No one had ever just stumbled across Nowhere Park before.
Bogart and Holliday weren’t even looking for trouble when they found the entrance. They were just trying to pass the time during summer vacation, and stay away from home. The two friends found the entrance by accident — but nothing’s accidental when wayward souls find their way to Nowhere Park.
In his newest urban fantasy novel, The Bandit Kings of Nowhere Park, author Jonas Samuelle transports the reader to Phoenix, AZ. Every summer, a pathway opens to Nowhere Park, a liminal place connecting the seven biggest cities of the American Southwest. The park is only open to teen delinquents, and serves as a sanctuary from the rules and restrictions of society.
Every year, Nowhere Park becomes one huge summer-long party of booze, drugs, and lawlessness. As new recruits, Bogart and Holliday are expected to pay their dues by robbing liquor stores and bringing the alcohol to Nowhere Park as tribute to the king. As they hone their skills and pull raid after raid, the two feel like they’ve finally found a place they belong. In the outside world, Bogart and Holliday are seen as nothing more than troubled teens. In Nowhere Park, they’re valued for their cunning and ferocity — the same traits that brand them as delinquents back in Phoenix.
The book doesn’t shy away from depicting the harsh reality of life for troubled teens. Domestic violence, substance abuse, and police corruption are all discussed in no uncertain terms. Bogart and Holliday have both experienced their fair share of hardships, and rely on Nowhere Park as an escape from their struggles in the outside world.
In the park, disadvantaged teens can band together, where they’d otherwise be vilified for their troubles. When the schools punish them for breaking the rules, the kids of Nowhere Park go where the law can’t touch them.
The book’s tone is reminiscent of outlaw stories from the Old West. The characters pull countless heists throughout the novel, following in the footsteps of Billy the Kid and Doc Holliday.
MYSTERY BEHIND THE MAGIC
Samuelle is an Arizona resident, so it’s no surprise that he captures the environment so effortlessly. The descriptions of Phoenix are so evocative, it’s easy to feel as though you’ve been transported to the cool, arid desert night.
The setting of the novel also entwines seamlessly with the fantasy elements. Samuelle adds elements of the mythology of the American Southwest into the story, as well as legends of his own creation.
The magic of Nowhere Park is captivating but mysterious. Bogart says it best as he struggles to uncover its origins: “It was a beautiful thing indeed, but my mind was restless. Since our first night, the mystery of the Park had been hooked into my head. The Park, the Snipes, the king, what was it all? Where’d it come from? What was the purpose? I was a fish on a reel … I had to know.”
As Bogart and Holliday spend more time in the park, the two discover that things hang in a delicate balance. Nowhere Park is a hideaway from the laws of normal society — but anyone caught breaking the king’s laws is in serious danger. When Bogart and Holliday clash heads with the tyrannical new king, they’re forced to confront the fact that their safe haven might not be so safe after all.
“Life’s not fair,” the residents of Nowhere Park repeat often, probably referring to life outside the park. But maybe inside as well.
The Bandit Kings of Nowhere Park is available for purchase.