reviews

3:33 AM by Luke Hindmarsh Book Review

Write on: Thu, 27 May 2021 by  in Charles' Reviews Read 510

4.5/5

3:33 AM is a book by Luke Hindmarsh, an author that I was greatly impressed by when he made his debut with MERCURY'S SON. That was a cyberpunk dystopian science fiction novel so I was curious what he would end up doing with a more straight Stephen King-esque horror novel. 3:33 AM was a novel I picked up as soon as it came out and I've been reading it over the course of a week, savoring it. I have very strong opinions on this book and want people to know it's a really good work all round.

The first thing to note when I talk about the Stephen King feel is that I'm quite serious. It really does invoke some of the horror master's style. It is a story about how ordinary people encounter things that are utterly beyond their rational ken and are not subject to typical rules like, "vampires cannot cross running water" or "a silver bullet kills a werewolf." No, the story follows the rules of a nightmare, which is to say you don't know them and cannot know them. It makes for an actually terrifying experience in places, particularly when juxtaposed with the distressingly mundane.

The premise is centered around two separate characters and an entirely mundane but tragic event. Saffron is an overworked nurse and Jack is an indie band member with his brother Eddie. Saffron makes a mistake driving while operating on too little sleep and Eddie is killed along with multiple other people. However, Saffron has the luck not only to get away with her crime but one of the dead drivers is blamed in her stead. Jack, by contrast, is emotionally devastated by the event and stuck trying to figure out how to move on with his life.

What follows is a creepy and surreal tale of both individuals becoming intertwined with dark supernatural currents, dreams, and a terrible figure that is waiting just beyond the edges of their consciousness. Luke Hindmarsh makes use of New Age mumbo jumbo that the two try to examine their experience, though, uncovering something much more sinister beyond the pop psychology that only opens the door further to something that should not exist.

I think what makes this book so effective is the large amount of page time that is devoted to getting into the heads of both our leads. Saffron is a decent person who has done a terrible unforgivable thing but can't bring herself to confront it. She's not even sure it really happened and digs herself deeper by trying to get close to Jack while he's trying to cope with the loss of his brother. Jack is something of a jerkass going through a religious crisis in reverse. A fairly normal atheist with a religious mother and a, well, bat-guano crazy Crowley worshiping brother, he wishes he had something to turn to in his time of need.

The author nicely uses real life occultism as a basis for his works while also giving it a somewhat jaundiced eye. There's something real and terrifying in this world but the people trying to make contact with are fooling themselves that they understand it. It's also something that isn't sweet or enlightening. Indeed, enlightenment doesn't seem to be the province of good or decent people at all but embracing the worst of your impulses. There's also the question over whether our protagonists are simply going mad.

Ultimately, this story really effected me and I am giving it high points as a horror novel. The ending was a bit abrupt and I would have liked for the author to have continued it with an extended epilogue but I am satisfied with what happened. I think Luke Hindmarsh has a career ahead of him in either science fiction or horror after these two very solid books.

Available here

Last modified on Thursday, 27 May 2021 20:12
C.T. Phipps

C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger on "The United Federation of Charles".

He's written Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, and The Supervillainy Saga.

Website: https://ctphipps.wordpress.com/