Widow’s Point Review

 

Written by: Billy Chizmar @BillyChizmar  & Richard Chizmar @RichardChizmar

 

Published by: Cemetery Dance @CemeteryDance

 

“Longtime residents of Harper’s Cove believe that something is wrong with the Widow’s Point Lighthouse. Some say it’s cursed. Others claim it’s haunted.

Originally built in 1838, three workers were killed during the lighthouse’s construction, including one who mysteriously plunged to his death from the catwalk. That tragic accident was never explained, and it was just the beginning of the terror. In the decades that followed, nearly two dozen additional deaths occurred in or around the lighthouse including cold-blooded murder, suicide, unexplained accidents and disappearances, the slaughter of an entire family, and the inexplicable death of a Hollywood starlet who was filming a movie on the grounds.

The lighthouse was finally shuttered tight in 1988 and a security fence was erected around the property. No one has been inside since.

Until tonight.

Thomas Livingston is the acclaimed author of thirteen books about the supernatural and this evening he will enter the Widow’s Point Lighthouse, searching for material for his next bestseller. He will be locked inside for the weekend with no way of contacting the outside world. And although no human has stepped foot inside the structure in nearly three decades, Livingston will not be alone.

In this remarkable collaboration, father and son writing team, Richard and Billy Chizmar, combine forces to tell a chilling ghost story that will make you think twice about what is waiting for you in the dark.”

 

I’ve always loved Lighthouses.

There is just something about them that captivates me.

Maybe it’s the fact that they are almost always placed in locations of extreme natural beauty. Maybe it’s some romantic notion I have in my head about how cool it would be to live somewhere as quirky as an honest to god lighthouse.

Just this past year I was on vacation from my home in Ireland to the area of Nova Scotia that Widow’s Point is set and I visited lots of Lighthouses.

Now I wish I hadn’t.

After reading Widow’s Point I never went to set foot in another Lighthouse as long as I live.

I don’t love them anymore, now I think I’m a little afraid of them…

Widow’s Point is the first story I’ve ever read that is written in a “found footage” format. Think a literary “Blair Witch Project.” It’s for the most part a series of transcribed audio & video recordings that the main character has been making for research for his book. At the start I was a little thrown by this unusual format and thought that there’s no way I could enjoy it as much as I usually enjoy normal prose. I couldn’t have been more wrong. This made Widow’s Point seem more real, as if I was reading something that actually did happen as opposed to a prose story. This found footage angle doesn’t harm the pace one little bit, this book pelts along not really giving you a chance to catch your breath as a reader, making it an all the more claustrophobic affair.

The very first time something spooky happens  – a recording that we read in the transcript, but Thomas Livingston is unaware of making –  I sat bolt upright in bed. I don’t mean metaphorically, I actually sat bolt upright in surprise. I actually felt the hairs on the back of my neck rise. It’s been a long time since a horror story got to me the way that Widow’s Point did.

Something else the found footage tool provides is that right up until the very end it creates a Schrodinger’s Cat of a horror story. The reader is left not knowing if our hero makes it out or not. I’m sure shootin’ not gonna spoil it for you here, but the level of uncertainty caused by this mechanic is just great.

Another tool used to genuinely heartbreaking effect is the use of the diary entries from Delaney Collins – the daughter of a family bludgeoned to death in the lighthouse. We as readers are aware of the very start of Delaney’s fate but the use of the tool of  Thomas Livingston reading out the entries from a diary he finds is genius from the Chizmars. I felt my pulse quicken every every time we came to one of these entries in the story, knowing each one would lead us to her sad fate and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it.

Are there some tropes in there getting wheeled out? Of course there are, after all it’s a haunted house story – the cranky old owner of the Lighthouse for one. Scooby-Doo pretty much screwed the originality of that genre for all of us. These familiar themes are packaged in such a creative and down right entertaining manner in Widow’s Point you don’t notice them.

Widow’s Point had so many genuinely heebie-jeebie providing moments. Two in particular that stood out were stairs that never end and a character being compelled to keep taking the same photograph over and over. These images will stay with me for a long time.

The words “Couldn’t put it down” are bandied out a fair bit when it comes to books, but it this case it’s 100 percent accurate. I meant to start reading the story, make some notes and continue it the next night. One page in, next thing I knew I had finished it and it was 2am and I had to get up for work in the morning.

The Cover and art inside by Glenn Chadbourne are beautiful and really help to accentuate the creepiness of the novella. This book would be so much less if they hadn’t been included.

Widow’s Point is the scariest story I’ve read in a long time. It felt good to be afraid again, it made me feel alive. As a result I want to stay that way so I think it’ll be a while before I plan another holiday to the Lighthouses of Nova Scotia…

Widow’s Point is released on the 28th of February, 2018
and published by Cemetery Dance.

Available to buy from Cemetery Dance website HERE 

It’s also available from Amazon in the US HERE

In the UK it’s available from Amazon.co.uk HERE

Widow’s Point Review
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