I am a sucker for a coming-of-age tale, especially when the tale is told around a time that I can relate to. I originally read Barker’s Dead Leaves a while back when it was originally released, before I started up this blog. Sadly, the press folded and the book was briefly lost inside the publishing void. Thankfully, Dead Leaves is available once again and for fans of Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead, and the furore that surrounded video nasties in the 1980s, Dead Leaves is essential reading.
The story follows three boys; three lovers of horror, seekers of the ultimate video nasty: The Evil Dead. Scott, Paul and Mark are friends, Scott is at the crossroads of his youth and is the central character. He is uncertain of his future and doesn’t really know what it is he wants to do with his life. Pressure from home makes him even more uncertain and a strong rebellious streak builds inside of him. The boys seek solace in the horror genre, watching movies as an escape from their daily lives. The Evil Dead is the holy grail of movies for the boys, and they will do just about anything to get their hands on a copy. The only problem is social activist, Mary Whitehouse is on a mission to rid the streets and shops of the movies these youngsters hold so dear.
I love this book from Andrew David Barker. I too remember hitting the local video store where the chain-smoking proprietor would hold back 18 certificate videos for me and my friend, despite us being not even close to the required age. The dialogue is great, really authentic and the problems Scott faces are very similar to my own during my youth. There are numerous song and movie references scattered throughout and it really took me to the 80s. Fabulous stuff. Dead Leaves is a nostalgic read. It is one that is very dear to this reader and I am stoked that it has been resurrected. It is a novella, but feels much bigger thanks to Barker’s engaging characters, great story and atmosphere. I cannot recommend this book enough. I adore it.
5/5 video nasties from the Grim Reader.
Pick up a copy from here.
Check out this great essay on DEAD LEAVES by Andrew David Barker – here.