Equinox by David Towsey

May 13, 2022

Everyone is not as they seem in this fantasy novel, replete with war, witchcraft and secrets.

Christophor Morden lives by night. His day-brother, Alexsander, knows only the sun. They are two souls in a single body, in a world where identities change with the rising and setting of the sun. Night-brother or day-sister, one never sees the light, the other knows nothing of the night.

Early one evening, Christophor is roused by a call to the city prison. A prisoner has torn his eyes out and cannot say why. Yet worse: in the sockets that once held his eyes, teeth are growing. The police suspect the supernatural, so Christophor, a member of the king’s special inspectorate, is charged with finding the witch responsible.

Night-by-night, Christophor’s investigation leads him ever further from home, toward a backwards village on the far edge of the kingdom. But the closer he gets to the truth, the more his day-brother’s actions frustrate him. Who is Alexsander protecting? What does he not want Christophor to discover?
And all the while, an ancient and apocalyptic ritual creeps closer to completion…

It’s the premise that is going to capture your attention initially when it comes to Equinox by David Towsey. The idea that everyone shares their body with someone else. The night is yours and the day is theirs or vice versa. You and your other half lead entirely separate lives, never meeting but existing just on the periphery of one another. Important decisions like your choice of career or who you decide to share your life with suddenly matter just that little bit more than they did before.

For the more morally ambiguous amongst you, the potential delights of infidelity or the dark promise of crime are beset with all manner of new factors to take into account. I don’t imagine for a second your body sharing counterpart is going to be over the moon if they wake up in a jail cell meant for you*. This is where Special Inspector Christophor Morden comes in. In the dark half of existence, he is tasked with uncovering the truth behind supernatural occurrences. For Christophor, demons and witchcraft are commonplace. He is a veteran of this nocturnal life and you can tell it has been grinding him down for years.

Christophor’s daytime brother, Alexsander, is quite the reverse. A musician by trade, Alexsander seems to have inherited the sunnier outlook; he lives in the light. He never sees the worst in people.
The chapters alternate between Christophor and Alexsander’s perspectives and I love how it quickly becomes obvious that though the two men are fundamentally different there is also a deep bond between them both. They describe one another’s actions, and you get the sense they have become passengers in one another’s lives.

There are moments where the narrative dances the fine line between fantasy and horror. We’re deep into the realms of magic and curses so a bit of body horror flavoured ickiness thrown in for good measure seems like a sensible approach to me.

Towsey writing paints an evocative picture, classic movies like Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter and Witchfinder General kept popping into my head. You know the sort of thing, isolated communities apparently innocent but in reality chock full of secrets with a big old slice of evil thrown in for good measure. I can’t help but be enthralled by this stuff. Where the book really excels is the thought the author has put into the smallest details. Want to annoy your alternate? Go to bed drunk and they wake with the hungover. I always appreciate when a writer goes the extra mile and considers everything about a fictional world they craft. That attention makes their work that much more enjoyable to devour.

I’m already a big fan of David Towsey’s work previous work. The Walkin’ trilogy was a wonderful interpretation of the zombie mythos and he has achieved a similar feat here. Equinox is the reimagining of the police procedural as a dark fantasy novel. I do hope that Special Inspector Morden and his brother will return.

Equinox is published by Head of Zeus and is available now. Highly recommended.

My musical recommendation to accompany this novel is the soundtrack to the television show Unforgotten, specifically seasons three and four. Michael Price’s score has a subtle, mildly disquieting tone that picks up on the sinister undercurrent in the novel.

*Actually, how that is dealt with is pretty clever but I won’t spoil the surprise. It’s clear the author has spent time pondering the logistics involved in his world-building.

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