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Black Light

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  592 ratings  ·  67 reviews
The privileged daughter of famous television actors, Charlotte, "Lit, " Moylan is ready to enjoy one last wild fling before college and adulthood. In fact, the whole idyllic hamlet of Kamensic, New York, is ready to party, for legendary avant-garde film director--and Lit's godfather--Alex Kern is coming back to reopen his fabulous mansion, Bolerium. But it won't be just ...more
Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published October 30th 2012 by Open Road Media (first published 1999)
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Average rating 3.55  · 
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 ·  592 ratings  ·  67 reviews

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Apr 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elizabeth Hand! Elizabeth Haaaaaaaand! Her books are like food for the dark, gooey parts of my brain. So histrionic and full of dirt and bad behavior. Cruel gods and a wholly incomprehensible love of 1970s fashion. Hyperbolic, stylish, mean.

Recommended for insomniacs trying to make up for lack of sleep by drinking too much coffee. It's the same kind of unbalanced, vibrating buzz.
Jul 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
This is a follow-up to Hand's amazing & wonderful Waking the Moon. The themes are similar & Balthazar Warnick makes an appearance which is nice for those of us fond of the other book & this character.

I guess this is categorized as horror, although I've never really been able to decide what category Hand is in. She's in her own category with slightly psychedelic & overtly lush writing & odd twisty plots that meander through myth & modernity.

Just as in Waking the Moon, the
Carla Remy
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the beginning of this a lot. I would probably have continued to love it but for the supernatural horror element. Also it was slow and boring. Why does everything, newer books, have to be so long? Also, I am a big fan of horror movies, I'd probably have liked this if it was a movie. I don't know why, but I don't really care for the supernatural in fiction.
(4 days later):
While my feelings about this book are here, I did mean to praise Black Light for the terrific fictional titles, you
May 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is the prequel to the lovely Waking the Moon with similar themes and much the same vibe. Most of what I said about that one applies here as well: "Part fantasy, part gothic horror, part mythology, part twisted love story. It's dark, lush, sensual, and quite creepy in places."

However, while I found it more empowering than the previous book (woo hoo! the main female can DO something! On her own!), it wasn't nearly as heartbreaking. There's no "I'll love you next time, I promise", no grand
This book is a prequel to Waking the Moon written 3 years later. Although it is labelled Horror, it's more of a combination of mystery, gothic and contemporary fantasy. It is suspenseful rather than scary. Reading it, I couldn't help but wonder why I waited 6 years in between reading Waking the Moon and this book! Elizabeth Hand is such a great author and I am certainly not waiting so long to read more of her books!
Started out so promising - a secret cult, an underground director a la Andy Warhol and the factory - a massive party with a sinister purpose that could bring about an end to the world as we know it - and yet this didn't really pop as much as fizzle like a bad batch of microwave popcorn for me.

The last two thirds of the book just meandered annoyingly around a protagonist that was neither interesting nor engaging and I felt that the overarching storyline of Gods and Demons got a bit too
May 05, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It started out strongly, but about 2/3 the way in, I just lost interest in the characters and their storylines. I have little patience for beautiful, rich teenagers who are the chosen ones.
Closer to 4 stars, but not quite because I got kind of bored in the middle, and the pace was off at the end.

When I started Black Light it felt like just what I wanted to read. It was a Sunday morning. I'd slept in too long. I felt vaguely headachey. To fall into a decadent party thrown by an Andy Warhol-like film director figure (except more violent and Artaud-ish) was so deliciously right. Seen through the eyes of his goddaughter, Axel Kern's living/work space called "The Nursery" (b/c so many
Mark Altosaar
I received this book a couple years ago from a Humble Bundle of sci-fi written by women. I felt I'd fallen off the genre hard, and wanted some new out-of-context stuff I had no familiarity with.

I struggled with this book. I had a lot of trouble keeping up with what was going on, and frankly I think the author is just a lot more imaginative than I am. She could offer detailed flowery descriptions ... that just fell flat for me.

Roughly half-way through I consulted other reviews to reset myself and
Jun 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Book 2 in the series ... Anything Elizabeth Hand writes for adults will get you thinking, will twist you around. Perhaps make you think about things in a different angle.

my, why didn't' I discover Elizabeth Hand earlier? Here is a mystery and a protagonist (antagonist) that is so different from anything you have encountered before, magically, described with the eye of the artist. ... And there are 2 more books in this series too bad my library does not have the latest one....
Ms. Hand is that
DNF at 15%. Reads like 50% boring ramble and 50% drug trip. It drags, it's boring, and the characters are uninteresting. I have a vague idea of where the story will eventually go, but I just don't care enough to stick around for it.
May 09, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Trippy sixties occult novel. Unfortunately, main character spends huge amounts of it drunk or stoned and so it comes across rather like when your coworker wants to tell you a long and rambling story that makes no sense about a dream he had or that time she was soooooo drunk.
Lisa Grabenstetter
I really don't know how I feel about this. I started out REALLY liking it, but it hopped the rails at some point and though I liked the ending I'm not entirely sure it absolved the book of some of the more uncomfortable parts. I'll have to sleep on it I think.
May 23, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandon-all-hope
This book is a thesaurus-fueled drug hallucination.
I wanted to like this so much more than I did. The premise was excellent: two groups of magicians with very different approaches to magic and history vying for control of ... something, the world maybe?

It was delightfully atmospheric. Every time you turn around there were autumn leaves, poppy seeds, acorns, and ivy twining all over everything. The rich, somewhat scary, organic autumn of it reminded me a bit of Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury or Tam Lin by Pamela Dean. But both
Dan Trefethen
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elizabeth Hand is a master stylist. She often writes about contemporary people caught in a mysterious situation involving supernatural forces or ancient gods or rituals that are difficult for the characters to understand. They are often drawn into scenarios that are expertly foreshadowed to the reader, but which the characters themselves can't comprehend.

This delivers a delicious foreboding to the reader. It's not really horror, but I would use an older description of 'suspense', a la Hitchcock.
Bryan Wigmore
Sep 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book of two linked parts. The first is about sixteen-year-old Charlotte's life growing up in a seventies small town in upstate New York, a particular town peopled by actors and hippies and ruled over by a mysterious mansion owned by a slightly Warhol-like film director. I really liked this part. Charlotte (or "Lit") is an engaging and realistic character, and though you wouldn't necessarily want to live near these people, they're interesting to read about, and there's an interesting ...more
A strange and surrealistic book about growing up in a small town, ancient magic, and punk rock. A teenage girl (Charlotte "Lit" Moylan) growing up in the 1970s in the fictional town of Kamensic, New York, gradually discovers that her godfather, the reclusive filmmaker and impresario Axel Kern (a stand-in for Andy Warhol) is at the center of a magical conspiracy that has lasted for millennia. She becomes part of a fight between two opposing groups of magicians, seeking to halt (or hasten) the ...more
May 18, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like Elizabeth Hand's work in general. I think she does an excellent job of capturing a time and place that exists both inside and outside of pop culture at the same time. This one had everything I was expecting -- an art/movie/music scene set in the 60s/70s, a heavy influence of God/Goddess cults, lush and sometimes psychedelic writing -- but I didn't LOVE it. It drug on through a number of scenes, particularly the info-dumps that happened in the portal scenes. I also can't decide if I've ...more
Alexandra K
May 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Elizabeth Hand writes SFF with folkloric/mystical elements and beautiful prose. This is extremely my jam and I've really enjoyed some of her previous work. HOWEVER, Black Light fell short for me, and I'm not sure why. All the elements I love are still there - Hand's prose is lush yet tense, and Teenage Me would have *loved* all the folklore references - but the second half of the book seemed to take *forever* and I had to force myself to get through it.

Still, I definitely recommended if you
Darlene Williams
Sep 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a Different Kind of Horror Story

The flow of the novel, the language and story line are all well above the norm. I happen to love the ‘70’s and enjoyed the setting very much. I was raised in the Hudson River Valley and could vividly picture the scenes. The castle reminded me of Dick’s Castle, just outside of Coldspring, NY. I’m looking forward to reading more of Hand’s novels.
Micah Horton hallett
I just really love Elizabeth Hands writing, it satisfies my Gothy little heart. I do not give to flying fornication that I often know what the last page will say on the first. I came to this book off the back of four science fiction novels that were all at least competently written, but within half a paragraph of Black Light I sighed happily to myself as I sunk into a prose as pretty and comfortable as a spa bath overlooking a mountain meadow.
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I just ended up not caring about the characters at all. The most interesting part was when the occult stuff was finally explained-the cult of Dionysus, etc. Before that and even after it was a meandering drug trip of a book. I did like how eerie the town seemed the more Lit learned about who she was.
Nancy Hill
The first book I ever found that captures the essence of being a Late Boomer, a member of the last half of the so-called Baby Boom. Reality seems negotiable, punk is Queen, or gender-bending King, drugs are anything but novel, art, religion, and sacrilege have melded. A late teen coming of age novel unlike anything-else you will ever read.
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ebook, women-writers
The book begins creepily enough, but then it goes down a well-trodden path in the overall plot and themes. Besides, the whole holywood/drug scene is just... meh. The decadence of it all being too well-written may have worked against the book. Oh, and Balthazar. It turns out there's a previous book in this universe and I guess that explains why his scenes feel tackled on in this one.
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little to groovy for me with all the hippies tripping and having visions and slipping to an alternate reality, but still a good read. Weird and wonderful the way Waking the Moon was, but not quite as elaborate. I can't imagine Elizabeth Hand writing anything that isn't somehow interesting and entertaining.
Rebecca Rogers
I didn't really care for it. it was kind of boring and took way too long to get into the meat of the story. too much history and back story and just a repitition of events over and over again. got it the first two times, thanks! it was an okay story. not scary. maybe in the 70's it was. it took forever to get through it because I was very bored with it.
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A blurb drew a comparison between Kamensic, NY (the town that is one of the characters of the book) and Stephen King's Castle Rock, ME. Not an apt comparison. This story is much more Shirley Jackson, or Rosemary's Baby, or Mark Chadbourn's Age of Misrule. Seriously creepy throughout the book.
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was on of those rare books for me - beautifully written and yet I had no clue what was going on almost the whole book. It was dark and strange. I felt compelled to finish but it didn't hit quite the right note for me.
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ancient myths, the apocalypse, decadence, horror, psychology, and poetry. You know, all of the things that make you love Elizabeth Hand, if you love Elizabeth Hand. Recommended musical pairing: Murder by Death.
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A New York Times notable and multiple award– winning author, Elizabeth Hand has written seven novels, including the cult classic Waking the Moon, and short-story collections. She is a longtime contributor to numerous publications, including the Washington Post Book World and the Village Voice Literary Supplement. She and her two children divide their time between the coast of Maine and North ...more
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