Written by: Matt Molgaard
Reading Russell Mardell’s Bleeker Hill, I ran into something I’d not previously encountered. It was a bit strange, and I’m not certain how much it speaks of the novel itself, and how much it speaks to my own personal mindset. However, each time I picked this one up after having put it down a day or so prior, I’d forgotten massive chunks of the story. Literally every time I opened it, it was like opening a door to a room I’d never explored. Strange, strange stuff, which did admittedly make for a challenging read.
The story sees a group of The Party, what seems to be some form of pseudo-government, pursuing a safe house after their headquarters are destroyed by the lunatics of a warring country. However the safe house is anything but safe, and the things that have occurred here aren’t for the faint of heart. More importantly however, is the supernatural presence lurking about the place, and the homicidal activities unraveling in all corridors.
This was a strange read. Mardell is obviously a very, very talented guy. He’s good with words and he hits these stretches in which he loads up the descriptive nature in wonderfully successful fashion. That said, I felt as though I never fully understood the story. It’s not as though it’s unbelievably intricate, it’s just that somewhere, for some odd reasons, the lines of Bleeker Hill got tangled up in this noggin.
How much of that enigmatic affect falls on Mardell’s shoulders?
How much of the blame must I take, working myself to the point of a near nonexistent attention span?
I can’t answer these questions definitively. But I will say this, I think Mardell’s got to absorb some of the culpability. At times, there’s just a disjointed feel to the story – the sense that I entered a story already half-told, the first a complete mystery, and I don’t think that was exclusively in my own mind.
But here’s the thing about this novel. I feel it’s unfair to issue a low rating, and I can’t in all rectitude gift the novel a high rating. There are amazing sequences in this well-written tale, but there’s something… distant about this one as well. As entertaining as the concept is (Bleeker Hill feels like a mashup of V for Vendetta and Event Horizon), and as refined as Mardell’s writing is, I wasn’t able to connect with the story as I’d hoped.
Order this one right here. While it may not have won me over in its entirety, it may be just the novel you’ve been looking for.