Title: The Darklights | Author: Michaelbrent Collings | Pub. Date: 06/05/2017 | Pages: 333 | ASIN: B072MGD1NC | Genre: Sci-Fi Horror | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Received from the author for review consideration
I am a FixIt.
When the Company has a problem – a factory gone under, books that need auditing, or a rebellious planet to be destroyed – I’m there, and I take care of it. I’m the most successful FixIt in Company history, and I have NEVER failed to punch a ticket.
TF-653 is different. The staff and crew of a terraforming installation on a planet so strange it cannot be described have disappeared. It’s my job to go there, to find the problem, and to stop it. Or kill it.
But some things can’t be killed. Because some things are already dead.
And some things… are even worse. Because some things can only be seen in THE DARKLIGHTS.
I was warned beforehand that The Darklights was unlike the other book I had read by Michaelbrent Collings (The Longest Con). I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect and I have to admit that the cover really didn’t draw me in very much. But you know the old saying about books and covers so I settled in to see what Mr. Collings had to offer.
It started out like your basic sci-fi story with a touch of creepiness. It took an unexpected turn that surprised me and made me pay a bit more attention. Then we were introduced to Mr. Fix-It (he has a real name but my mind kept calling him Mr. Fix-It) and it got more interesting. Much more interesting. In fact, the pace picked up very quickly and kept it up until the very end. I can honestly say that it does not slow down at all. There were no chapters that I was tempted to skim through.
For being a Fix-It Company Man, the main character was very likable. I was interested in Gerrold, felt for him, and actively rooted for him. The story takes quite a few twists and turns but never loses the reader. It had just enough sci-fi to make me really believe the world they live in and not so much where my eyes were glazing over with overly described machinery and how it all works. Quite honestly, I’m not really sure if it totally counts as science fiction because The Darklights has it’s feet firmly planted in the horror terrain.
Some people might be put off by the constant time shifting. I enjoyed it a lot which is saying something because I don’t usually care for it. However, in The Darklights it is handled very smoothly and does not jar at all. That’s usually why I don’t care for that particular storytelling method. It’s usually handled in a jolting way (whether on purpose or not) and it’s easy to get lost in which is past, present or whatever. That is not the case here at all.
The Longest Con has been the only other book that I’ve read by Michaelbrent Collings but I’m going to have to rectify that. I enjoyed The Darklights much more than I really expected to. I don’t know how graphic his other books are, or how scary but The Darklights hit all the right notes for me. It’s not in-your-face gory but it sustains a chill level far beyond some books that spew enough blood to paint a barn with.
The Darklights, in it’s creepiness and quickened pace, put me in mind of the movie Event Horizon and the video game Dead Space. Don’t get me wrong, though. It’s not a copy of them. Just in the same insane family.
GracieKat was the first co-host of Sci-Fi & Scary, Lilyn’s partner-in-crime, and sub-head of the Coolthulhu Crew. She reviews horror books, movies, and games for the site. She also does a weekly Focus on the Frightful feature, and is the site list-maker. She is also in control of the Sci-Fi & Scary podcast which will relaunch soon.
Gracie is also a member of the Ladies of Horror Fiction crew.