Book Review: Soon by Lois Murphy invites us to visit a haunted, and dying town

A haunted and deserted town, yet some people can’t, or won’t, leave. Any prospect of work is long since gone. The road sign offering directions to where the town is, has been removed. Yet, for a small group of locals it’s home, and the only place they know.

perfectly captures the feel of country town Australia. A remote town where a drive of three hours takes you too a decent supermarket. Nebulah, a fictional town set in Western Australia, is filled with your typical Australian characters. One winter solstice a mist drifts into town at night destroying anything that draws a breath. Some people leave, other people die, some people become the mist. Murphy, through the story, developed these characters well. Pete – the retired policeman, Gina – his loyal dog, Milly – the stubborn, yet loveable older woman, and Li – the tough biscuit. The town is populated with a handful of decent citizens, the odd bad one, with some good and annoying out-of-town cops bolstering the population. We’re asked to read with empathy how this town of five hundred and forty seven residents was soon left with only six. Murphy offers readers tidbits of what happened in Nebulah, dropping hints as the story progresses and builds.

As the pages turn the mist entwines with the dead, and those left alive fight to become stronger, their dreams saturated in horror. No-one can, or should, go outside in Nebulah after dark. Tourists come and go, the media interest dries up quickly. All the while the population continues to drop – then there were four… three…

The novel form really allows Murphy to indulge in the characters thoughts, and in the process reveals much about herself, her characters and us, the reader. Soon depicts tragic circumstances, but also highlights the courage and plight of people when faced with extraordinary circumstances. Partly inspired by the true story of Wittenoom, the ill fated West Australian asbestos town, Soon is the engrossing story of a haunted town, where silence is as empty as an echo of lost life, and its residents ultimate fight for survival.

Soon is available now through Transit Lounge Publishing