Hi and welcome to another #Orentober #ThrowBackThursday! This week, I’m taking you back to my review of Hinton Hollow Death Trip by Will Carver, a book that should be celebrated for sheer originality alone.
Let’s have a 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.
Hi and welcome to my review of Hinton Hollow Death Trip! The plan was for me to save this review for Orentober, but I just can’t do it. I’m physically and mentally incapable of sitting on this review for months to come, I need to shout about it right this minute. So here goes. Note that since any Will Carver novel is a nightmare to review, I decided to let the book/Will/Evil do a bit of the talking, all the quotes were taken from the Kindle edition.
Some authors are on your auto-buy list because you always know just what kind of book to expect. Others get on the list because you know to expect the unexpected. Picking up a Will Carver novel is like going on an adventure, one that takes you to places you didn’t expect to go, places you never knew you wanted to go, and frankly even some places you didn’t really want to go, but it’s Will Carver so you’ll let him take you there anyway.
Most authors I’ve read basically write the same book over and over again. They stick to their style, their genre, the first or third person singular, the same characters. There’s nothing wrong with that, obviously, but I love that Orenda Books house a few exceptions, Louise Beech and her flawless genre-hopping springs to mind immediately, and Will Carver of course, who does something equally rare and hugely impressive: he sticks to his style and his genre, even a character or two, but he writes an entirely different book each and every single time.
After the January David series and Good Samaritans, which more or less adhere to the general thriller rules, and Nothing Important Happened Today, which takes the leap to a first person plural combined with manual-like bits, Hinton Hollow is in the first person singular, from the POV of Evil. And it WORKS! It’s fucked up obviously, but then I expected nothing less.
Fear is my greatest tool. It can be used to make a person do almost anything. You can take education, information, motivation and throw it all away, fear is the only thing you require. It is a slow and deadly poison. And it is effective.
Hinton Hollow Death Trip is the third DS Pace novel, and it’s set immediately after Nothing Important Happened Today. As opposed to most series, Pace isn’t even that big a character, so don’t worry if you haven’t read the previous ones. There are some elements that carried over from Good Samaritans all the way to Hinton Hollow, and there are some references to NIHT, but you should be able to follow without having read them. Note that the series as a whole is amazing though and you should really opt for the whole experience and start at the beginning.
I’m a child of the 90s so Joan Osborne wondering what if God was one of us is part of my life’s soundtrack. But what if Evil was one of us, in a not quite corporeal manner. What if Evil roamed the earth, just trying to do his job? Prodding, instigating, converting sleepy little towns like Hinton Hollow to places where people throw bricks through windows, free pigs in the woods to hunt them, shoot people, can’t see beyond their own rage/gluttony/greed until it’s too late.
This is how evil works. I just have to get you started. What you do with that feeling is entirely down to you.
It’s thought-provoking in unexpected ways. The concept of Evil as an entity on earth, of Evil wanting to be a little more lazy but needing to step it up because humans have changed in such a way that Evil has to work harder to restore balance. The logic is baffling in its plausibility.
Humankind has created evil at a rate that even I cannot keep up with. So, in order to be heard, in order for me to make you understand how awful your race has become, I have to be deliberately shocking. I have to always go beyond what you can do. Evil will always exist, but the better you are, the quieter I can be. You see? I don’t feel sad for the people in this story, I’m not supposed to, I am Evil. I am here for balance. As a necessity. It is you that I feel sad for.
Once again, Will Carver has gone beyond writing fiction, beyond storytelling. He questions the reader, challenges the reader to question themselves, their thoughts and feelings and actions. So once again, I did not find peace, I found turmoil. I made myself stop and take the challenge, ponder the questions, find an answer. How did I feel about Dorothy, how did I feel about the cat, will my soul be lighter than it should be?
So yeah this was not a quick read. I guess it could be, if you want it to? But that would probably defeat the purpose of reading a Will Carver novel. It should not be merely read, it should be experienced.
But beware. There is no one, literally no one in the world who can make me lose faith in humankind as effortlessly as Will Carter. His observations are astoundingly and at times painfully astute.
AN OBSERVATION ABOUT PEOPLE AND DEATH
The execution of an adult can, somehow, be understood and reasoned.
The death of a child can be heartbreaking but rationalised.
The massacre of livestock can be largely ignored.
Yet, the killing of a pet — particularly a dog or a cat — is devastating.
An unforgivable act. It is evil. I find this distinction between living things perplexing.
I went into Hinton Hollow Death Trip with the highest expectations. I didn’t know what to expect in terms of story, but I fully expected to love it. Sometimes that kind of reasoning blows up in your face but Hinton Hollow held its ground, and then some. Thought-provoking, scary and with hints of Stephen King’s Derry, Hinton Hollow is a brilliant read, absolutely fascinating, wildly entertaining and highly recommended! Just make sure you have a light and fluffy and preferable pink book at the ready to read after, you may need it…