"Gone to the Dogs" Book Review

Written by Tony Jones

Published by D&T Publishing

gone to the dogs mark towse poster large

Written by Mark Towse
2023, 105 pages, Fiction
Released on 28th July 2023

Review:

Since 2020, Mark Towse has authored a host of novellas and features in an impressive range of short story anthologies. I reviewed 3:33 for Horror DNA earlier in the year, which I found to be a short, punchy, and very funny read which does not take itself too seriously, with a central character who goes through the worst possible mid-life crisis. When a new novella came my way, I was happy to take a fresh look at what Mark had been up to since.

Even if Gone to the Dogs does not have the same comedic elements as 3:33, it is still an easy and diverting story, which at 105-pages is a novella which could be read in a couple of sittings. It is not particularly deep or complex, but I was sufficiently invested to get behind the characters and the terrifying predicament they find themselves in. Structurally, the story is slightly reminiscent of Stephen King’s The Mist, with a group of folks trapped inside a building with dangerous supernatural nastiness lurking and stalking them from outside.

It was also nice to read a story which is predominately built around much older characters, which I have seen called ‘geriatric horror’ elsewhere. The setting is a rundown small town in the north of England, which is beautifully described by an English author who now lives in Australia. Perhaps Towse is homesick for the rain, wind and grind associated with this part of the UK! To make things even worse, the local pub, the Ann Boylen, is under threat of closure and the locals are struggling to get by. Could things get any worse? Oh yes, indeed!

Gone to the Dogs starts fast and keeps that pace going until its terrific and moving ending. In the opening pages the sky starts raining blood and a sinkhole appears in the middle of the main road, with strange monsters slowly crawling out of the cracks. As this happens we are introduced to a range of characters who are then thrown together by these bizarre events as they end up hiding out in the pub. Whilst the neighbourhood dogs are anxious and continue to bark nonstop, the group realise the monsters outside seem to have a psychic connection to pivotal moments of guilt from their individual pasts, which can manifest into something horrible and very personal.

Teenager David is the odd one out of the group, as he is about fifty years younger than the rest of the survivors, which are elderly enough to include a Second World War veteran. Along the way there is some very dark humour, funny quips, a killer cat, an assortment of monsters, with young David learning a lot about himself as the group fight for survival, whilst having a drink, a packet of crisps, and a game of pool.

Gone to the Dogs is an easy and fun read if you are looking for a pacy novella to distract you for the evening. Although the characters are not drawn in a lot of detail, they are rounded enough to cheer for, and the British sense of humour comes through loud and clear. Nobody messes with our local pubs!

Grades:

Overall: 3.5 Star Rating Cover
Buy from Amazon US.
Cover
Buy from Amazon UK.

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Tony Jones
Staff Reviewer
Such is Tony’s love of books, he has spent well over twenty years working as a school librarian where he is paid to talk to kids about horror. He is a Scotsman in exile who has lived in London for over two decades and credits discovering SE Hinton and Robert Cormier as a 13-year-old for his huge appetite for books. Tony previously spent five years writing The Greatest Scrum That Ever Was, a history book very few people bought. In the past he has written for Horror Novel Reviews and is a regular contributor to The Ginger Nuts of Horror website, often specialising in YA horror.
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