Book Review | The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex


Title: The Lamplighters

Author: Emma Stonex

Publisher: Picador

Release Date: 4th March 2021

Source: NetGalley

Cornwall, 1972. 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 all week.

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. And then a writer approaches them. He wants to give 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 by Emma Stonex is an intoxicating and suspenseful mystery, an unforgettable story of love and grief that explores the way our fears blur the line between the real and the imagined.

If you are familiar with the Eilean Mor (aka Flannan Isles) mystery, where back in 1900 three lighthouse keepers mysteriously disappeared then this book may interest you.  It has been inspired by the events of 1900 and takes us forward in time to 1972 where off the coast of Cornwall a proud lighthouse stands guard.

Straight away you know the lighthouse keepers are gone.  The story starts with the relief crews discovery of an empty tower which should be manned by three men but is empty, they have vanished without a trace with no clue to their fates.

The story flits forward between 1972 and 1992, it is told from the POVs of all of the men and all of their partners.  Of course the men’s tale stops in 1972, they tell the story of the days leading up to their disappearance, they are a tight knit group but slowly start to unravel.  

Their partners are approached in 1992 by an author who wants to know their sides of the story, he wants them to tell their tale as he feels everyone has closed ranks over the years giving the distinct impression of hiding something.  What are they hiding and will it reveal the fate of the men?

As the book progresses you learn about the lives, loves and losses of these men and women.  You also learn that the job of lighthouse keeper is not an easy one, the lighthouse is an imposing character in this book.  It is known as the Maiden and it gives off a slightly claustrophobic air.  I don’t think I could spend weeks and weeks stuck there.  

This book was such a good read, it was highly atmospheric with the sea and the lighthouse being the most atmospheric.  The story is spooky but not in a supernatural way, just the remoteness of the lighthouse and the fact that they are stuck out there with only each other for company.  

Thank you to NetGalley and Picador for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Travels with my Books ‘21
Cloak and Dagger ‘21

18 comments

  1. I'm not familiar with this at all but it sounds really good. I don't see many stories that revolve around a lighthouse, and now I'm curious😁

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  2. I do love a story with a lighthouse setting....especially a spooky, mysterious one! :)

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  3. I used to like the idea of living in a lighthouse until the first time I watched The Fog!!!

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    1. I still have nightmares about that film, honestly whenever I see fog my mind goes to that film!

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  4. I think many readers are drawn to lighthouse settings and I am one of them!

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  5. I love light house settings as well, and wow, some unique books, all of which I haven't come across and plan to add.

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  6. The more I hear about this one, the more intrigued I become! I read an article by the author basically explaining that because no-one knows what happened to them and there are so many possibilities that they wanted to present just one of them within their book - I think that's such an interesting backstory!

    Thanks for sharing your fantastic review, it's definitely given me a lot to think about. :)

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    1. It wasn’t how I expected it to go, I think I expected more ghostly involvement but how it went was very well done.

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  7. Oooh! I need to grab this one. Thanks for putting this on my radar!

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