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29 Jul 2010

The Ticking

The Hollows Book 1: The Ticking is written by Ben Larken and published by LL Publications.
Acclaimed to be better than Ben’s first novel, Pit-stop, which won the 2009 EPPIE Award for the category of horror.

Ben Larken resides in Fort Worth with his wife and 3 kids; he works as a Police Dispatcher.
The Hollows Book 1: The Ticking is Ben’s second novel and is part 1 of 4 in the series.
Book 2 The Man in the Wall is due out in the fall of 2010.

The cover art for The Ticking was created by Susi Steele and depicts a close up of a grandfather clock with blood dripping from the face. The hands of the clock point to ten past ten with the shadow of a skeletal being with an outstretched arm and hand to the left of the clocks face. The cover is two shades of brown looking as if someone has shone a torch upon the clock in a darkened room.

The cover appears true to the title, The Ticking, of this first novel in the Hollows series although this title does not appear on the cover or the spine of the book but in fact the title page.

The authors name appears at the top of the cover in large black writing highlighted in red whilst the series title, The Hollows, appears in larger writing at the bottom.

In 1949, young Tess Buckner is like every child inquisitive, adventurous and she loves stories. When her mother promises to tell her another story in return for her fetching a bucket of water, Tess agrees and whilst out makes a discovery of a bunker in the forest behind her home. Upon hearing a voice crying for help Tess investigates, soon after Tess is witness to a terrible murder which will leave her traumatised and having to grow up very quickly.

In 2009, Cop David Alders has spent the past decade putting both his life and career on hold in search for his missing wife. He has spent this time compiling files of everything he believes can bring her case to a close. Upon deciding there are no more answers leading to her possible whereabouts he finally chooses his final option of looking down the barrel of his gun.

With growing bills and a daughter about to head off to college David decides he and his daughter can no longer afford to live in the family home and it is time to move. Finding a complex called The Hollows, set away from other buildings and the main road separated by a vast forest and bushes it seems like the perfect place to start over, except for the loud ticking.

Woken by a grotesque burnt man Melanie Alders attempts to convince her father that she wasn’t dreaming and did in fact experience these goings on, but an uninterested David is more interested in the fact he just woke up to find himself reliving yesterday.

The Hollows is a complex place full of interesting people both old and young. There are strange goings on which although at first appear to be nothing more than usual goings on one would expect to find in such a tightly knit community, will in fact reveal themselves to be a series of related events no matter how mundane they maybe.

The characters are diverse ranging from old men loving their poker night tournaments, to over protective mothers with son’s in their twenties, one Rennie who does all he can for his mother never thinking of himself and Dontae who is Rennie’s complete opposite.

The Ticking is a story of humanity, life, death and immortality and is filled to the brim with questions such as how do all these characters lives come together? Why? What is the incessant ticking and where is it coming from? And, how did David Alders travel to the past? Every question on every characters mind will have you turning page after page and since every chapter does not lead on from the previous, you will find yourself reading as quickly as possible to get the answers you seek.

As many questions that are asked within the book even more are asked by the reader, how far are you willing to go for those you love? How far would you be willing to go to obtain immortality? And what are you willing to give up, to obtain it?

Time has always been considered the one thing man cannot use his/her five senses to experience and yet he/she does. Every minute of every second of every day we are experiencing time and it is measured by the events taking place in that time. Someone once said that we are experiencing the future all the time because time is always moving and this saying is quite true to this story in that new futures are created all the time and that the story is constantly shifting between different time periods.

Thought to be linear, time is always ticking away from us but if we could go back and right our wrongs would we? Could we? The laws of physics say no because we would essentially delete the time period in which we ourselves travelled back.

The Ticking is a very well and carefully constructed book that even as you close the book after reading the final page you are left still wanting more because you still have more questions.

I found this book to be even better than Mr Larken’s first novel, Pit-Stop, and I did enjoy how he managed to fit in two instances where by anyone who has read Pit-stop will be reminded of it in this book.

The only fault I can find in this book is with regard to the cover, I would have personally been more inclined to have had an indication on the cover and spine that this was Book 1 and titled The Ticking because on a bookshelf if the spine of the next three books are the same, there could be some confusion.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone aged 18 years and over due to some of the content.

I give Ben Larken and The Ticking Book 1 of The Hollows Series 5 stars

By R.N. Hadley

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