A tiny Australian town is beset by a nightly horror-filled mist in Murphy’s debut.
The town of Nebulah was a small but bustling town until nine months ago, on the winter solstice, when the mist appeared. Now the population has dwindled to six, the last remaining stragglers who have nowhere to go coming together in the evenings to keep each other safe. Pete was once a police officer and relies on that experience to help keep everyone together and in contact with the nearest town as his group slowly whittles itself to nothing. When a young girl and self-proclaimed psychic shows up at his door one night, sheltering with him from the storm of nightmares outside, she implores him to leave town before the coming solstice, or it will be the end. Her words ring in his ears as he spends the coming months trying to figure out how to convince the last remaining townspeople to leave with him. With a similar energy and frantic dread as that found in Josh Malerman’s Bird Box, Murphy has constructed a world in which the idea of a town plagued by an actual calamity that is somehow ignored by the outside world is completely believable. To complicate the question of why the residents don’t just leave, Murphy subtly builds a secondary monster in the state benefits system that traps these lower-income townspeople in place without the money to rescue themselves. The juxtaposition of the legitimate terror in the town and the residents' cool treatment from the rest of the country, emphasized by a scene of Pete visiting his estranged daughter, only adds to the uneasiness of the book. The seductive monsters are almost more inviting than the outside world.
A solid new entry into the horror scene filled with anxiety and dread.