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October 11, 2019


#AUSReadingMonth Aurealis Award Best Horror Novel 2018

by N@ncy



  1. Once again I am leaving my comfort zone.
  2. Will this book leave me white-kunckled
  3. ….cringing in fear with
  4. …heightened pulse, sweaty palms and a
  5. sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.
  6. I am about to find out!



  1. Imagine the worst criminals in history, not executed for their crimes
  2. but condemned to preservation and imprisonment.
  3. A life sentence, and then some.
  4. Execution or eternal life? Which is worse? Which is better?
  5. Phillipa is a nurses aide in a home
  6. for the elderly (all….dementia patients).
  7. She is leaving for a 1 year internship in The Time Ball Tower.
  8. Phillippa: ” The tower never left me.
  9. I’d dream about it, hallucinate it when I was away.
  10. It calls to the best of us, they say.”


  1. Cover: The Time Ball Tower
  2. Symbolism: Ball dropping every day, keeping time
  3. Setting: small town in Australia, Tempuston (tempus; Latin for time)
  4. Motif: camera.…Phillipa is constantly taking photographs!



Strong point:

  1. Chapter 1:   Phillipa Muskett
  2. This must be the longest first chapter
  3. …I ever read! (reading time: 2 hours!)
  4. But Kaaron Warren is setting the scene


  1. ...leaving a path ‘hooks, moments of tension’
  2. …that overwhelmed this reader.
  3. …I noted  at least 24 moments of reflection by Phillipa
  4. giving the reader a good impression about
  5. her wants (be famous), fears and hopes for the future.


  1. Many characters stop to give her advice before she
  2. leaves for a year in The Time Ball Tower
  3. Burnett (suffers from dementia, was keeper in 1868!)
  4. ….is still patient in elderly home! (time travel?, ghost?)
  5. BFF Renata (grandmother is a witch!)
  6. Phillipa’s Grandmother (Frances Styles, keeper 1938)
  7. Photography teacher
  8. and especially Kate Hoff (keeper 2010)
  9. She gives Philippa the most important advice:.
  10. how to act with the prisoners
  11. because they can
  12. “Smell of a woman…makes them difficult.”
  13. Kate also give Phillipa all the report files
  14. …written by keepers who have served
  15. in The Tower in the past!
  16. I am sitting on the edge of my seat because
  17. …Philippa is about to read them all!
  18. I expect  a lot of ‘shock and awe” in this book!


Weak point:

  1. After an exciting first chapter (18 % of the book)
  2. we read the ‘secret files’ from the Tower keepers.
  3. Quirky, repetitive…but not scary at all! (44 % of the book).
  4. Warren often refers to a personage from history
  5. Hess, Jacob H. Smith, Baron von Sternberg
  6. …and you have to consult Wikipedia to learn more about
  7. some unfamiliar names.
  8. Every file ends in a report that is identical for all keepers
  9. with an exception for Frances Styles, an a few mention that
  10. the prisoner does not need a bath.
  11. This just felt gimmicky.
  12. It does not add to the  horror element of the book.


Strong or weak point?

  1. Palpable sexually oriented glaze over many elements
  2. of the story when Phillippa
  3. …is finally the keeper in The Tower. (62 % of the book)
  4. Does this increase the ‘horror element”
  5. …or is it good for book sales?
  6. You decide.
  7. Personally…I wish Warren was
  8. a more creative  writer
  9. …rather than use the pornographic angle.


Weak point:

  1. There isn’t very much tension in the last section
  2. Phillipa as keeper.
  3. Prisoners babble on and on…nothing we haven’t
  4. heard before in the book.
  5. I try to keep engaged by noting how Phillipa
  6. is changing from the first day as keep….until her last.
  7. That is the only real interesting part at this point
  8. Where’s the horror? 
  9. I’m not seeing it!
  10. I expected much more from a
  11. an Aurealis Awards prize 
  12. …Best Horror book of 2018!


Weak point:

  1. Well, I did not find the shock and awe
  2. …I expected in this book
  3. Warren gives the reader and ‘information dump’ in chapter 1
  4. ….and now you have to try to connect that information with
  5. the individual keepers who have written reports.
  6. This involved flipping back and forth to chapter one.
  7. This is one way to structure a book
  8. …but I found it ruined the flow of the narrative.
  9. It became irritating.


Last Thoughts;

  1. Honestly, I enjoyed Warren’s book (2017)
  2. The Grief Hole  much more than this book!
  3. 44% of the book was ‘filling” – keeper’s files.
  4. Plot twists with a bit of tension started
  5. on page 346…..91% of the book!
  6. I was expecting lightning in a bottle
  7. …and only I got static electricity on the rug!
  8. #Disappointment


Kaaron Warren

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nov 4 2019

    I was never going to read this book, but I enjoyed your review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nov 5 2019

      I never read horror or speculative fiction but just try 1 x per year with Australian Aurealis Awards. I just want to see if I agree with their choice of winners!


      • Nov 5 2019

        Good. I’m glad you do so I don’t have to!
        (Because very occasionally, they do choose something I like).

        Liked by 1 person

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Sign-Up #RIPXIV Challenge | NancyElin
  2. Speculative Fiction Round-up: October 2019 | Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog

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