Black Light Synopsis :
Ruth Black is an English novelist left widowed by the mysterious death of her husband during the Great War. She immigrates to Australia and settles in the sleepy coastal town of Pelican River to repair her broken heart and work on her next novel.
But her quiet life is thrown into disarray when Aunt Julia arrives with an urgent, dreadful message. Ruth’s life is in danger and the threat is from a source not entirely of this world. With the assistance of her butler Rutherford, and her good friend the inventor Gordon Duncombe, Ruth finds herself caught up in a hair-raising race to defy her impending doom. (Fremantle Press)
It is quite unusual to find a novel featuring gothic or supernatural elements set in the relatively young settlement of 1920s Australia. That, along with the protagonist being an author, are what attracted me to K A Bedford’s Black Light.
While I’ll avoid spoilers, I will say the supernatural elements were a much more integral feature of the plot than I had anticipated. No simple ghostly apparitions for this author – Bedford asks his audience to suspend their rational beliefs and dive feet first into the unknown quite early in the piece. It is due to the strength and endearing nature of his main characters that I found myself able to make that transition and follow them in their search for answers.
In Black Light Bedford has created a memorable narrator in Ruth. Her forthright and spirited behaviour as a woman of independent means at a time when that was almost unheard of, held great appeal for me. The banter between Ruth and the lovable but hapless inventor Gordon along with the antics of the irrepressible Julia proved very entertaining and served as a welcome counterpoint to the darker elements at play.
On the whole I found myself engaged and intrigued by the mystery, but the spell was broken for me a few times when I stumbled on inconsistencies and unnecessary character rumination not caught in the final edit.
While Black Light will not be everyone’s cup of tea (a reference to the beverage consumed in large quantities within the novel), I admired the gusto with which Bedford has imaginatively explored the often perfunctory references made in literature to an after life.
BOOK RATING: The Story 3 / 5 ; The Writing 3 / 5
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Genre: Sci-Fi-Fantasy, Mystery, Crime, Historical, Thriller
This review counts towards my participation in the Aussie Author Challenge 2015.
K.A. Bedford is the author of Orbital Burn, Eclipse,Hydrogen Steel, Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait and Paradox Resolution. He has twice won the Aurealis Award for Best Australian Science Fiction Novel, been shortlisted for the Philip K. Dick Award, and in 2013 his novel Paradox Resolution was joint winner of the Tin Duck Award for Best Western Australian Professional Long Written Work.
K.A. Bedford has been writing since he was a little kid, but started writing seriously when he was 14. His first novel, which was his first professional sale, was published in 2003, when he was 40. The lesson here, he says, is ‘stick with it’. K.A. Bedford attended Curtin and Murdoch universities, where he studied writing, theatre and philosophy.
* Receiving this title free from Fremantle Press did not impact my ability to express my honest opinions in the review above.