Three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse, miles from the shore. The entrance door is locked from the inside. The clocks have stopped. The Principal Keeper’s weather log describes a mighty storm, but the skies have been clear.
What happened to those three men, out on the tower? The heavy sea whispers their names. The tide shifts beneath the swell, drowning ghosts. Can their secrets ever be recovered from the waves?
Twenty years later, the women they left behind are still struggling to move on. Helen, Jenny and Michelle should have been united by the tragedy, but instead it drove them apart. When a writer arrives, trying to solve the puzzle, he gives them a chance to tell their side of the story. But only in confronting their darkest fears can the truth begin to surface…
Inspired by real events, The Lamplighters is an intoxicating and suspenseful mystery, and an unforgettable story of love and grief that explores the way our fears blur the line between the real and the imagined.
This was a classic bookstagram read, it has gathered a lot of attention on bookish social media in recent weeks and I was very lucky to be gifted a copy by Tandem Collective, by which point I was so excited having seen so much about it. But had it not been for this ‘hype’ on Instagram and Twitter, plus the gift, I wonder would I have picked this book up.
And what a loss that would have been, because this locked room mystery was nothing short of brilliant. Told in a then and now format, the book begins with the boat carrying the relief worker arriving at the lighthouse and discovering it locked but deserted. This is a lighthouse built out at sea, remote and distant, known as the Maiden Rock Lighthouse, she is trecherous to access, dangerous to the men who attend her and a forboding character within this novel. The book proceeds to detail the days on the lighthouse in 1972 leading up to the disappearance, whilst an author 20 years later is meeting with the women left behind, wishing to get their story and solve the mystery of what happened to the 3 men.
The book was compelling and hard to put down, the story unfolded and as the characers developed we learnt more about their past and more importantly their secrets. I particularly liked the aspects of the story set 20 years later, the women all had very different views and memories and experiences since and there was a sense for all 3 that they had lost a lot.
The story, not unexpectedly was steeped in mystery, it concluded well but was left fairly open as to what had happened, a theory was offered but not at all conclusively. This book was more about the experiences of those working the lighthouse, cooped up with 2 others for 8 week blocks, then time to re-adjust to life back home. It was a character study that explored these relationships then and now, and it was perfectly shrouded in the mysterious disappearance.
In truth this is a book I loved as did many others, but as a reviewer it is a difficult one to pinpoint what made it so special, so mesmerising, the mystery was strong and I always enjoy books told from more than one perspecitve and time. The hardback edition is attractive and the story would appeal to many I think, so a book I would recommend widely and also one that I would suggest would make a very nice gift.
About the Author
Emma Stones was born in 1983 and grew up in Northamptonshire. Before becoming a writer, she worked as an editor at a major publishing house. The Lamplighters left harbour after a lifelong passion for lighthouses and everything to do with the sea; it has been translated into more than twenty languages. She lives in the South West with her family.