There’s Something Wrong With Aunty Beth – by Mark Towse – Book Review

SALES LINK: There’s Something Wrong With Aunty Beth

‘I want to take readers on a ride, but, in the end, I want to throw them from the carriage.’

There’s Something Wrong with Aunty Beth’ is a collection of my favourite horror journeys, the best of the best I’ve taken to date. Twenty terrifying tales with something to suit all horror fans, from straight-up dread to signature Towsey weird. You’ll never be the same again, and that’s a Towsey guarantee. Within these haunted pages, you’ll also find my new novella, ‘Mother Dearest.’

Mother: A word that should summon trust, loyalty, love, and protection. But what if something begins eating away at such security, slowly transforming said Mother into something else entirely?

Hello my fellow book lovers! I’m here today to review a short story collection so delicious that I could just eat it. Within these pages you’ll find 20 short stories plus a novella. I was going to pick my three favourites to talk about but it’s too hard to pick just three, such is the quality of this collection, so I’m going to bleet on a little about five (and a little about the novella too!).

First up, I want to mention the novella – Mother Dearest – which was so spine-tingling and creepy it was enough to induce a shudder or two. It’s about a family that moves to a house where the previous occupants came to an unfortunate end, and the pregnant matriarch of the current family goes a bit… peculiar. This was so unsettling and if I had to compare it to other stories I’d say it’s like a cross between the movies Sinister, The Amityville Horror, and You Are Not My Mother.

First up in my top 5 shorts is the title story, There’s Something Wrong With Aunty Beth. This a must read whether or not you’ve read Towse’s previous novella, Nana (but I mean, you NEED Nana in your life so if you’ve not read it yet, correct that immediately!). George visits his Aunty Beth, who used to be fine and normal but is now weird and absolutely repulsive to him. It’s a great, gross, funny, and horrifying story that does justice to its predecessor. I swear I could just read stories in this world forever.

Next in my favourites, we have The Fruits of Labour. This might be my first favourite overall. A writer stays in a remote country house to work on a novel. There are two trees on the property that bear the most delicious, strange fruit. He can’t get enough of said fruit. I can’t tell you more without spoiling it but I can say this – the way that fruit is described had my bearded goat mouth watering and then… and then I was almost sick in it. BLESSED BE THE FRUIT, INDEED. It takes such a dark turn and the story itself is just SO weird, but the best kind of weird. I honestly wouldn’t even know which author’s writing to compare this to, in terms of its weirdness. It sort of reads like something written by the demented lovechild of Clive Barker and Joe Hill. I could easily see it as a Tales from the Crypt episode.

Next up to be praised is Bucket of Chicken. This is about a cabbie who takes a strange passenger, who he soon regrets picking up. This had that creepy late 80s/early 90s pulp horror feel that I grew up on, and I loved it.

Retail Therapy is a horrific hoot. It’s about an older couple who venture out during the pandemic to go shopping, just when the law about masks and such went lax after the initial panic. It’s a perfect horror fiction depiction of the height of the real-world fear and paranoia that temporarily consumed us all, but is also funny enough to take the edge off.

Last but not least, I have to mention Just a Fly. Um… how to explain this story… it’s… well, it’s sick. And sickening. There’s this guy and he’s supposed to be romancing his girlfriend but… there’s this fly, right, and he quite likes this fly. What initially reads as some sort of delusional illness turns into something greater than the sum of all its very excellent parts. I had no idea where Towse was going with this, and he took it to what has to be the most unpredictable conclusion I’ve ever seen in a short.

Overall, I honestly can’t recommend this enough. There’s a great mix of themes and various oddities here and if you’re someone who likes things to lean into bizarre but without going full bizarro, I think this is for you.

If you’d like to get your own copy or check out the author, the links are below:



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