- File Size: 916 KB
- Print Length: 174 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Sinister Horror Company (August 6, 2016)
- Publication Date: August 6, 2016
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01HAC9JE8
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,500,343 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Marked Kindle Edition
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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.
★★★★ He lies....he can write!
Whatever else it is rating:
★★★★ mixed up but still a high rating.
This is one of those books that I would be hard pressed to define as a particular style of writing. There are elements of horror, crime, fantasy, thriller and erotica genres in here but “Marked” is a novella that can not easily be categorized or described. I’ll try my hardest to give you an inkling of what it may be about but I fear that this review will sound like the ravings of a deranged lunatic. So, you ready? Then let’s go…
I think the starting point for me would be to say that Marked is a very sharp and smart novella that has got the old grey matter working overtime. Like his debut short story, Marked doesn’t reveal itself at the first sitting. This is one of those books that has little morsels and bread crumbs of information that hint at what might actually be going on but never explicitly defines it. I can appreciate that that sounds vague but after four reads I’m no closer to being able to tell you precisely what the story is about. Much like the reality portrayed here, clarity of thinking has become somewhat loose and abstract as I attempt to decipher the thoughts and ideas swirling around my brain like confetti.
Ostensibly the plot is about a man called Mark Goode who has a very strange day during a period of planetary alignment between Venus and Earth. The initial prologue follows the disappearance of his daughter and then shoots forward to the present day with him, his wife Kim and his new daughter Kate being haunted and hunted by their respective pasts. Echoing opening events, Kate goes missing and Mark embarks on a journey encountering progressively weirder situations and people including the mysterious Kiko that culminates in him going on a rampage. As the title suggests, Mark is a man for whom life has become irrevocably tainted and altered, whether that be by the celestial bodies in motion or by his own hand is another matter entirely.
The book struck me as some form of nightmarish puzzle waiting to be solved. Kind of like the paper based equivalent of The Lament Configuration that had me intensely scrutinizing the words and trying to find the hidden seams that would be the key to unlocking the book’s secrets. At other points, I was simultaneously thinking about the legend of Ouroboros whilst feeling I was viewing a waking nightmare directed by David Lynch and designed by M.C. Escher. Reality and time throughout the course of the novella seem to weave in and out and this sense starts to creep up on you that all is most definitely not right with Mark’s grasp of reality. I really can’t get over that feeling that this is like a lucid nightmare in its style or, as one character puts it “abstracted reality.”
It is disorientating and disturbing whilst also being hypnotic and seductive. The book reads like a loose collection of disparate elements and images that may be clues or red herrings, yet it feels strangely tight and sharp in its delivery. That reads like a weird contrast of descriptions but a key element to understanding some of this novella would be around concepts of balance and karma. But to be honest I can’t really say. Each time I’ve read the damned thing I’ve felt like I’m playing with one of those Magic 8 balls that comes up with the same vague answer over and over again, “ask again later.” There’s a certain point where I thought that maybe Park is just screwing with my head and the little details that pointed towards some sort of explanation were just red herrings and the answer is staring me straight in the face. Maybe it is just as simple as the opening quote, “s*** happens, then you die” and yet, each time that I get to the end I am faced with the same pop quiz questions to mull over ( yes, you did read that right, a pop quiz!). Then the grey matter starts sparking off and I am left with a multitude of questions going back and forth in my mind like a piñata; Is Mark real? Is he dead? Is he in limbo? Is he just having a crazy day? I’m sat here I’m still having vague notions about the book being something to do with karmic debt, personal demons and the fine line between good and evil. Yet I can’t be totally sure.
I don’t really know what else I can say about Marked to be honest. After my first read I was a bit bewildered and perplexed about what I’d just read. It does feel like your experiencing someone else’s nightmare made manifest and, as a result, the book is open to many different interpretations. Much like its’ titular character’s actions, I found myself repeatedly reading the book in an attempt to peel back the skin to reveal the secrets lurking beneath. I appreciate that you are probably reading this review and thinking my thoughts are as clear as mud but Marked for me was really quite a startling and disorientating book. What I would suggest is that you do keep your eyes open for more of Stuart Park’s writing, it’s really rather good.
I received this book to give an honest review.
So I am trying to really think on how to write this review without giving away so much.
So this book started off pretty powerful. We are thrown into the life of Mark and his family. When his daughter goes missing this starts his wife on a down whirl spiral. We fast forward quite a few years and we see the affects of not having their daughter with them. It seems to kind of take a toll on Mark's wife Kim. As the story progresses it seems that Kim has a secret life which had me baffled though we don't spend much time on her. Then we get to Mark and it seems something has overtaken Mark and he won't be the same person.
There will be death and weirdness in this book.
I am only giving 2 stars because I started to get confused as to what the heck was going on. I don't like being confused when reading a book. Like I said in the beginning the book started off powerful and it had me until we got to Mark's job and his daughter ran off. After that I really tried to follow the story but it just seemed all over the place and nothing was really making sense too me. What was the point of some of the things going on with the book. Why did his daughter run off?
Why did his wife have this mysterious job? Who was she talking to on the phone? What did this Kiko have to do with anything? Among other questions.
As far as plot wise umm I am not sure what it technically was fully. I assume something came from outer space and may have overtook Mark's body? Though I could be wrong.
I am not sure what else I can write as I feel like I will be giving away the story that lies within this book. I say pick it up and give it a read and see if you enjoy it, you may.
Top international reviews
Anyway, Stuart, the author wrote to me and was like- “I can’t tell you much about the story so I don’t give anything away.”
So I thought- yes, this is some good intrigue and makes the book sticky… you know, sticky.. as in you’ll want to see what it’s about or it’ll annoy you until the end of days and a year!
Stuart offered to send me a copy and I really liked the cover so I said- I like me a bit of madness, went to Amazon and bought a copy. I like to give back to society at times. Yes, it’s peanuts but still… keep Lady Karma happy, you know?
Not only rang Stuart’s words true- he couldn’t really say much for fear of giving away the ‘grand prize’, I don’t think I’m able to put it into a comprehensible paragraph to explain what goes down in this novella. And I freaking love it. I so absolutely and totally enjoy a chaotic reading experience. I enjoy not knowing what the author is going to tell me… Every page is a surprise and up yours overused tropes and unoriginal plots. Although, weak stomachs and upturned noses for horror, gore, graphic content will not want to torture themselves with it. Then again, go on, step out of your comfort zone!
Marked is a mix of horror, fantasy and sci-fi. In layman’s terms this book will make you feel like your subconscious produced a demon and it’s now coursing at high speed through your brain planting a proper trippy nightmare. The novella starts off with a scene whereby a child goes missing and you may think a who dunnit chase will go down. No. Nope. You’ll be spun around in circles just to confuse you, and pushed into a direction and Japanese underworld that paints a very vivid picture in your mind and you want the vivid picture to stop playing when the horrors begin. Graphic times 2843556345745.
"The teenagers stared as Mark threw the skin on the passenger seat of his vehicle, exposing his peeled chest. He climbed in the driver side, clicked in his seatbelt and started the engine, kicking the radio into life."
Sorry, what? Clicked in his seatbelt… over his peeled chest? Yeah, gag!
This is Stuart’s first book and it’s bloody good. He knows how to capture you into the story’s web and keep you in the environment, no matter how much you squirm and try to get free. The sounds, the images, the feelings- they’re all so crystal clear. So very clear. If I was to ever write a book, I would want to have Stuart’s skill in painting a picture with words. Brilliant.
My Rating: 5 trippy, possessed, blood dripping stars
If you want a break from the usual genre of stories, then this will be right up your street! This story continually keeps you guessing, so much so, that it is near impossible to put down.
Hope you can extract more from your head on put it onto paper. As far as I'm concerned, you are sleeping author that has only just awoken to realise his true potential. Please keep the novels coming Mr Park!
‘Marked’ is certainly a dark read. It follows a couple who lose their daughter whilst at the beach one day. Their journey sees them deal with the loss in very different ways. Mark (the father) seems to keep himself occupied with his work and his daughter Kate, but a chance meeting with a sadistic girl called Kiko soon changes things. Meanwhile, his wife (Kim) is embroiled in an affair, whilst becoming part of a strange organisation. ‘Marked’ blurs the lines between fiction and reality, particularly with Mark. Violent visions plague him and after a job he discovers his daughter Kate is missing! The next part of the book was a little strange. Mark seems a little too relaxed about his missing daughter, you’d think he would be in a state of panic having already lost one already, but he seems a little unconcerned overall.
The book takes a few more turns for the weird before a bloody ending ensues. ‘Marked’ sees a real mash-up of styles, and it’s a dreamy sort of read. I’d like to compare this book to the most recent Behemoth album ‘The Satanist’ – at first listen I couldn’t see much to it. It sounded a little messy, with no real stand-out songs, just a constant barrage of noise, however, after a second listen the pieces started to fall into place and it has gone on to be one of my favorite albums of the past few years. So, I don’t often read through books twice, but I did with this one. The second time I read it start to finish without a break and although my head felt like it had been put inside a blender, I certainly enjoyed it a lot more and I got a lot more out of it.
Stuart Park is definitely one to watch. I get the feeling he is trying a few things out with this one and for the most part it works. Each page is like reading a completely different story and I applaud him for this. This could’ve caused problems, it doesn’t and the narrative actually works really well and makes you pay close attention to the story. If you enjoy a challenging read then this is the novella for you. It’s a little like being inside a washing machine and it took me out of my reading comfort zone, but, after all, isn’t that what we want dark fiction to do?