Hewhay Hall is a charming novella, one for a single sitting. It's the story of Jude, whose desperation to feel whole again after losing a leg while trying to rescue a family from an imminent bomb blast, leads him to seek out the elusive and mythical Hewhay Hall. I shan't say too much about Hewhay Hall and who it is for, because it will spoil some of the revelations in the story... but it has fallen into bad hands and bad ways. Can our hero rescue himself from his dire circumstances or the other captives he finds there... before his family blunder into the same situation in their attempts to get him back?
There is plenty of horror here, and false leads, so you wonder frequently which are the voices or characters you should be trusting...the lovely Verity, the bog-wights, Gush, or the mad Wiccan next door? But there is also love... even when it doesn't know how to express itself any more... and heroism.
Roebuck has taken an unusual premise and so made her horror relevant to the atrocities which have affected our terrorist-torn cities. Although the story flows past these questions, they are still there... how do we cope after bombings and war? How do we welcome those affected back into our homes and communities; and what is left for them of the lives they used to lead? Do we speak the same language any more?
This story is also nicely planted in the real world, with characterisation which paints vivid pictures of daily life - a verisimilitude which only makes the horror bite deeper.