David Towsey (davidtowsey.blogspot.com)
Ad Astra / Head of Zeus (headofzeus.com)
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Christophor Morden is a King’s Special Inspector, who specialises in cases where witchcraft is suspected. Early one evening, Christophor is summoned to the city’s St Leonars prison, where he finds a young man who has gouged his own eyeballs out. On closer examination, it seems that there are teeth growing in the sockets that once held them. Unable to dodge the duty, Christophor is ordered to the the young man’s hometown, the distant Drekenford, to see if he can get to the bottom of this unholy affliction. There’s only one problem: Christophor’s day-brother Alexsander, a musician and professional layabout, will be unhappy about the move, but he may prove more useful than Christophor might have imagined. This is no bad thing: Christopher and Alexsander share a single body, one living by night, the other by day, so it’s going to taken some cooperation to solve this conundrum.
David Towsey’s latest novel takes as to the kingdom of Reikova, whose inhabitants have a very distinctive trait: each body holds two distinct souls; one who inhabits the daylight hours, the other coming to the fore in darkness.
I have seen the sun, despite what my day-brother might say.
This, before we even delve into the details of the story, is a stroke of genius and adds a whole new dimension to the fantasy / crime mashup genre for which Towsey is aiming. Within a handful of pages we understand the premise as well as most of the rules. There’s no overthinking it here: the person chews the leaves of the etienne plant, goes to bed, and wakes up as somebody else. When do the bodies rest? We don’t care. Can these “brothers” and “sisters” communicate with each other? Yes, but it takes a bit of effort. Simple! To spice things up a bit, day and night people aren’t necessarily married to the same people and, for the most part, follow different career paths. The most difficult thing to get our heads around, as the reader, is the concept of time, and the fact that much of the action takes place in the wee hours of the morning.
The story is, thankfully, worthy of this excellent plot device. Christophor is our guide for the first half of the proceedings, while Alexsander takes over for the second half, for reasons that become apparent as we near the climax. Reikova is a pre-industrial world not unlike our own and Drekenford is a small town where nothing goes unnoticed and everyone knows everyone else’s business. When locals begin dying following the Mordens’ arrival, it soon becomes apparent that something evil resides in Drekenford, and Christophor is determined to get to the bottom of the puzzle before the King’s new war arrives in the town.
Deftly mixing fantasy and crime, David Towsey has presented us with a fresh new world with an unusual twist. The crime element is well thought out, and keeps the reader guessing throughout. The central character(s) really resonate, and so we find ourselves in their corner, even when they seem to be at odds with each other. There’s a lot here to like and I, for one, am hoping for more stories set in this world, and maybe even a glimpse or two at Christophor’s younger days, when he was, presumably, at the height of his craft. Fantasy needs to have something special to grab me, to set itself apart from the multitude. Equinox has it in spades, and I would highly recommend it to everyone.