“Equinox” by David Towsey: a book review

Equinox by David Towsey tells a gruesome tale of murder and witches. There are a lot of twists and a big central mystery. Beyond that, it’s one of the most daring and mind-blowing premise I’ve ever read.

What is Equinox by David Towsey?

We are used to stories where people have alter-egos. We’ve had stories where our protagonists unwittingly turn into monsters at night. In Equinox our heroes are two completely different people in the same body. I’m pretty sure this has been done before. I’ve never encountered a world where everyone in the book has a diurnal and nocturnal personality, entirely separate from each other. So distinct that the night prisons empty in the morning because the day people are completely innocent of the crimes their night counterparts have perpetrated.

The novel opens narrated by Christophor Morden; King’s Inspector. A witch hunter. His day brother, Alexsander, is a musician. When Christophor is sent south to track a macabre supernatural event, Alexsander has no choice but to go with him.

Towsey’s device sets up a curious interplay between day and night characters. Or almost a non-interaction. People met by Alexsander will never be met by Christophor. Still, Christophor’s actions could have a profound effect on Alexsander and his friends. The reverse is also true.

Everyone in the world of Towsey has a day/night-sister/brother. Day people can never meet night people. The transition is aided and encouraged by sleep and the chewing of an herb. Memories also pass, and part of Christophor’s story also tells us what his brother did during the day. Alexsander’s actions are filtered through the lens of Christophor’s prejudice against his brother’s actions and associates.

Halfway through the novel, the narrative and the object of the investigation change. We now have Alexander’s perspective on the preparation for the titular autumnal equinox. A time when witches are the strongest. Now we see Alexsander unfiltered and get a different perspective on Christophor’s motives and decisions.

Leaving aside the peculiar split personality, the novel is set in a realistic but superstitious world based on 18th century Europe. The accounts in the novel are dated “1721”, although there are no obvious comparisons to real-world events or places.

Why read Equinox?

If you read a book this year with such an original premise as Equinox, I would be very surprised. Even without its peculiar premise, David Towsey gives us quality gothic horror, filled with grand wizarding shenanigans served with gruesome and bizarre whippings.

Christophor and Alexsander’s escapades in an attempt to prevent a major catastrophe are compelling. They would make a great duo, although, of course, they never share screen time together. (That’s not entirely true, but I’ll let you find out why!)

Impressed as I was with the construction of the dual world, I wasn’t entirely convinced that it worked as a storytelling device. I sometimes had trouble remembering who was who. There aren’t many characters in the book, but of course for every physical body in the book there are two personalities. Keeping track of which sphere they lived in or which alter-ego they belonged to was sometimes tricky.

It’s hard to say if the mystery would be as good in a simpler universe. Maybe not. Some of the hidden information is hidden because not all the pieces of the puzzle are available to the two detectives. Sometimes, only the Morden brothers’ different perspectives were what allowed them to piece together the clues.

Although it is sometimes necessary to flip through the pages to check where we have already encountered a particular character, I very much appreciated Equinox. It has a big central mystery, filled with a host of captivating and entertaining characters. The day versus night division further elevates the tale from an interesting gothic horror to a highly original and innovative work of fantasy horror.

If you would like a copy of Equinox, you can do it here in the US and here in the UK.

If you liked this book, check out my other reviews, here.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to write this review.

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Angela C. Hale