Monday 22 August 2016

REVIEW: Stuart Park - Marked

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Sinister Horror Company
Publication Date: 6th August 2016
Pages: 174


A copy of Marked was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author, Stuart Park, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by The Sinister Horror Company.

Well, that’s nearly true but with a slight variation. I actually picked up a copy of Marked from the Sinister Horror Company stand at this year’s Horror Con. It was from someone new and you can never have enough books so I grabbed it. A short time later I was contacted by Justin Park to see if I could review it for Confessions. Of course I agreed. I already had a copy so went for it.

Stuart Park is Justin Park’s brother. On one hand you would think it fortuitous that his brother is one third of the SHC, but on the other hand, if you know Justin and the rest of the guys, this would grant Stuart no special favours. The book would still have to be quality for them to put it into print.

So how does it fair? Let’s find out.

Mark and Kim are at the seaside with their four-year-old twins, Ben and Kaylyn. In a freak accident or tragedy or as it turns out, unexplained mystery, Kaylyn goes missing.

Twenty years later and the memories are still very strong. Especially for Kim and she constantly struggles with her broken heart.

It is a time of wonder. Venus and her sister planet are coming to the end of a three-thousand-year cycle and the stargazers are going crazy for the phenomenon.

They don’t appear to be the only ones going crazy!

So straight in with the characters. Kim and Mark are still married twenty years later but it seems only barely. Kim is, on one hand, a depressive wreck, and on the other, a strong and brutal woman, with a mysterious secret. Mark is a man who seems to always be on the edge, but on the other hand, chilled as a chilled man from chilled land. Their daughter Katie is a nightmare.

There are a few other characters that float in and out of the story but don’t really have much of a part to play. Other than Kiko that is. A mysterious Japanese girl who seems to be in possession of mysterious ancient powers or knowledge.

The plot? I can’t tell you. Not because I don’t want to but because I am not entirely sure what the plot was supposed to be. It might come to me but I am somewhat confused even a few hours after finishing the book.

My first point of confusion is which genre to truly categorise this book as. It has little flecks of horror. It has little flecks of a thriller. It has little flecks of sci-fi. It has little flecks of a few other styles as well. Put them all together and what do you get? Well, I’m not exactly sure.

I couldn’t help but think that if this story was on the big screen, Mark would be played by Bruce Willis. It had the sort of psychedelic atmosphere to it that would befit one of his movies. You know the ones I mean. The ones where only Bruce could do them justice. Twelve Monkeys or The Fifth Element style of film.

It is a confusing story. There are a few elements to it that just didn’t gel together for me. Well, maybe that is a bit unfair. They did gel. I just couldn’t figure out the significance. Kim for example has a secret life away from her family. Why? What was her purpose in this role? I’m not sure. Something happens to Mark that gives him an illness. What was it? What was the purpose of it? What did it all have to do with their daughter Kaylyn from the beginning of the story?

See what I mean? A lot of unanswered questions for me. Maybe on reflection they will become clear and I will figure it out. I hope so because you know what? Even with all those unanswered questions, I really enjoyed this story.

Stuart Park clearly tells us in his author bit at the end that he is not an author. You know what I say to that? You are a liar sir! There is an author inside of you. What you have written here is a story that totally captivates the reader. It doesn’t matter if it confuses them or not. It is still bloody good. The writing is fluid and intelligent. It makes it very easy for the reader to follow the story. Even when you feel confused you want to keep going to find out exactly what is going to happen next. Normally when I read something that confuses me, I lose interest. Not with Marked. I was intrigued from start to finish and to be honest, I still am. Maybe there is more to come in this story that will explain all. I don’t know, but I hope so.

Stuart Park, when your pants are no longer on fire, you liar, keep on writing. You have an interesting style that I definitely think would appeal to those into their dark fiction with a little bit of sci-fi thrown in.

I would definitely buy more.

To summarise: I’m not even going to try and put this into a genre but if you like even a snippet of what I mentioned above then go buy this. It won’t take you long to read it but I bet you will be thinking about it for a long time after you finish it.

General rating:

★★★★ He lies....he can write!

Whatever else it is rating:

★★★★ mixed up but still a high rating.

If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer, then please consider using the links below to buy Marked or any other books from Stuart. This not only supports me but also lets me know how many people actually like to buy books after reading my reviews.


Book Synopsis:

Venus and her sister planet concludes their 3,000 year cycle. Stargazers amass to witness this once-in-a-lifetime event, but not Mark, his life is about to change.

Mark's chance encounter with the cold but intangibly-carnal Kiko sets him plummeting into free-fall. Kim, his emphatic but emotionally-charged wife moonlights with a shadowy organisation whose intentions are far from transparent. She needs to blame someone for the disappearance of their daughter twenty years ago. No solace is offered by her egocentric therapist who's engrossed in his own agenda.

Plagued by visions, Mark struggles to maintain his grip on reality and descends into a vividly-violent web of darkness. As Mark's world spirals beyond his control, it's quite possible this cycle will not end smoothly.

Stuart is not an author.

Then something happened.
Following a knee operation he found himself incapacitated for a spell. Overnight he was immobile and learnt a keen lesson in loss. This new sense of frustration didn't sit well with him. Reviewing his then limited options he decided to vent by writing. Writing had always been on his bucket list and this seemed to be the perfect opportunity.

Stuart tells himself he's not an author, this belief is what makes him not an author.

He has helped out the Sinister Horror Company by proofreading titles, including: Terror Byte, Punch, Class Three, Upon Waking, Class Four and Hexagram for JR Park and Duncan P Bradshaw.

He also has a keen interest in photography and produced an abstract photography book called 'Escapee'.

Remember Stuart is not an author, at least that's what he believes, so it must be true.

And for more about Stuart, visit his site or find him on social media:

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