Audiobook Review: Black Light by Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan and Stephen Romano

12 10 2011

Black Light by Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan and Stephen Romano

Read by Peter Ganim

Hachette Audio

Length: 12 Hrs 50 Min

Genre: Horror

Quick Thoughts: Despite some flaws, Black Light is an exciting, fast paced supernatural adventure that should appeal to a broad spectrum of genre fans.

Grade: B

So, it’s the second full week of October, and I am moving through my selected titles for Murder, Monsters and Mayhem. So far we have had zombies, werewolves and vampires, as well as human monsters like child molesters and spree killers. What I wanted next was a ghost story or more properly a story about ghosts. For me, my love of horror began with ghost stories. I always found something particularly creepy about ghosts. Monsters are one thing, it’s easy for us to think of monsters as fictional characters, but when you are walking through a creaky old house, late at night, with a soft wind blowing it’s not hard to believe in the reality of ghosts. I grew up in a religious family, so I was preconditioned to believe that our spirits went somewhere when we die. It’s not that hard of a stretch to think the essence of those who left us too early, or under horrific circumstances could linger.  I went back and forth on what type of ghost tale I wanted. I already had chosen a haunted house tale to read later this month, so I wanted something different. That is when I discovered Black Light by Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan and Stephen Romero. Black Light is the story of Buck Carlsbad, a medium who literally pulls ghost into himself and then vomits them into a silver vessel to dispose of them. Buck works as a sort of ghostbuster, catching the spirits of evil men that are still tormenting those left behind after their deaths. Buck uses these encounters to get a glimpse into the Black Light, the place where spirits go to rest, in hope of finding information on what exactly killed his parents. Black Light is just the kind of novel I was looking for, a genre blending character driven tale of the supernatural.

From the moment I started the book, I knew that this was going to be one heck of a ride, I just wasn’t sure if that ride would take me to a thrilling conclusion or end in a tragic train wreck. The action in Black Light started early and just kept building pace. A significant portion of the tail takes place on a bullet train from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, and this literary device was the perfect metaphor for the tale itself. The story moved so fast that at times it felt a bit out of control, with so much happening during scenes that I found myself having to regroup a bit, and even occasionally having to backtrack in order to relisten to some parts to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Now while this can be annoying at times, it is also proof that I didn’t want to miss any of the story. The trio of writers kept the story on the rails for the most part, and added a bunch of twists and turns that were well executed. Now, with a character driven first person tale such as this, so much depends on the main character. I was quite intrigued by Buck Carlsbad, including his awesome name. Yet, I think I was more intrigued by the concept of the character, then the actual character himself. I look at series like Butchers’ Dresden Files, or Kadrey’s Sandman Slim and these series work because their main characters just reek with personality. I feel that with this book, so much was happening that we never really had time to truly engage with this character. In fact, I found more humor and personality in the author’s dedications at the end of the novel then the character himself. Yet, despite these flaws, which can be fixed easily in future editions, Black Light is an exciting, fast paced supernatural adventure that should appeal to a broad spectrum of genre fans.

I have to say, I hesitated to take on this audiobook when I found out it was read by Peter Ganim. I have listened to quite a few of his novels, and he is quite a stylistic reader whose style I don‘t always enjoy. Often when reading third person exposition, he has this strange staccato reading style that can come off as robotic to the point of monotony. Yet, I always thought that he was excellent at character voices, and Black Light being a first person narration, I decided to give it a go. I’m glad I did because Ganim knocked this one out of the park. Black Light is a good example of a narrator performing a book, and not just reading it. He handled the breathless pace flawlessly, and exceeded my expectations on voicing the characters of the story. Sure, there were moments, particularly when the action slowed down that his staccato reading was evident, but it would smooth out as the pace quickened. Black Light reads like the perfect October blockbuster, and the audiobook production only helps enhance that feeling, giving you a fun action packed thriller. 


Note: Special thanks to the good people at Hachette Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.




2 responses

12 10 2011
Jenn's Bookshelves

I wholeheartedly agree; great book, unique storyline but the development of the main character was lacking. That won’t stop me from reading the other books in the series, though. There’s a lot of potential!

20 10 2011

There are so many elements that can make or break an audio. I’m glad that you were so into the story itself that you didn’t mind the super fast pace. Great review as always!

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