Hope wharf is an idyllic town surrounded by crystal blue waters and home to approximately two hundred residents, including best friends Ryan and Zac. There’s only one road in and one road out, and the locals like it that way, happy to cater to the tourists during the holidays and keen to get their idyllic town back in the off-season. It sounds perfect, but there’s a catch. The last time a local tried to leave town, they were found on the side of the road with mist coming out of every orifice. Tourists can come and go as they please, but it’s forbidden for locals to leave, and from an early age, children are told about what happens if they try, poor old Tommy Nicholls used as an example. Ryan and Zac are keen to uncover the town’s secrets and arrange a midnight stroll down Mulville Road to test the rumours out for themselves.
Mark Towse is an exciting new discovery. His stories are hidden gems that glint in the darkness. His characters draw you into their worlds, making you care, then plunge you into the abyss, leaving only a memory of warmth. His work will linger in your mind long after the telling. His are heart-felt stories with an icy edge. Highly recommended.’
Trevor Denyer – Editor and Publisher – Midnight Street Press
“I absolutely love it when I go into a book not knowing what to expect and it turns out to be so good that I’m actually a bit giddy with happiness. This was one of those books.
It’s a short little novella but it packs a punch. A seaside town that comes alive in the summer and is shrouded in mist the rest of the year. Tourists can come and go but the residents of town must stay within the boundaries or horrible things happen. Two teenage boys, Ryan and Zac, are determined to find out if the rumors are true or not and find themselves deep in some seriously messed up stuff. Sinister mists from the sea, shop owners with tar black eyes, and a candy store straight from hell mix together with secrets and ancient evils to make a compelling story that you won’t want to put down.
With strong King-esque coming-of-age vibes and small-town-claustrophobia, this was a great read.”
Nana – available in Kindle, paperback, hardcover, and audio.
Mark Towse’s novella Nana is both a blackly hilarious and devilish tale from a writer who relishes taking his readers on a rollercoaster ride over the 100 or so pages here. In my review of Towse’s debut collection Face the Music, I said he liked to stick the knife in and give it a good twist. Here he does that again whilst also tickling the reader and making them laugh frequently amongst the shocks.
The author welcomes us to Newhaven Crescent, where the elderly residents harbour a dark secret that may help them extend their stay on the plain of the living. Olly is dumped on his Grandmother Ivy by his parents, whose marriage is on the rocks so they can go out to dinner to discuss their seemingly inevitable separation. Ivy is a de facto leader among the Newhaven residents – a disparate group of eccentric characters who are gearing up for their variety show (which may be more than it seems) the very night Olly comes to stay. Meanwhile Alex a paper delivery boy goes missing in the vicinity on the same day.
Towse has structured the novella into chapters named after the various characters and the first half of the book introduces everyone clearly and concisely so when the shit hits the fan later on, there is little confusion amongst the chaos of who is where and doing what. After the introductions, we spend the majority of the time with Olly and Ivy, and come to learn of Ivy’s distaste for his mother (like her use of canned fruit in her pies). As the story progresses, the carefully seeded mysteries are gradually revealed. But as outlandish as things get (& they do get pretty out there) Towse keeps the tone consistent – an impressive feat given how hard it is to create a good horror comedy – be it in book or film.
Towse amps up the grotesqueries of ageing bodies but contrasts it with the vibrantly upbeat personalities of his characters who have found a way to cheat death & instead take joy in their later years, which concurrently makes their actions all the more chilling and crucially never feels like shock for shock’s sake. This old Nana is a wickedly fun and funny read.