by Luke Hindmarsh
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Pub Date 11 May 2021 | Archive Date 31 Mar 2021
Crossroad Press, Macabre Ink
From the bestselling author of Mercury’s Son
Jack’s brother was a hell of a singer before he died.
Saffron would do anything to change what happened. Jack just wants to come to terms with it.
Her dreams are haunted by guilt until her nightmares seep into the waking world. His mind is clouded by grief, and his memories are changing.
Drawn to each other, they have a chance to break free from the past. As their lives collide, Saffron and Jack will find that a guilt denied only festers and some secrets refuse to die.
Average rating from 5 members
We start this novel with our two main characters, Saffron and Jack. Both are dealing with major traumatic events that are unknowingly related. As a result of these events, Saffron begins looking into more metaphysical means of releasing guilt and pain (is this ever a great idea in most circumstances? Probably not so much). On top of this, Jack is finding that his memories after this trauma aren’t altogether reliable. This opens the door for things that should not be allowed to exist. Will Saffron and Jack find a way to overcome what has befallen them or is it all too late?
This was a weird read for me. The character building was top notch and that lead to a more meaningful ending, but there was a certain something that just didn’t sit properly. Most of the real action occurs in the last 25% of the book so that would probably be important to know going in.
Despite my weirdnesses about parts of this story, the book was pretty good and I would still recommend it to readers who enjoy thriller-lite aspects and metaphysical ideas. It’s a 3 star read for me.
Thanks so much to NetGalley and Crossroad Press for this eARC in exchange for an honest review!
Scary read! I really enjoyed this story! Looking forward to reading more books by this author! Highly recommend!
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.