Mx3 Review: Black Light by Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan, & Stephen Romano

October 11, 2011 Horror, Mulholland Books, Murders, Monsters, & Mayhem, Paranormal Fiction, Review 1


  • Hardcover:336 pages
  • Publisher:Mulholland Books (October 5, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0316196711
  • Source: Publisher

Buck’s parents were killed horrifically when he was young. He was left for dead, discovered at the brink of death.  Since their death, Buck now has a unique gift: he can literally swallow evil spirits, regirgitating them into sacred urns, forever preventing their release.  He is now the exorcist of last resort: individuals call on him to get rid of spirits that traditional means won’t remove.  When he captures a spirit, he’s taken into the Black Light:

The place  where all the souls that ever lived and loved and fought and died had gone to rest, but they weren’t really at rest.  A place filled with echoes of terrible things.  Remains and artifacts. 

The Black Light is where he continues to go, decades after his parents’ death, hoping to find them.

Buck’s most recent case is an unusual one: he’s been asked to participate in the testing of a high-speed train that crosses the desert between California and Nevada.  During one of the test runs of the train, a horrific accident took place.  The only survivor of this accident was an employee, originally quite sane, who upon surviving the tragic accident, completely lost his mind.

He emerged from the wreck a broken mess, babbling about men and women he’d seen murdered. He claimed the murders were visions given to him by God in the moment of his death, and that he’d been returned to earth to warn us all.

When Buck learns the route of the train, he knows he must agree to the job proposed to him. The train’s path takes it directly through one of the worst recored spots for paranormal activity in the country, the Blacklight Triangle.  Accompanying him on the ride are a host of celebrities, including a man in the running for the Presidency.  Buck knows accepting this job is quite possibly a suicide mission. Mediums who have visited this area have died; Buck came close to dying himself in this exact location. 

As the train’s journey begins, Buck is forced to re-evaluate everything he has come to believe about his identity, the death of his parents, and those that he trusts. Everything comes into question as the train goes speeding through the desert at four-hundred miles an hour, heading through one of most dangerous locations in the country.

Black Light is quite the unique novel. A debut novel by writers from the Saw franchise, I was prepared to be overwhelmed with gore. Not so much.  Think of this novel as Ghostbusters meets Die Hard.  The action is quite intense and while there are a few bloody scenes, they aren’t nearly as prolific as I thought they would be.  That said, Black Light probably isn’t a novel for the weak of heart (or stomach) but I can see it being of interest to several types of readers, including fans of horror and action novels.

My only complaint would be the lack of development of the characters.  While this novel is scheduled to be the start of a series, I feel Buck’s character should be a bit more dynamic, enriched in more detail.  First novels often serve as background information for the main characters.  While we do learn a bit about Buck’s past & his parents’ unfortunate demise, we don’t learn that much about Buck himself.  Buck is meant to be a hero we should root for, but I found myself feeling sort of “meh” about him and his plight as a whole. I’m hoping his character is expanded more in future books; I really do think this is a unique and compelling storyline and wouldn’t hesitate to pick up the next book.

At the end, this unique storyline/concept really did win me over. I have faith the authors will develop Buck’s character in future novels. Recommended.



One Response to “Mx3 Review: Black Light by Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan, & Stephen Romano”

  1. J.P. Hansen

    Developing characters when writing a series is tricky. The author can see the development from book to book. But the readers cannot unless they start from the beginning, which is unusual. The challenge for writers is to make every book in a series self-sustaining while at the same time a definite part of a serial trajectory.