One of my true joys is reading and sometimes reviewing indie books. I have found there are some really great ones out there—great to the point that they deserve to be picked up by a regular publisher, if in fact they haven’t already. Here are two written by an author I met on the Goodreads site named Bryan Pentelow. Both are adventure stories involving a crazy combination of characters both human and animal. There are protagonists, antagonists, and lots of laughs. I heartily recommend both these books, numbers one and two in the Sprocket saga.
Sprocket and the Great Northern Forest
I just finished Sprocket and the Great Northern Forest, the second book I have read by Bryan Pentelow. One dark November night, Blaggard the crow, seated atop a telephone pole, observes a mysterious figure, clad in a black rain cape with a hood, slither along an iron fence. The figure suddenly thrusts a shoebox through a gap in the fence and then vanishes. The next day, a Mr. Brassroyd, on whose property the shoebox now rests, goes about his normal day at Brassroyd Environmental, essentially a scrap yard adjoining his house. Working hand and hand with him is his loyal English Bull Terrier, Mrs. Mumbly. That day, Mrs. Mumbly hears a ticking and a clicking, and discovers the shoebox. Managing to get the box open, she discovers a large egg, and transports it to her own basket in the kitchen. When Mr. Brassroyd heads out for lunch and an ale, Mrs. Mumbly witnesses to her astonishment, the cracking of the egg, and the emergence of a “being”. I won’t reveal what the being is but suffice it to say the being drives the story to its very satisfying conclusion. There is a villain too, the unfeeling malevolent, and producer of toxic waste Eurochem International, whose factory is right next door to Brassroyd’s property.
This is really a marvellous fantasy, replete with loveable characters and lush description. The description covers everything from the characters to the kitchen to the scrap yard to the surrounding area to the local bar. Everything, including the syntax and the expressions, is very British. I felt at times that I was back in the day of Dickens and Thomas Hardy. Mr. Brassroyd’s breakfast of “crispy bacon, biscuits, black pudding, and fried bread” had my mouth watering! I really appreciated the animals who occupy center stage in this tale, and who are both heroic and hilarious. This is a story for both children and adults, as it has a basic sweetness to it and it is so well written. I very strongly recommend it and fortunately for us, there are sequels.
Sprocket and the Great Museum Scam
I just completed the second story in the Sprocket saga, Sprocket and the Great Museum Scam, written by Bryan Pentelow. I enjoyed this story as much or more than the original. For those who remember the first story, it begins by Blaggard the Crow witnessing a mysterious cloaked stranger shoving an egg through a fence at Number Seven Pudding Founders Lane, the location of Brassroyd Environmental, run by the owner Brassroyd.
In one sense, the second story serves as a bit of a prequel as it gives background on this stranger, who is named Septimus P. Thing. Thing is at heart a bad sort who deals in rare eggs and stuffed specimens of rare animals. In his various dealings, it is the acquisition of this egg, which in his possession begins to tick, that his problems begin. He knows he will get into trouble with his landlady should the egg hatch which precipitates his getting rid of the egg and his link to the gang at Founders Lane.
With his accomplices Likely Smalls, thief, and Fauntleroy Pratt his taxidermist, nicknamed ‘Stinker’ due to his malodorous state, they embark on their life of scamming and crime. However, they are up against a formidable combination of humans, dogs, birds, and dragons,in short, the good guys. Readers of the first book will remember Sprocket the dragon, Brassroyd, Blaggard, and Mrs. Mumbly, the English Bull Terrier. New humans, birds, dogs, and dragons are introduced in this saga.
What I found so funny in this saga is the utter ineptness of the bad guys, and how they are foiled time and again. I am sure readers will share in this reaction. I look forward to more stories in the Sprocket saga!