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…
I have previously read ‘Composite Creatures’ by Caroline Hardaker and I described it as ‘a book that slowly draws you in and keeps you hooked, wanting to find out more’. Mothtown, her latest release, is very much in this signature style.
The book tells the story of David, who is determined to discover the truth when his Grandad disappears on a mission to find a secret door. Why do his family insist his Grandad is dead? Why are there other disappearances and what do the blue packages mean? The plot is also split up into ‘After’ chapters which tell of his mission to Mothtown and ‘Before’ which are flashbacks to his past and childhood.
It’s hard to really describe Mothtown – it’s certainly a book with a lot of secrets and it tries very hard not to give them up, even to the reader. Although I love a slow-burn mystery that keeps you hooked, I do think that this book leaves its readers too much in the dark for too long. There is a good payoff at the end, but I think the reveal leaves you with more questions than it answers (for example, the After chapters make very little sense even after knowing what was going on.) I did really enjoy the creepy illustrations though and I think these really added to the story.
The book is very much a character piece and David is quite hard to empathise and get to know. There’s a lot of jumbled thinking and unreliable narrator techniques employed. The book also drags in pace quite a lot in the middle - I wish that David had perhaps made more progress in his quest to Mothtown or in his pursuit of information in the Before chapters, which would have kept my interest a little more. Having both him and the reader not knowing what was going on for nearly the whole book became a little frustrating.
Overall Mothtown certainly is a creepy read and it’s a great character piece, I just think it would have made a bigger impact if it was a short story rather than a full novel. Thank you to NetGalley and Angry Robot for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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