Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #Horror Novella THE BLEDBROOKE WORKS by John F. Leonard

Today’s book review comes from challenge reader VT Dorchester, he blogs here vtdorch.wordpress.com

VT has been reading The Bledbrooke Works by John F. Leonard

45017475. sy475

The Bledbrooke Works: A Cosmic Horror Story by John F Leonard

This short novella follows Donald Hobdike, Manager of Works in a small town with secrets, and Michael Bassey, the young offender assigned to him as part of community service, as they venture into the old sewers below town. There is a blockage somewhere, causing somewhat disgusting problems in town, and they need to resolve whatever the problem below ground may be. The viewpoint alternates between the human characters, and a strange Other-Thing, possibly of extra-terrestrial origin, which is a bit menacing.

I picked this book to review during Rosie’s Review-A-Book-Challenge because I was intrigued by the promised setting. I think it’s hard to go very wrong setting a horror story inside confined, mysterious-to-most, English and Victorian sewage works.

And I did enjoy the atmosphere and suspense of this book. It’s spooky without being all-out terrifying, maintaining a nice balance between enjoyable suspense and foreboding, and providing some character development, and holds back from veering into too much gross-out horror or intensity.  I don’t like my horror stories too intense.

However, I did unfortunately ultimately find myself somewhat disappointed in this story. The short-sentenced, snapped off style of writing took me a little aback, and I never quite got used to it, although it does help keep the pace moving. Most readers should have little trouble reading this novella in an hour and a half or so. There is some use of obscenities, and a little bit of violence, although it is not particularly graphic, and there are far far fewer poop jokes then there could have been. (I’m not complaining about that at all.) There is also some allusion to domestic and sexual abuse.

The two human characters are each fun, with cranktankerous Hobdike getting a few particularly amusing comments to share with us. There is a twist ending, which did take me by surprise. The ending is also rather dark. I prefer stories that end with more of a sense of hope, even in horror stories. This is of course a question of personal taste, but the bleakness at the end of the story was a disappointment to me.

Regular horror readers will likely enjoy the somewhat unusual setting and moodiness of the story, and I recommend it to horror fans looking for a quick read.

I want to thank both Rosie and the author for arranging a free copy for me to review. I give this novella 3 stars out of 5.

Book description

Ever notice how some places don’t feel right? No rhyme or reason, they’re just unsettling, without you being able to pinpoint the cause. The vaguely suspicious demeanour of the locals. The pewtered quality of light. The old and indefinably alien smell that blows on the breeze… difficult to say for sure, but there’s definitely something.

Bledbrooke is one of those places. It’s always been different to other towns. Quaint and quiet, a little backwater with a somehow dark charm all of its own. Once you get used to it, you wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

It’s not all sweetness and light though. There are problems. A new one has just appeared. The drains on Cinderlake Drive are bubbling unsavoury water onto the street. Even worse, the toilets are blocked and spitting nastiness at some affluent backsides. The town council reckon it’s a fatberg – one of those awful accumulations of wet wipes, grease and other unmentionables.

There’s only one man to call… Donald Hobdike, world-weary and well past his prime, this sort of issue inevitably ends up on his chipped desk. When it comes to the sewers in Bledbrooke, he’s seen it all and more besides. Knows them better than he knows the back of his wrinkled hand.

Or so he thinks.

Maybe the labyrinthine warren beneath Bledbrooke still has some surprises in store for him…

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

45017475. sy475

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Horror #ShortStory The Bledbrooke Works by @john_f_leonard

Today’s team review is from Georgia, she blogs here https://www.georgiarosebooks.com

#RBRT Review Team

Georgia has been reading The Bledbrooke Works by John F. Leonard

45017475

Donald Hobdike’s title is Manager of Works in the small, somewhat creepy, town of Bledbrooke, and has been for forty years. Over that time his role has become considerably less glamorous than it sounds and now extends to little more than managing the sewage system.

He is also, on occasion, sent community service young offenders to accompany him on his day’s work. Which is why when a blockage is reported in a posh part of town Hobdike has the surly Mikey in tow as they disappear into the depths of the sewers.

But they are not alone.

This story is written from the differing points of view of Hobdike and Mikey and these were my favourite parts. The characterisation of each is excellent, their thoughts about the other right on the nail. But there is a third character. An unknown quantity. Gone to earth.

Like I said, they are not alone, and as if the revolting setting of the claustrophobic sewage system was not enough suspense builds because you know, you just know, something is waiting for them.

I loved the twist, the horror of the finale, and having appreciated Leonard’s writing for a while now I thoroughly enjoyed this short story and highly recommend it to all those seeking something different and interesting to read.

Book description

THE BLEDBROOKE WORKS is a tale of everyday unpleasantness and cosmic horror. A short novella of subterranean terror seen through the eyes of an ageing engineer and a young hoodlum. One a pillar of the local community, the other an outsider who wouldn’t know communal spirit if it ran up and bit him on the bottom.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

45017475

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Horror #ShortStory The Bledbrooke Works by @john_f_leonard

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here https://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading The Bledbrooke Works by John F Leonard

45017475

4.5 stars

I liked this story a lot—I’ve read an earlier novel and a shorter story by John F Leonard, and his writing has come on in leaps and bounds; this is a different class.

‘Back before the Domesday Book, the little spot known has Bledbrooke had started out smaller than small…During the Middle Ages, it shuddered into a village while no one was looking’

Bledbrooke is a strange town, in which electricity often fails and phone reception is almost non-existent.  Donald Hobdike is the Manager of Works; on the day in which the story takes place he must go down to the old, abandoned sewage works to fix a problem.  A young ex-con, Mikey, is assigned to help him.  And down they go…

The characterisation of the two men was a joy to read, with astute observations about each others’ generation, and their own lives; there are some highly descriptive turns of phrase that I so appreciated.  The chapters alternate been the points of view of Hobdike and Mikey—and another being; the one that lurks beneath.  It was this that took it to another level for me, as the presence beneath Bledbrooke contemplates its existence over millennia, and the nature of mankind.

‘The periods of slumber grew progressively shorter as it acclimatised and located fresh supplies of food.  Millennia or intertia became centuries of torpor and eventually decades of inactivitiy.  With each waking, evolution had shimmied and leapt down new paths, throwing up bewilderingly brittle lifeforms that lasted a celestial instant and were gone.’

It’s darker than dark, sinister and highly readable. Worth 99p of anyone’s money, or it’s available on Kindle Unlimited, too.

Book description

THE BLEDBROOKE WORKS is a tale of everyday unpleasantness and cosmic horror. A short novella of subterranean terror seen through the eyes of an ageing engineer and a young hoodlum. One a pillar of the local community, the other an outsider who wouldn’t know communal spirit if it ran up and bit him on the bottom.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

45017475