It isn’t very often that a book (particularly a novella) leaves me gazumped with what to say about it, but Stuart Park has done that here with ‘Marked’ – his debut offering through the Sinister Horror Company.
‘Marked’ is certainly a dark read. It follows a couple who lose their daughter whilst at the beach one day. Their journey sees them deal with the loss in very different ways. Mark (the father) seems to keep himself occupied with his work and his daughter Kate, but a chance meeting with a sadistic girl called Kiko soon changes things. Meanwhile, his wife (Kim) is embroiled in an affair, whilst becoming part of a strange organisation. ‘Marked’ blurs the lines between fiction and reality, particularly with Mark. Violent visions plague him and after a job he discovers his daughter Kate is missing! The next part of the book was a little strange. Mark seems a little too relaxed about his missing daughter, you’d think he would be in a state of panic having already lost one already, but he seems a little unconcerned overall.
The book takes a few more turns for the weird before a bloody ending ensues. ‘Marked’ sees a real mash-up of styles, and it’s a dreamy sort of read. I’d like to compare this book to the most recent Behemoth album ‘The Satanist’ – at first listen I couldn’t see much to it. It sounded a little messy, with no real stand-out songs, just a constant barrage of noise, however, after a second listen the pieces started to fall into place and it has gone on to be one of my favorite albums of the past few years. So, I don’t often read through books twice, but I did with this one. The second time I read it start to finish without a break and although my head felt like it had been put inside a blender, I certainly enjoyed it a lot more and I got a lot more out of it.
Stuart Park is definitely one to watch. I get the feeling he is trying a few things out with this one and for the most part it works. Each page is like reading a completely different story and I applaud him for this. This could’ve caused problems, it doesn’t and the narrative actually works really well and makes you pay close attention to the story. If you enjoy a challenging read then this is the novella for you. It’s a little like being inside a washing machine and it took me out of my reading comfort zone, but, after all, isn’t that what we want dark fiction to do?
Pick up a copy of ‘Marked’ from here.