Tommy Phan is a successful detective novelist living the American Dream in southern California. One evening he comes home to find a small rag doll on his doorstep. It’s a simple doll, covered entirely in white cloth, with crossed black stitches for the eyes and mouth, and another pair forming an X over the heart. Curious, he brings it inside.
That night Tommy hears an odd popping sound and looks up to see the stitches breaking over the doll’s heart. And in minutes the fabric of Tommy Phan’s reality will be torn apart. Something terrifying emerges from the pristine white cloth, something that will follow Tommy wherever he goes. Something that he can’t destroy. It wants Tommy’s life, and he doesn’t know why. He has only one ally, a beautiful, strangely intuitive waitress he meets by chance—or by a design far beyond his comprehension. He has too many questions, no answers, and very little time. Because the vicious and demonically clever doll has left this warning on Tommy’s computer screen:
The deadline is dawn.
Time is running out.
Rating: 3 / 5
Started: June 9th, 2016
Finished: June 11th, 2016
Drink Pairing: Rickards Red (because you were there for me in the end, old friend)
Let me start with a warning:
This is not a horror. At all.
There is nothing scary about this book. There are a few moments that get the adrenaline going, and Koontz is amazing at building the suspense, but there is no reason this book should be filed in the horror section. Sure it has a demon creature thing chasing them, and yes there’s a smidge of witchcraft, but that doesn’t make it a horror. It didn’t make me quiver and look over my shoulder before curling up for the evening, it didn’t make me worry about what was lurking around a corner or under the bed, and it didn’t make me think twice about the world around me. That is what defines a horror, in my opinion. While Tick Tock is cute and a great read, if you go into this expecting a horror you will be sorely mistaken.
Phew! Now that I’ve got that off my chest, I can get on with the actual review.
An adorable thriller with quick wit and charismatic characters, Ticktock was full of surprises.
As you can tell from the synopsis, Tommy Phan is on the run from a devil doll from hell. With no obvious explanation or reason why, he blindly stumbles his way through survival and chastises himself throughout the entire way. He is a successful published mystery writer, damnit! Where are his detective skills when he needs them? But characters we fabricate in our minds are never there for us (the bastards), so Tommy is left with the horrifying realization that is he not Chip Nguyen.
So Tommy jumps in his brand new Corvette, only hours old, and runs for his life.
Through the cosmic humour of fate, Tommy meets Deliverance Payne, aka. Del, who is the reason this book is awesome (oh, and Tommy’s mom traditional Vietnamese mother is also hilarious). With a comedic setting, Tommy and the ever witty and surprising Del evade the satanic creature hunting Tommy throughout LA in the night.
Tommy told Sal about the strange white-cloth figure with black stitches that he had found on the front porch.
“Sounds like Pillsbury Doughboy gone punk,” Sal said.
Honestly, I was completely blind sided by this book. I went in expecting a serious horror but got a comedic thriller. It’s not that it’s bad it’s just.. not what I was expecting. So there’s no lying that I was hoping for more, but after I realized I wasn’t getting a not-sleeping-for-three-weeks kind of horror I was incredibly pleased with this book (did I mention this is my first Koontz book..?).
First, Koontz’s writing is wonderful. Besides his excess use of commas (which took 30% of the book to acclimatize to) his suspense building is amazing while simultaneously balancing dialogue and world building. LA is a very unique creature, after all – us international readers need some information! My favourite part of his writing his the scenes with short one-liners and how he manages to weave them together with overlapping dialogue and the actions of the characters with such fluidity that was so pleasant to read.
Second, the secondary characters are legendary! (…too much?) Both Del and Tommy’s mother are sharp witted and stubborn with volatile personalities that practically explode on impact (hilarity ensues). The contrast between Tommy’s deer-in-the-headlights personality and Chip Nguyen’s hard, independent, bad-ass detective personality enhanced the stark differences between Tommy and Del in the most cosmic ways.
“Everyone thinks his family is strange,” Del said, scratching Scootie behind the ears, “but it’s just that… because we’re closer to the people we love, we tend to see them through a magnifying glass, through a thicker lens of emotion, and we exaggerate their eccentricities.”
So should you give this a shot? Probably. If you like thrillers with ridiculously awesome characters and supernatural entities, then this book should be on your radar. Because after I got over the loss of not reading a horror I was able to appreciate this book for the comedic thriller it is.
Oh, did I mention that there’s a dog? The smartest, most intelligent and sarcastic dog you’d ever meet?
“Tommy and Scootie locked eyes. Only minutes ago, he wouldn’t have believed that he could ever have felt such a kinship with the Labrador as he felt now.”