Over the holidays, I had a chance to sit back with a few solid novels, which also happened to be written by colleagues for whom I have a lot of respect. Thankfully, I liked both books! It makes it a lot easier to not have to skirt around titles, or outright ignore them, when the books in question deliver the goods.
In the case of Richard Chizmar and Billy Chizmar’s Widow’s Point, you’ve got what I regard in my head as a unique approach to the found footage horror story. Supernatural writer Thomas Livingston spending a weekend in the supposedly haunted and absolutely creepy Widow’s Point Lighthouse in Harper’s Cove, Nova Scotia. The lighthouse has been the sight of many ghastly happenings, and Livingston is hoping to either debunk the stories or encounter the horrors for himself and get them on on camera. When his camera breaks down almost immediately, we’re left reading transcripts of his own voice recordings that detail Widow’s Point’s history and experiences.
The father and son duo manage to bring found footage to the page very nicely, and like Richard’s collaboration with Stephen King on last year’s Gwendy’s Button Box, you don’t know where one author starts and the other begins. Most importantly, there’s a consistent feeling of dread that permeates the entirety of the novel. I was legitametly on edge while reading, which is exactly what you want from a good story. Glenn Chadbourne’s illustrations help to serve up the haunting vibe of the novel, but it’s the Chizmar’s ultimate ability to not waste a word that makes Widow’s Point a success.
In the absolutely interest of transparency, Richard Chizmar wrote my favourite book of 2015, his short story collection, A Long December, which I reviewed for Rue Morgue Magazine at the time of its release. Rich’s publishing house Cemetery Dance is putting out my book on Stephen King’s The Stand this year. Here’s the important part – if I didn’t enjoy Widow’s Point, I wouldn’t write about it. I wouldn’t go out of my way to slam it either. I just wouldn’t say anything. Like I said, I’m glad I dug it.
The same goes for Michael Moreci’s Black Star Renegades (BSR), which was released this past January 2nd (happy birthday to me). I’ve known Michael for years now, starting with his outstanding conspiracy theory comic book Hoax Hunters, on through his sci-fi epic Roche Limit, and now his debut novel, the first in a series that’s impressive in its ambition.
I’ve admired Michael for his talent and tenacity, and I’m not surprised that BSR is a solid, science fiction adventure. Michael is a massive Star Wars fan, and he wears that influence on his sleeve, while still managing to create a whole new galaxy for readers to explore. In Black Star Renegades, you’ve got epic space battles, a galaxy protecting group (in this case, The Rai), mystical weapons, robots and prophecies. I’m absolutely thankful that a glossary of names, places and things is included in the back of the book, mind you, because Michael’s working with a grand vision and it helps to be able to keep of track of things.
Like the best writers, Michael’s taken the lessons of his favourite inspirations and managed to make them his own. There’s a joy to his prose that makes Black Star Renegades an easy and fun read, especially for those that dream of worlds and galaxies far, far away.
Widow’s Point from Richard Chizmar and Billy Chizmar is out in February.
Black Star Renegades from Michael Moreci is available now.