HellBound Books actually provided me with a copy of Tenebrion in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.
James H Longmore is originally from England, but has since moved to Texas with his family. His written works include: ‘Pede, The Erotic Odyssey of Colton Forshay, Flanagan, and Blood and Kisses. Those are just the novels, he also also written quite a few novellas and short stories.
However, he doesn’t just write novels, Longmore also writes screenplays — winning Best Director in the 2013 Splatterfest film competition and Remi awards at Houston’s Worldfest Film Festival in 2012, 2014, and 2015. His bio says he has three films under option, one being a spine-chilling horror, another a Tarantino-esque crime caper, and the last an animated family movie.
Longmore spends his free time writing and performing stand-up comedy.
Amateur film makers inadvertently invoke a demon when they break into an abandoned elementary school to perform and film an authentic Black Mass for their entry into a short movie competition! Dave Priestley reveals his plan to his the movie-making friends – to film an authentic Black Mass in Watsonville’s abandoned elementary school – the site of a horrific tragedy nine years before. Tenebrion – the demon of darkness – makes preparations of its own within the darkness of hell. It requires a specific set of circumstances and human victims to split open a fissure between the worlds and set free its brethren. Tenebrion has been manipulating humans for centuries in order to put things into place and the movie makers are the unfortunate, final pieces of its nefarious puzzle. Priestley, ever the stickler for authenticity and detail, prepares the Mass and accidentally sets the denizen of Hell free. And whilst Priestley and his skeptical friends attempt to recapture Tenebrion and return it to the dark shadows of the netherworld, it hunts them all down – one by one – for inclusion in its hellish gateway.– Tenebrion Amazon Landing Page
Previously published in 2017 by Black Bed Sheet Books and re-released by HellBound Books Publishing in February 2021, Tenebrion is an excellent example of a novel that gives that “found footage” vibe. The book starts off at film festival where it is announced that something terrible has happened to one of the teams, a group called Green Crayon (which, as I was researching the author, I found out is the name of Longmore’s film group as well.)
The reader is then brought back to the start of the festival when the ill-fated Green Crayon group begins filming in an abandoned elementary school that once saw a school shooting and then became home to a serial killer known as the Cuckold Killer. Despite the characters being fans of the horror genre, they — like so many horror movie characters before them — seem to do everything in their power to doom themselves.
So, at this site of suffering, the film crew performs an authentic satanic summoning spell (alliteration!) and — what a surprise! — summon a demon! Now, trapped in the school, the poor crew members struggle to cast it back to hell.
This book immediately gave me movie vibes right away, which makes sense since the author is also a screenwriter. I felt like I could picture everything and the entire book was well-paced, whisking me away to Watsonville, Texas. The book has all my favourite things: found footage – check, haunted/abandoned location – check, local legends – check, demons – check.
One of Longmore’s strengths lies in his descriptions. He has an amazing, visceral way of painting the scene and building a horrifying, chilling atmosphere to give his readers the creeps. His description of the demon, Tenebrion, especially was both terrifying and gross. I also appreciated the humourous moments that broke up the tension. One of my favourite lines from the book: “The Guinness at the Prince William Pub was tepid, flat as a fart, and had all of the body of murky pond water.”
Overall, the novel started off great for me. It was a gory thrill ride that would translate amazingly to film. I did find the general depictions of the female characters very off-putting unfortunately.
For example, despite whatever horrific situation they were in, the female characters are often described as “still managing to look cute” or they might fall over while being chased on their “ample ass” type thing. Here’s a line from Tenebrion: “Instead there was Priscilla, standing over him in a most unladylike pose — legs braced wide apart, hunched over and tugging on his free arm.” Yikes.
At the beginning, it was easy to just breeze over these types of things but nearer the end of the novel, they became more frequent and it made it hard for me to enjoy the book fully because these descriptions would jar me right out of the action, breaking the suspense. It was unfortunate because, as I mentioned, Longmore is great at creating a brutal, sadistic world of horror with the vividness of a movie but the female characters were just… oof.
Would I recommend this book?
Well, I think a lot of horror fans would find it fun as long as they didn’t find the female characters as jarring as I did. I know I would have enjoyed it so much more if not for that and I did take off quite a few points in my score due to it. Also, it is a gory book though so I also would not recommend it for anyone faint of heart — there’s sexual violence, mutilation, harm against children, among other things.
Thanks again, HellBound Books, for giving me a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review!