Rowan Vane, a wannabe writer with the confidence of a leaf in a hurricane, is on a soul-searching vacation with his damaged family in Hell’s Gulf – a ramshackle, no-horse stain on Florida’s reputation.
You might be forgiven for asking why he’d go there, but forgiveness isn’t much of a commodity amongst the denizens of this godforsaken place – they’ve a bit of an axe to grind.
With a history as dark and pungent as its waters, this bit-too-quiet beach town in the navel of nowhere is patrolled by a delightfully xenophobic sheriff who sees ‘foreign agents’ arriving on every rotten jetty.
This picturesque town boasts abandoned ghostly ruins, unusually amorous sea life, mutant creatures and dastardly deeds that form the stories of the town’s affable alcoholics.
Oh, and something’s been killing the people here for decades.
Yes, folks, Hell’s Gulf really has it all. All you need is a little imagination.
Fortunately, Rowan’s brought his along with all the bells and whistles.
And some fishing tackle.
Nick’s writing immediately engages the reader with its delicate balance of simplicity and depth. You’ll sympathise, empathise, laugh with and be disgusted by the characters he’s created, all the while enjoying this gruesome whale-of-a-time story about a writer who’s coming of age at a time of our lives often downplayed in such a tale. This isn’t about prepubescent, hormonal disarray; instead, it’s an exploration of accountability and responsibility, self-reflection and the adjusting of one’s trajectory that so many young(ish) people fail to do at such a major transition point. It’s also about family, loss, recovery, and learning what’s valuable in this world of growing apathy and exploitation. And yes, it's also about slimy, toothy creatures and blood and guts (of course!) - TG
"It is hard to not enjoy the hard work of…Nick Carlson. Hell’s Gulf is a labor of love with lore resembling familiar franchises that allows readers to easily connect. Many of the sea critters, monstrosities, and anomalies all contain some type of Pirates [of the Caribbean] aura, but with Carlson’s twisted words painting a more sinister vibe…Carlson's brilliant and enchanting use of dialogue…demonizes whatever it touches…a flavor of some serious scenes coupled with a little undertone of humor or smugness…reminiscent of a Joe Hill style of writing that is both enjoyable and…deadly effective. Carlson also knows his fishies…[h]is familiarity with these briny abominations helps keep them realistic and believable. If this were at my local book store, I think I’d find myself picking it up based on my similar interests." N. A. Battaglia
"Nick Carlson has crafted a deep dive into a world of horror filled with well-drawn characters, explosive action, and surprising twists. [His] debut novel is a riveting excursion into a world best visited only in the pages of a book. Hell’s Gulf is wonderfully brought to life in this tale of men and monsters." David Lubar, Author of Hidden Talents