August 1st, 2020 by Jane Turner
This review of Hinton Hollow Death Trip by Will Carver comes via Random Things Blog Tours. I reviewed an Advance Reader Copy (ARC). Hinton Hollow Death Trip was published by Orenda Books in June 2020.
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.
Narrated by Evil. A very good concept that Mr Carver carries out well.
In my ARC, there were a few tense issues – i.e. sentences changing tense halfway through (past to present). These jolted me a bit, but were just something I noted down and didn’t highly detract from the read.
As it’s quite the story.
Evil visits the town of Hinton Hollow, Berkshire, for 5 days. In the narration, Evil clearly outlines occurrences influenced by him, and those that aren’t. And both are equally evil.
Evil touches everyone in town, planting seeds of ideas, nudging them to take a chance. The townsfolk aren’t aware, but are all affected by Evil’s touch – even if it’s just a metaphorical light hand on a shoulder.
Mr Carver has created the quintessential English town, the ‘chocolate-box’ version, then populated it with the characters you expect; the town matriarch who has to know of and be involved in everything, the cafe owner who is her sidekick, the ineffectual and ‘counting days to retirement’ police chief, the politician concerned only with reelection, the disaffected housewives, the ineffectual priest, the ‘distant’ fathers… Everyone you’d expect is here – along with some you don’t.
This is the third outing for DS Pace, and if (like me) you read this as a standalone, you may be left wanting. There’s very little backstory on DS Pace shared in this book. Maybe that’s by author design, but I’d appreciate a paragraph or two.
It also seems like there are some characters thrown in for no reason – and their stories aren’t really explained, there’s few character arcs that effectively resolve. Of course, as Evil says, that’s not the point of the story.
I take that on board, but I still like to know what happens to the characters. Call it my foible. There’s also hints of some big mystery/scandal in the past, but that is also never explained. I was left curious.
Hinton Hollow Death Trip is well worth the read, though, even if we don’t get resolutions or all the background we’d like.
Carver’s Evil is sarcastic, vitriolic and, in a strange but understandable way, sad. We are presented with an Evil who seems to despair that he has so much to work with – and we are left with a treatise on morality, kindness and today’s version of humanity.
Hinton Hollow Death Trip will surely make you think. Will Carver will leave you with questions, feeling slightly unsettled – because that’s what good authors are supposed to do, right?
Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series.
He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company.
He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his two children. Good Samaritans was book of the year in Guardian, Telegraph and Daily Express, and hit number one on the ebook charts.
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