Since I enjoyed my first foray into Random House’s Hydra imprint when I read “Apocalyptic Organ Grinder,” I was quick to read another of the ebooks released by the imprints and dug into “Blackwater Lights” by Michael M. Hughes.
Ray Simon got a call one night that would change his life forever. His childhood friend, Kevin, called him with a plea for Ray to come visit him and a promise that he would be able to explain some events that had happened when the two were children. An almost unremembered summer spent at camp together had cast a shadow over the men’s lives that they could understand. Kevin claimed to know the secrets of that lost summer that he can only share with Ray in person.
Ray arrives at Kevin’s house to find his friend absent and begins to investigate the past by himself. As Kevin starts to look into the mystery of the Blackwater lights, he is surprised to find that the issue may be much deeper than just an incident that happened to a couple kids. For a small town, there seems to be a lot of strange elements that one would not expect to find like an eccentric millionaire and a strange church that may be the home of a cult. Ray finds help with some of the people in town and even begins to fall in love with a local waitress before the extent what he was searching for is revealed. Ray was expecting to find a simple explanation for that strange summer and instead finds himself caught in a conspiracy that involves the government and religion and has raged for centuries. Now he is caught in a struggle for his life as well as the lives of those he cares about.
With a mixture of science fiction and horror, “Blackwater Lights” is an entertaining novel that reads more like a thriller than a horror novel. While there are definite elements of horror in the book, the action is more relentless than I expected and the novel was an easy and quick read similar to the works of Dean Koontz. Hughes brings a sense of timing and adventure to the novel that is missing in many works of horror that kept me riveted to the pages as they flew by. He manages to capture a sense of wonder and adventure in the novel that I was surprised to find in a work by an author that I had never heard of before.
If there is a criticism to be had with the novel, it is that there are too many threads to be drawn together into a tightly knit story. Hughes can be forgiven for this, however, since the action of the story compels the reader to quickly more past some of these loose ends without dwelling on them. “Blackwater Lights” is not a great work of literature or even a great horror novel and that is fine with me. It is a fun and entertaining read that provides and interesting diversion from everyday life. That is enough to get my recommendation and I hope to read more from the author in the future.
I would like to thank NetGalley and Random House Hydra for this review copy. “Blackwater Lights” is available now.