“13:24 is a fantastic read.”

Games Fiends

Fiction though it may be, author M. Dolon Hickmon has absolutely captured the terror, the betrayal, the humiliation even of being abused by the very people a child should be able to intrinsically trust.”

“Love, hope, betrayal, murder – 13:24 has all the standard components of a great murder mystery, pulling you into several concurrent story lines as you puzzle out how all of the pieces will fit together in the end. And it does that oh, so well. But, as with all good books, 13:24 has a twist – and it’s that twist that truly pushes it over the edge into a fantastic read.

Josh is a heavy metal superstar. As the front man to popular band Rehoboam, he inspires adulation from scores of young fans for his intense and often deeply emotional lyrics. Fame and fortune aside, Josh is a deeply troubled young man, haunted by memories of a past that couldn’t be any more different from the life he lives now.

Chris…well, Chris is a serial killer, in the technical sense of the word. As the book begins, the young teenagers sets off on a killing spree that is chilling in its intensity. Chris is a motivated young man, and he is leaving a swath of death in his wake. Why? The media blames Rehoboam – it’s all that devil’s music the kid was listening to, spurring him to unforgivable actions….”

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“like a really good episode of Criminal Minds”

Crash My Book Party

[W]hile these particular events are fiction, the abuse suffered by some children at the hands of their parents and encouraged by the church is real.”

13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession is not for the faint of heart. It is gritty, presenting images to the reader that they will never want to see for themselves. It points fingers unashamedly. And reading it, you feel like it speaks a truth that has been covered up for some time, despite the fact that this particular story is fiction.

Chris is fourteen years old. He has just murdered his mother and her fiance. He’s on the run, but he’s not finished yet. He has a goal in mind. What seems like a tragic murder possibly caused by Chris’ obsession with the dark heavy metal band Rehoboam (coincidentally shares the name with the publisher?) soon turns into something much more sinister, involving the band’s frontman Josh, who is dealing with the ghosts of his fundamentalist upbringing.

This book involves a lot of heavy content and devastating, descriptive scenes that may be too much for some readers. But, as the author states in the ‘Note on Accuracy and Inspirations’ found in the front of the book, while these particular events are fiction, the abuse suffered by some children at the hands of their parents and encouraged by the church is real.

In my mind the book as a whole came across to me like a really good episode of Criminal Minds (which I adore) with the cases being more complex than just right-and-wrong and with the same ‘can’t-look-away’ feeling, which translated to ‘can’t-put-it-down’.”

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“will stay with me forever”

Traveling Through Worlds

“The author has achieved what eludes so many other authors. He has written a compelling and gripping crime drama that also makes the reader think.

It starts out with a murder and naturally you assume that you would feel connected and sympathetic towards the victim. However this is not the case you soon realize that the real victim is the 15 year old murderer.

What I found so scary and disturbing about this book is that the events in it could easily be taking place in the “real” world. It makes you really think about religious freedoms and whether they should be allowed or whether they should be policed. It is an extremely complicated topic and one that has many compelling arguments.

In my personal opinion, I think the author has done a terrific job in showing his views on the topics and showing how dangerous it can be to put religious rights above the rights of an individual and especially above the rights of a child….”

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“It’s a sad book, but gripping”

The Reading Room (TeggyB)

“Chris, an abused boy at the centre reminded me of the title character of “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”

It all felt a little far-fetched so I turned to google. Turns out there ARE “christian” books out there that instruct parents to smack with a implement (because the hand is a tool of love), and to only let a child cry for a few minutes (any more is just complaining, rectify this by threatening some more of what got them crying). SERIOUSLY. Is this an American thing? Are these those same people you see on television holding those signs that say “GOD HATES …..(insert anything secular)

It’s a sad book, but gripping. Chris, an abused boy at the centre reminded me of the title character of “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo“… He’s going around doing bad things but you have that moral dilemma where his behaviour may be justified because of what he’s been through”.

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“two words that can strike one of the biggest debates in the land”

Bless Their Hearts Mom

“It is a worthwhile read, and I urge anyone whose church still adheres to severe corporal punishment to read the book.

Corporal punishment. Two words that can strike one of the biggest debates in the land. Most of us were spanked as kids, and we turned out relatively OK, because our parents didn’t ‘beat us’ in the modern terminology. To us corporal punishment is not an ‘evil thing’, as it is presented in modern media. But there are always two sides of the coin. My parents, and my friends’ parents, tempered the punishment to a basic hand spanking. There was no whipping with belts or rods. And we knew we had done wrong and for the most part, did NOT repeat what got us spanked in the first place….

[But] there are always people who will go too far and seek a justification for the wrong that they are doing, and try to couch it in acceptable rhetoric and thoughts. Wrong? Definitely. And that is where this book delves–in corporal punishment for the WRONG reasons, and in the WRONG way. Does it go on across this country? Yes. And do we hear about it? Yes. Many churches have changed and stopped supporting such false teachings, as presented in this book. Which is why there IS a place for this book, and why it is needed to reach out to THOSE kids who need to know, that what they are experiencing is NOT what was intended, and that they are not alone. They are the kids the system was set up to help and protect….

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Novel Puts Into Words My Break With Childhood Faith

ExChristian.net

13:24 exposes much of what it means to grow up in an abusive fundamentalist cult”

I recently finished 13:24, the powerful new spiritual thriller from author M. Dolon Hickmon. Although it is a work of fiction, this story about the impacts of religiously motivated child abuse hit close to home and spoke volumes to me.

In 13:24, murder and scandal erupt during a controversial rock band’s weekend visit to a small town. When police link the band’s lead singer, Josh, to a homicidal teenaged fan, the resulting drama causes Josh to have flashbacks of his own abusive childhood. In a series of potently emotional scenes, Josh relives his early years with his minister father, who has a lot in common with real life fundamentalists like James Dobson and Michael Pearl.

In places, it felt like Josh was explaining my childhood, with better words than I would have come up with. For instance, after a suicide attempt, Josh tells a friend who has come to visit him at the hospital: “I don’t have a clue what I am passionate about, because my father stripped away every shred of independence. It was never enough to follow orders. He had to pry me open, to make sure I didn’t have any feelings or motivations that he hadn’t given me permission to have.”

Josh’s struggle for identity was especially affecting to me, because after years of physical, verbal, and emotional abuse, this past December I finally broke free from my family….

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“an abused and troubled teenager who finally reaches his breaking point”

John’s Notes: A Review of “13:24″

“The story was very engaging and I recommend this book.”

“13:24 was published in 2014 and is the first book by author M. Dolon Hickmon. This book is available on Amazon.

Chris is an abused and troubled teenager who finally reaches his breaking point. Many attribute his crime spree at first to the dark music he listens to. By chance his favorite band, Rehoboam, is in town for a concert.

William Hursel is the detective that is called in to the resulting crime scene. He sees the result of a teenage boy gone crazy, but believes that there is more to the case. The more he digs, the more he uncovers….

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This Present Darkness: Homeschoolers Anonymous Review of 13:24

This Present Darkness: A Review of M Dolon Hickmon’s “13:24″

“I could not console myself by saying, ‘This is fiction.’ It isn’t, as anyone who has experienced child abuse will recognize.”

“The highest praise I can give M Dolon Hickmon’s debut novel is a trigger warning: While I believe that everyone everywhere needs to read this book, I must urge those with a history of physical or sexual abuse to approach this title with care. I personally had a nervous breakdown after I finished it; I couldn’t breathe because it felt like someone had punched me in the gut. And I could not console myself by saying, “This is fiction.” It isn’t, as anyone who has experienced child abuse will recognize.

Hickmon gives readers an uncommon gift: a brief look behind the curtain of tragedy, a fleeting chance to understand a little more than we did.

In his prologue, the author explains his intentional use of real-life parallels, based on his childhood experiences and research into religiously-motivated child abuse. Also examined are the intersections between child trafficking rings, physical and sexual abuse, and fundamentalist cults. Woven with fictional elements, these create the book’s complex, dark, and brutal narrative.

13:24 is the story of two young men: Josh, a rising rock star, and Chris, the neglected teenaged son of a drug addict. Their stories begin distinct and distant, but as the novel develops, their pasts—and futures—are revealed to be connected in ways that both shock and disturb.

The story opens on a gruesome murder. While the body count rises, questions multiply as a small-town detective chases Chris as a murder suspect. Along the way, readers encounter events and characters with uncanny real-life parallels: Josh has flashbacks of being abused by his minister father, who resembles Michael Pearl and advocates harsh physical punishment; in another thread, a controversial parenting manual is linked to a spate of discipline-related deaths, bringing to mind real-life cases, like those of Hana Williams and Lydia Schatz. Elsewhere, an imprisoned child abuser is freed through the efforts of a “homeschool legal defense fund”, reminiscent of the Home School Legal Defense Association. At the same time, an oily “Christian psychologist” heads a James Dobson-esque media empire, with tendrils in state and national politics.

13:24 may be fiction, but it describes the lives of any number of people I have known. In its imagery, I recognize moments that friends and colleagues have breathed and suffered through. That is what made this novel so hard for me to read.

The book exposes what many religious and homeschooled children experience every day. Readers witness their pain and hear their cries. We see their misery multiplied when it is justified in the name of God; we see their tragedies covered up to save face and preserve religious “freedom”. And unlike a Frank Peretti novel, there are no angels rushing in to the save the day. We must pick up the pieces and fight this present darkness.

Despite the darkness, 13:24 has a poetic beauty. That beauty is in the narrative symmetry: a murder begins it and a murder concludes it. While death marks where the story begins and ends, there is a profound shift in what those deaths mean. This is the power of Hickmon’s prose: he delves deep into pain, into what he has described in his subtitle as “faith and obsession,” and shows us the human faces behind news headlines’ “monsters.”

13:24 is not easy reading. It is neither uplifting nor redemptive. It will crack your heart open, set your blood on fire, and turn your screams into music. Most significantly, the characters’ actions are neither justified nor condemned by the author. He simply allows them to exist. In doing so, Hickmon gives readers an uncommon gift: a brief look behind the curtain of tragedy, a fleeting chance to understand a little more than we did.

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“emotional whiplash”

Ramblings of Sheldon

it was giving me flashbacks, not because of the violence, but because the lines that he used were the exact same lines that were told to me as a child.”

“The book is the brilliant work 13:24 by M. Dolon Hickmon. An investigation into a brutal string of murders in a small town leads to all the town’s dark secrets spilling out. One of the biggest secrets is a minister who openly advocates child abuse from the pulpit, and whose ideology is remarkably similar to real life fundamentalist leaders.

There were scenes were the minister’s son, Josh (who later becomes a lead singer of a death metal band) was having flashbacks to the beatings his father gave him. It was so raw, so vivid, that it was giving me flashbacks, not because of the violence, but because the lines that he used were the exact same lines that were told to me as a child.

There were so many profound statements that really spoke to me through the character Josh. A friend of his asks while he is in a mental hospital due to a suicide attempt and cocaine use. His friend asks them if he wants to bring back an old band that they used to have, he said he wasn’t sure about that, and his friend said he used to be passionate about the music. This was his response:

I don’t have a clue what I am passionate about because my father stripped away every shred of independence. It was never enough to follow orders. He had to pry me open, to make sure I didn’t have any feelings or motivations that he hadn’t given me permission to have.

Then, in a scene during a group therapy session for survivors of religious abuse, he talks about why he can’t believe in Christianity anymore.

“I was raised to believe that  there was a God, who loves and helps people. I believed  that, and I prayed, with the faith of a little child. God was supposed to listen; but year after year my father stood in his church, daring him to intervene. God never did a single thing. He never lifted one finger to help or comfort me”

When a Christian woman in the group become offended by this, implying that she thought he wanted everyone to become atheists, this is what he said:

I’m not saying that. I’m saying that we don’t always get to believe what we want. Somehow we have to reconcile our desire to believe with the reality we have seen.” 

More and more of Josh’s words described so much the way I have felt….

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“no way to describe this other than ‘excellent’”

On Wings of Imagination Review by Geoff

I honestly cannot say enough good about this book.  He writes tight scenes, with no wasted fluff, and no meandering.”

“13:24 refers to Proverbs 13:24, ‘He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes’, which is used as a justification, in error, for beatings as punishment.  This is at the core of Hickmon’s novel – the cycle of abuse, and the results in the lives around the abused….

Honestly, I had to look him up to find this was a first novel.  It reads like someone who has a bunch of books under the belt, not a rookie.  That is impressive.  And tragic, since the bio on Hickmon’s website reveals his own abuse.  It is worth noting that sometimes the adage of ‘write what you know’ can result in exploring dark places.  This is just such a place.  I can’t stress enough that this is not a happy book, and not a happy ending.  When I called it Shakespearean, you would want to think ‘Hamlet’.  Sad, and an example of the scars of abuse.

That said, this is also an amazingly well-crafted novel.  The plot builds smoothly, moving between now and flashback, explaining the roots of both the abuse and the characters, and not bogging down in awkward exposition.  Like that last sentence…Hickmon avoids that stuff….”

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