When Ray Simon receives a desperate call from his childhood friend Kevin, begging him to come visit, Ray can’t say no. Kevin promises to clue him in on shocking discoveries he has made about weird, half-forgotten events in their past—events associated with a summer camp near Kevin’s home in the small town of Blackwater, West Virginia.
But when Ray arrives, Kevin is nowhere to be found. So Ray does some investigating of his own, only to find that no records exist of the camp. Yet he is not alone in looking for information. There are Lily, a beautiful redhead with uncanny seductive powers; Crawford, a wealthy collector of art and people; and Micah, the mysterious leader of the Church of the Open Door. All of them are seeking information about the rumored camp. And they are all interested—very interested—in Ray.
Then a midnight encounter with strange floating lights sparks a return of old memories—vivid but fractured images that haunt Ray’s waking hours with intimations of terror and cruelty. Something dreadful happened at that camp long ago. Something was awakened there. Now, with the help of his new friend Ellen, a waitress at the local diner, Ray must navigate a path through madness and murder—a path that leads inexorably to an all-but-forgotten night in his childhood . . . and to a future of unimaginable horror.
“Disturbing, surreal, and spooky as hell, Blackwater Lights is a brilliantly written debut, marking Michael M. Hughes as a talent to watch.”
—Tim Lebbon, author of Coldbrook and the Toxic City trilogy
“Blackwater Lights is a paranoid thrill-ride that deftly combines mystery, sci-fi, and horror elements into a modern-day conspiracy tale. An impressive debut that builds to a satisfying, action-filled conclusion.”
—Cemetery Dance magazine
“Blackwater Lights has action, adventure, sex, love, designer drugs, and violent death, all woven into a globe-spanning paranormal conspiracy. I mean, really, what’s not to like? Consider this my official request for a sequel.”
—F. Paul Wilson, author of the Repairman Jack novels and The Adversary Cycle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
First of all, this book is not going to be loved by all and I get that. I think you have to have a certain type of personality to really enjoy this book. If you like dark humour, are okay with things being just a bit twisted and some kinkiness doesn’t offend your senses too much, then you will likely enjoy this book. I certainly did.
So, right away–here is what I initially loved:
Ray is a great MC. He comes across as relatively innocent, he is a school teacher and isn’t setting out to look for trouble, rather just to seek answers to some events that happened to him long ago that he has not made peace with. His mysterious back story intrigued me and made me want to find out more.
As the story progressed, I began to get more interested in why the citizens of the town were acting so strange and who might or might not be involved with the cover-up of activity that was going on.
There are some very graphic scenes in this book, but they were handled well in my opinion and I thought it was all integral to the plot, so for me it wasn’t a problem. The main character has a certain charm about him that makes you want to support him. His attitude is good and gets him out of some tight situations.
I liked that the source of the lights stayed a mystery until nearly the end of the book and thought the ending was pretty action-packed and fantastic. I love it when you reach the end of a book and feel like all the build up to the final events was worth it.
Overall, this was a fun read with a lot going on and one that I would recommend to other horror genre lovers. I enjoyed that it was not the same thing that I have seen a hundred times before. Credit for great characters and originality. Michael M. Hughes is certainly an author to keep an eye on. I look forward to seeing where he goes next.
This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher and provided through Netgalley.