Hi and welcome to FromBelgiumWithBookLove where it is my absolute pleasure to share with you an excerpt from Hinton Hollow Death Trip! My review is here if you want to have a look at that. Many thanks to Anne Cater for having me on the tour, and to Orenda Books for the excerpt.
Let’s have a quick look at the blurb first:
Five days in the history of a small rural town, visited and infected by darkness, are recounted by Evil itself. A stunning high-concept thriller from the author of Good Samaritans.
It’s a small story. A small town with small lives that you would never have heard about if none of this had happened.
Hinton Hollow. Population 5,120.
Little Henry Wallace was eight years old and one hundred miles from home before anyone talked to him. His mother placed him on a train with a label around his neck, asking for him to be kept safe for a week, kept away from Hinton Hollow.
Because something was coming.
Narrated by Evil itself, Hinton Hollow Death Trip recounts five days in the history of this small rural town, when darkness paid a visit and infected its residents. A visit that made them act in unnatural ways. Prodding at their insecurities. Nudging at their secrets and desires. Coaxing out the malevolence suppressed within them. Showing their true selves.
Making them cheat.
Making them steal.
Making them kill.
Detective Sergeant Pace had returned to his childhood home. To escape the things he had done in the city. To go back to something simple. But he was not alone. Evil had a plan.
That blurb alone, am I right?! Are you ready for this? Alright, here goes:
THAT THING AROUND HIS NECK
You will think she is an awful mother.
You will judge her.
Judgement has been around for as long as I have, but I find, in recent times, judgement comes quicker. And it is louder now.
Little Henry Wallace is eight years old but looks like he is six. And that boy is more than one hundred miles from home when somebody finally talks to him. They ask him where his mother is. But he doesn’t answer. He’s not allowed to talk to strangers.
That buys him six miles.
It’s another mile before anybody notices the thing around his neck.
The mother wasn’t always mad. Something to do with the father walking out one day. He left a note. And some unanswered questions. Quite the scandal in a place like Hinton Hollow. It changed her. People looked at her differently.
Little Henry Wallace, on the train alone, is still. He doesn’t seem frightened at all. Just doing what his mother told him. He is to sit in the carriage and not talk to anybody. Not until they ask him about that thing around his neck.
While travellers are more vigilant in current times – they are often drawn to a person of a certain age, sex and ethnicity when a backpack is left on a seat – they are not looking out for a boy, eight years of age, who only looks about six.
You may tell yourself that you would have talked to Little Henry Wallace before this point. But you, too, would have waited. It doesn’t look right, does it? That’s what stops you from approaching.
A NOTE ON BYSTANDER BEHAVIOUR
You wait because you think somebody else will help.
You hope they will.
You are scared because you don’t know the outcome.
You want to feel safe.
You are the most important person to you.
Henry has an older brother. The mother didn’t put him on a train with something around his neck. She kept him. She kept him with her in Hinton Hollow. One hundred and seven miles away.
And now there are four people around her son, on a train bound for the north of England and the elderly woman has grabbed something hanging around the boy’s neck.
‘What’s this?’ She is not asking Little Henry Wallace or her fellow passengers, she is thinking out loud.
Then, within a few seconds, she is reading out loud.
‘“My name is Henry Wallace. I am eight years old. My mother put me on this train to get me away. I can’t tell you where I came from until I have had seven sleeps. Please take care of me until then.”’
The elderly lady looks at the young boy’s face. He’s not afraid. She turns to the three passengers who have also taken an interest in the boy’s welfare.
Then she moves back to the boy and turns over the brown label in her hand that hangs on a string around Little Henry Wallace’s neck. This time, she reads in her head.
Please take care of my boy. I’m scared. Something is coming.
ONE THING TO KNOW ABOUT THE ELDERLY WOMAN
She does not stand by.
Hinton Hollow Death Trip is available now as eBook and will be out in paperback in August. It also might still be available from Goldsboro Books as a signed and numbered limited edition hardcover, be sure to check that out here.