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Light's End, by Michael Vance

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    Posted: Mar-09-2015 at 6:54am

Light's End
by Michael Vance
reviewed by Tim Walters
available at Starland.com

The Light's End audio series is sure to delight the discerning listener, courtesy of Michael Vance's crisp prose and the distinguished vocal contributions of actor William Windom. The most devoted fans, however, will also want a copy of Vance's Light's End chapbook. It is an 88 page collection that includes photos, maps, poems and other tidbits related to the fictional burg of Light's End, Maine. Ebenezar Azreal's stately home is pictured here, as is the "corpulent and feminine" Crawford Hotel. Of course the maps and photos are merely an adjunct to the real meat of the book, namely the stories.

Among my favorites is "Wishful Thinking," which opens, appropriately, on Halloween night and focuses on the frightening legend of Sara Lagle, also known as the Witch of Light's End.

"A Trick of Light" is about a man who finds the flickering light of the movie screen more desirable than his own dark reality. One of its characters is Jake Horne, who turns up in a number of Light's End stories.

"Fall Guy" is about the day Light's End was visited by the Amazing Man who jumps off buildings. The tale effectively uses comic book imagery and allusions, which is not surprising since Michael Vance has a longstanding connection with and affection for the comics medium.

Another favorite is "Cross Purposes," the memorable saga of Allie Dunlevy, a resident of the Azreal house. Although she is a woman of resolve and dignity, Allie is shunned by the local townsfolk and ultimately succumbs to a fate far worse than she deserves.

At times Vance's wistful, evocative style is reminiscent of Ray Bradbury's fiction, while the often horrific nature of the series recalls the work of writers like H.P. Lovecraft and Robert Bloch. Michael Vance is a talented and underrated wordsmith, and it is unfortunate that the Light's End collection has not been picked up by a major publisher and made available to a wider audience of readers.

The chapbook and audio tapes are available at www.starland.com.

Copyright© 2002,  Tim Walters

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