Marshland: Dreams and Nightmares on the Edge of London

‘I had become a bit part in the dengue-fevered fantasy of a sick city.’

Cocker spaniel by his side, Rees wanders the marshes of Hackney, Leyton and Walthamstow, avoiding his family and the pressures of life. He discovers a lost world of Victorian filter plants, ancient grazing lands, dead toy factories and tidal rivers on the edgelands of a rapidly changing city.

Ghosts are his friends. As strange tales of bears, crocodiles, magic narrowboats and apocalyptic tribes begin to manifest themselves, Rees embarks on a psychedelic journey across time and into the dark heart of London.

Marshland is a deep map of the east London marshes, a blend of local history, folklore and weird fiction, where nothing is quite as it seems. Gareth E Rees has written a London text like no other.

Marshland contains striking illustrations from artist Ada Jusic.

Praise for Marshland

‘Layered London, black, funny, marshy, full of horrible vigour & hidden channels.’

– M John Harrison

‘This idiosyncratic bumbleburst of local history, folklore and informed creativity captures the marshes as vividly as any book ever could . . . This is first-class writing that slithers between genres like an eel in a library. One day, all books will be written like this.’

– The Londonist

Marshland is essential reading – a psychedelic trip into London’s secret wilderness.’

– John Rogers

‘Whatever it is, New Weird, Cryptozoology, Psychogeography or Deep Map, Marshland is simply essential reading for anyone engaged in locality, the literature of place, the sociology of hinterlands, the pressure points between the human and the natural or just lovers of darned good writing.’

– Caught by the River

Marshland is very much a document of the old, weird London, and its enduring hold on the imagination.’

– The Workshy Fop

Marshland is a delirious tapestry of tales and adventures in the marshes of London; it mixes first hand accounts of wandering with suspicious histories and wild, closed and obsessive fictions. Its initial and abrupt shifts of perspective settle quickly into a spectral ecology that weaves together its trangressive bodies of concrete history and memory with a Polaroid immediacy and yet seemingly beyond the ken of any organisation.’

– Mythogeography

Marshland is an ode to the East London wilderness.  The area encompassing Hackney, Leyton, and Walthamstow marshes provides a surreal and dreamlike setting where time, as Rees puts it, is “in a perpetual remix.”  It flows forward, pulls back, curls in on itself . . . Decades are superimposed on each other like waves stretching across the sand.’

– Insatiable Booksluts

‘Meticulously researched, clever and thoughtful, Gareth Rees weaves his experiences and research on the past, present and future of Hackney marshes into a psychedelic mix of fact and fantasy. At times mystifying, bizarre and hilarious, Rees deftly explores his chosen corner of London with verve and imagination. It’s a virtuoso performance, inspiring, unique and strangely beautiful.’

– Slowboat

Marshland is a rich tapestry of themes, styles and voices. Gareth Rees draws the reader in with what initially seems to be a straightforward and comfortable walking guide through the marshes of East London. Then, suddenly, he whisks us away on a magic carpet ride of myth, fiction, poetry, natural history and archaeology.’

– Psychogeographic Review

Marshland will make you look at your own environment in a different light.’

– MR Cosby’s Blog

Marshland is autobiography, psychogeography, mythogeography, history, personal journey, psychedelic discovery, even a soundtrack. Rees turns the landscape and the Lea into actors as people and nature fight back.’

– Games Monitor

‘This book is an example of what all psychedelic psychogeography should, but too often sadly fails, to be: readable and entertaining.

– Hackney Citizen

‘This is the kind of book I’ve been wanting to see more of from environmental writers, taking a place seriously in ALL its dimensions from the social to the artistic to the historical to the imaginative to the polluted.’

– Steve Himmer, author of The Bee-Loud Glade

‘Highly recommended hallucinogenic forage through weird London landscapes.’

– Peter Watts

Marshland is exemplary as an edgelands text.’

– Alluvium Journal