As a child, David could tell something was wrong.
The kids in school spread rumours of missing people, nests of bones and bodies appearing in the mountains. His sister refused to share what she knew, and his parents turned off the TV whenever he entered the room. Protecting him, they said.
Worse, the only person who shared anything at all with him, his beloved grandpa, disappeared without a goodbye. Mum and Dad said he was dead. But what about the exciting discovery Grandpa had been working on for his whole life?
Now 26, David lives alone and takes each day as it comes. When a strange package arrives on his doorstep, one with instructions not to leave the Earth, a new world is unfurled before David, one he’s been trying to suppress for years…
Mothtown is a literary fiction novel that refuses to be pigeonholed into a single genre, a book that needs to be experienced in its entirety to get the full grasp of its depth, written by Caroline Hardaker and published by Angry Robot Books. Using in really clever ways two resources as a dual timeline and an unreliable narrator, Hardaker casts a charm over the reader, creating an oniric experience.
Something is going wrong in our world, disappearance numbers are steadily increasing, with bodies being found in remote places; but David Porter's parent have been always protecting him from this reality, something that it's basically isolating him from the rest of the world, including his family and sister, creating his own reality cocoon. The only person that understands David is his grandfather, Francis Porter; but when his parents tell David Francis is dead, the only anchor that kept David sane disappears.
He's unable to accept that the only mirror he had is no more, refusing to accept the news and starting a journey through grief and depression, feeling even more alone when his sister moves to another city; David is drowning in a world he's not prepared for, a place whose expectations he cannot fulfill, only aggravating his mental conditions due to the lack of support from the rest of people that were close to him.
Hardaker mirrors David's own story with the big picture of what is happening alongside Britain, people disappearing with David slowly becoming an entity on himself; and in the same way, David is progressively left alone by those around him due to his mental condition, many people in the country are sent to "blue houses" when their families decide their mental health is not good enough to stay in society.
With the use of multiple layers, Hardaker weaves a compelling story centered around grief and pain, paired with a lyrical prose that reinforces the emotional weight of the narration; alternating Before and After helps us to get a full picture of what was happening in David's head.
Without spoiling this book, I can say that Mothtown is an unique travel through grief and depression using a carefully crafted prose; Hardaker has created an excellent novel that impacts you on the heart. Read it, and be prepared to be emotionally destroyed.
Author. Poet. Novelist. Occasional librettist. Sporadic puppeteer.
Caroline Hardaker lives in the north east of England and writes quite a lot of things, mainly dark and brooding tales exploring everything speculative, from folklore to future worlds.
Caroline’s debut novel, Composite Creatures, was published by Angry Robot in April 2021.
Her second novel – Mothtown – has been published in November 2023.