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They say we'll never know what happened to those men. They say the sea keeps its secrets... 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 m They say we'll never know what happened to those men. They say the sea keeps its secrets... 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 . . . The Lamplighters is a heart-stopping mystery rich with the salty air of the Cornish coast, and an unforgettable story of love and grief that explores the way our fears blur the line between the real and the imagined.


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They say we'll never know what happened to those men. They say the sea keeps its secrets... 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 m They say we'll never know what happened to those men. They say the sea keeps its secrets... 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 . . . The Lamplighters is a heart-stopping mystery rich with the salty air of the Cornish coast, and an unforgettable story of love and grief that explores the way our fears blur the line between the real and the imagined.

30 review for The Lamplighters

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    For this novel, Emma Stonex takes inspiration from the Eilean Mor lighthouse mystery on the Flannan Isles in the Outer Hebrides in 1900 where lighthouse keepers disappeared. She shifts the location and time to Cornwall in 1972 where at Maiden Rock, 3 lighthouse keepers disappear, in the odd circumstances where the inside locks are on and the clocks have stopped. There is the assumption that the men were swept away by the sea, but other theories and rumours abound. In 1992, 3o years later, a writ For this novel, Emma Stonex takes inspiration from the Eilean Mor lighthouse mystery on the Flannan Isles in the Outer Hebrides in 1900 where lighthouse keepers disappeared. She shifts the location and time to Cornwall in 1972 where at Maiden Rock, 3 lighthouse keepers disappear, in the odd circumstances where the inside locks are on and the clocks have stopped. There is the assumption that the men were swept away by the sea, but other theories and rumours abound. In 1992, 3o years later, a writer interviews the wives and girlfriends of the men, Helen, Jenny and Michelle, women who might have found comfort in coming together to assuage their grief, but instead splintered apart. In a unsettling, tense and atmospheric narrative that shifts between the men in 1972 and the women in 1992, the author explores the psychological impact of the place, the isolation of being a lighthouse keeper and the grief the women experience. All had separate secrets that are slowly revealed amidst the evocative and rich descriptions of the seas and location. The difficult relationships between the men, Arthur Black, William 'Bill' Walker and Vince Bourne, are portrayed as the dynamics shift between them. There is the strange account in Arthur's log of a big storm yet the seas had been calm at the time. This is a beautifully written mystery, a story of love, loss, fear, betrayal, deception, and grief, tinged with the supernatural. Stonex's novel is informative and insightful about the demands and challenges of being a lighthouse keeper, and the highlight for me is the detailed and complex relationships between the various characters. Many thanks to Pan Macmillan for an ARC.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Walsh

    4.5 Stars. I wish to extend my heartfelt thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Canada for this atmospheric and haunting book. Its author, Emma Stonex, was inspired by the mysterious, unsolved disappearance of three lighthouse keepers in 1900 from a lighthouse in the Outer Hebrides. Interesting accounts of this true disappearance can be found by googling the Eilean Mor lighthouse. This fictional novel moves the event to a Cornwell lighthouse in the Atlantic, miles from the shore. In 1972, three k 4.5 Stars. I wish to extend my heartfelt thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Canada for this atmospheric and haunting book. Its author, Emma Stonex, was inspired by the mysterious, unsolved disappearance of three lighthouse keepers in 1900 from a lighthouse in the Outer Hebrides. Interesting accounts of this true disappearance can be found by googling the Eilean Mor lighthouse. This fictional novel moves the event to a Cornwell lighthouse in the Atlantic, miles from the shore. In 1972, three keepers vanished from Maiden Lighthouse under mysterious circumstances. The detailed description of the sea was enthralling. In vivid, rich prose, it describes the coldness, the grey sky and ocean, its churning waves, the fog, mist, howling wind, and the tossing of the supply vessel. I could almost taste the salty sea air and felt momentarily on the verge of seasickness. The book emphasizes the importance of the three lighthouse keepers' personalities, their ability to get along or at least tolerate their differences. It is a lonely, solitary life spending long periods of time away from wives and girlfriends. The longing for their loved ones on land must be endured, or for some, their isolation may come as a relief. Secrets and deceptions emerge that leads to anger, resentment, and even madness with a supernatural element. Those on the supply ship in 1972 find an empty, abandoned lighthouse, a heavy door locked from the inside, a table set for only two, and clocks stopped at the same hour. Even stranger, the Principal Keeper's log indicates a fearsome, raging storm when the weather was calm. What was the fate of the three men? Twenty years later, in 1992, their women are struggling with sorrow, abandonment, and resentment over the lack of answers from the company's investigations. They have not found any closure for the tragedy. A well-known author of fictional naval thrillers intends to write his first non-fiction book on the disappearances and hopes he can solve the mystery. As he interviews the women, he explores their feelings, and he uncovers long-held secrets, emotions of love and loss, deceptions, anger, betrayal and grief. They admit their feelings towards their men who vanished. Women who should have formed a sympathetic and friendly union after the tragedy were driven further apart afterwards. The book portrays their unfulfilled, often lonely lives and their struggles to move on. I don't think I have ever read a book that so vividly describes the chill of the North Atlantic, its storms, the raging ocean, loneliness, and the dynamics of people living in isolated close quarters. I felt I had more questions than answers at the end of this compelling, intriguing novel. Well done!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Amalia Gkavea

    ‘’Today it’s soundless. Jory knows loud seas and silent seas, heavy seas and mirror seas, seas where your boat feels like the last blink of humankind on a roll so determined and angry that you believe in what you don’t believe in, such as the sea being that halfway thing between heaven and hell or whatever lies up there and whatever lurks down deep. A fisherman told him once about the sea having two faces.’’ Cornwall, 1972. The three keepers of a formidable lighthouse vanish without a trace. ‘’Today it’s soundless. Jory knows loud seas and silent seas, heavy seas and mirror seas, seas where your boat feels like the last blink of humankind on a roll so determined and angry that you believe in what you don’t believe in, such as the sea being that halfway thing between heaven and hell or whatever lies up there and whatever lurks down deep. A fisherman told him once about the sea having two faces.’’ Cornwall, 1972. The three keepers of a formidable lighthouse vanish without a trace. The doors are locked. The table has been laid for dinner. The clocks have stopped at the same time. But Andrew, Bill and Vince are gone. 1992. A writer decides to write a book about the strange incident and conducts Helen, Jenny and Michelle, the women who were left behind. Their voices merge with the thoughts of the keepers and the truth - if there is an actual truth - is hidden behind the thick mist. ‘’The saying goes she makes a sound when the weather hits hard, like a woman crying, where the wind gets in between the rocks.’’ Inspired by the actual incident that took place in 1900 in the Outer Hebrides, Emma Stonex creates a novel of superb atmosphere and tension. The reader has to discern the validity of multiple accounts, each narrator has a piece of the puzzle and brick upon brick of contradictory opinion. The story is built upon the powerful themes of loneliness, monotony, isolation. Eerie scenes and memories of the past compose a tale where nothing is what it seems. A storm may or may not have happened. A man is in love with someone else’s wife and someone has committed a crime. The women have drifted apart, each one suspecting foul play against a husband. Whispers of hauntings and voices through the mists excite everyone’s imagination. The quiet humming of Scarborough Fair accompanies a mother’s grief… In terms of atmosphere, this novel is top-notch. Perfect. But apart from Helen, Andrew and Bill, the characters felt problematic and I couldn’t bring myself to ‘’listen’’ to their call. I couldn’t stand Jenny and I wasn’t particularly interested in Pearl, Vince and Michelle’s chapters, hence the 4 stars. In my opinion, the characterization fell flat, as if it was sacrificed on the altar of mystery and eeriness. This is a heavily-hyped novel and I agree 100%. Had the characters been more appealing (in my opinion), this would have been one of my reading highlights of the year. ‘’The moon pale - eyes through the window. Weird moon. Weird thoughts. Moons out here so bright it hurts. Against everything else they’re brighter than they should be. Imagining the moon is the sun and the whole world turned inside out.’’ Many thanks to Pan MacMillan and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. My reviews can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.word...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kay

    Overall The Lamplighters was a 3⭐ read with the ending slightly higher, but not quite four stars. Let's just say I've been intrigued by the real mystery which this novel is based on. The disappearance of three lighthouse keepers of Flannan Isles in 1900. Vanished without a trace. It's kinda spooky isn't it? There are many speculations of what happened. Giant sea creatures, birds, ghosts or pirates. I agree with the official records that they drowned, fell into the ocean from violent waves. Some a Overall The Lamplighters was a 3⭐ read with the ending slightly higher, but not quite four stars. Let's just say I've been intrigued by the real mystery which this novel is based on. The disappearance of three lighthouse keepers of Flannan Isles in 1900. Vanished without a trace. It's kinda spooky isn't it? There are many speculations of what happened. Giant sea creatures, birds, ghosts or pirates. I agree with the official records that they drowned, fell into the ocean from violent waves. Some assumptions lean toward loneliness that drove one of them crazy. These men were retired sailors and one a captain. 🤔 Being on the island on a six-week rotation isn't that long.... But insanity theory does make a better story like in the film The Lighthouse (2019). The Lamplighters story is set in 1970s and on a different island. I didn't enjoy this book as much as I hoped. It was the six POVs, three keepers and three wives (interview). I was mostly captivated by what happened on the island so almost half the book with wives were less interesting and dry.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jayme

    1972 All three of the Maiden House lighthouse keepers have vanished. The clocks have both stopped at 8:45 The table is set for a meal for two, not three The log entries tell of a storm, not recorded elsewhere The tower is Bolted shut-from the inside 1992 Author Dan Sharp is writing a book hoping to solve the Maiden Rock Mystery Trident House says the case is closed and won’t speak of it. The wives who should’ve have bonded together over this incident are estranged and only one is talking. This book a 1972 All three of the Maiden House lighthouse keepers have vanished. The clocks have both stopped at 8:45 The table is set for a meal for two, not three The log entries tell of a storm, not recorded elsewhere The tower is Bolted shut-from the inside 1992 Author Dan Sharp is writing a book hoping to solve the Maiden Rock Mystery Trident House says the case is closed and won’t speak of it. The wives who should’ve have bonded together over this incident are estranged and only one is talking. This book appealed to me because I LOVE atmospheric stories, and a bit of Supernatural. The mystery of what might have occurred was intriguing. But this book is actually HISTORICAL FICTION-based on lighthouse keepers Thomas Marshall, James Ducat, and Donald MacArthur, who disappeared from a remote rock light on the island of Eilean Mor in the outer Hebrides in December of 1900. It in NO WAY implies that these characters resemble the real men or that this is what actually happens, but imagines a story based on this event. An unsolved mystery based on a real event The doctored log book which also noted the “low spirits” of the men and stopped clock are fact, as was the discovery of a set of oilskins apparently not worn, despite the reported storm, according to information shared by the National Maritime Museum (www.rmg.co.uk ) The Flannan Isle Mystery was also the basis for the 2019 film, “The Vanishing” So, if you are looking for a Supernatural story, based on the first paragraph, as I was-you will need to LOOK elsewhere-this is NOT that kind of book. BUT-if you are intrigued by this real bit of history and would like to read this author’s idea of what might have occurred-this story is fascinating, though a bit DRY in its story telling style. ⚠️ The gratuitous killing of a dog is briefly described. 3.5 rounded up Available now!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Éimhear (A Little Haze)

    The Lamplighters is inspired by a true life mystery when three lighthouse keepers disappeared from a lighthouse without a trace in 1900. Here the action is moved to 1972 when the lighthouse keepers disappeared from a lighthouse known as Maiden Rock and to twenty years after their disappearance in 1992. The characters in this novel are entirely fictional. In 1972 we are given chapters from each of the lighthouse keepers. Principal Keeper Arthur, Assistant Keeper Bill and Supernumerary Keeper Vinc The Lamplighters is inspired by a true life mystery when three lighthouse keepers disappeared from a lighthouse without a trace in 1900. Here the action is moved to 1972 when the lighthouse keepers disappeared from a lighthouse known as Maiden Rock and to twenty years after their disappearance in 1992. The characters in this novel are entirely fictional. In 1972 we are given chapters from each of the lighthouse keepers. Principal Keeper Arthur, Assistant Keeper Bill and Supernumerary Keeper Vince. Their chapters give us an insight into the realities of life in an isolated island lighthouse and how that plays with the psychological mindset of each men. We are also given insight into the relationships that the lighthouse keepers have with each other and with their wives/partners back on sure. Each man is carrying different secrets that are slowly revealed over the course of the knowledge to give a full picture of what happened in that lighthouse. In 1992 a novelist sets outs to uncover the truth behind the mystery of the men’s disappearance and in these chapters we are introduced to the wives/partner of the men; Helen, Jenny and Michelle. As with the men’s chapters set in 1972 the perspectives from each woman helps to further set the scene of what the relationships between each of the men were like and the secrets that are revealed by these women give background to the strained relationships between the lighthouse keepers. The book is quite slow paced and filled with lots of red herrings to throw the reader off the scent as to what truly happened. And early on this was enough to hold my attention... but somewhere along the way I began to get quite tired of the narrative style. I particularly didn’t enjoy the way the chapters set in 1992 told the story. To me there was too much detachment of emotion using the one-sided interview style especially. I began to get frustrated and bored by how many sentences began with I this and I that! It made the prose feel incredibly perfunctory and lacking in any sort of enjoyable rhythm. I also wasn’t a fan of how the book attempted to bring in a supernatural element with the character of the silver man and whether or not he had any relationship to a mysterious character that showed up on the lighthouse late on in the read. It made the story difficult to follow and didn’t add any beneficial intrigue to the storyline in my opinion. But I was interested in seeing how the book would turn out and could possibly have rated somewhere between three and four stars... that was until I got to the 85% mark in the book. WARNING ANIMAL ABUSE It was at this point that there was what I felt a needless description of the torture and murder of a family pet dog that a young child was forced to watch. I felt physically ill as I read this. It made me incredibly upset and disgusted at this book. Had I known this book had a passage featuring such horrific animal and child abuse I would not have picked it up to read. This is where I really wish content warnings were standard as part of book blurbs because from the blurb I would never have envisioned this story to feature such a disturbing and violent passage. I didn’t want to continue the novel once I read that passageway but felt I owed it to the author, publishers, and NetGalley to finish the novel so I could give a complete review. If it had happened in the earlier part of the novel rather than so close to the end at 85% I would definitely have DNFd it. I had been somewhat enjoying the overall storyline and was invested in finding out the ending so I could discover what truly happened to the missing lighthouse keepers, but this unnecessary description of animal murder and child abuse is the main reason why I am giving a rating of two stars to this novel. But also the ending of the book wasn’t strong enough to convince me to give this book an overall positive rating. Content warning: Death of a child due to accidental drowning Animal torture and murder that a young child is forced to watch *An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley. This review contains my honest thoughts and opinions* Publishing 4th March 2021, Picador For more reviews and book related chat check out my blog Follow me on Twitter Friend me on Goodreads

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Lawson

    3.5 stars. An interesting book and I've always been fascinated about the story that this was lightly based on. It went off on a lot of tangents that didn't always go anywhere but I still really enjoyed it. 3.5 stars. An interesting book and I've always been fascinated about the story that this was lightly based on. It went off on a lot of tangents that didn't always go anywhere but I still really enjoyed it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

    In December 1900, the three keepers of the lighthouse on Eilean Mòr, one of the Flannan Isles in the Outer Hebrides, disappeared without a trace. The lighthouse itself was found to be clean and in good shape, with no indication of any struggle or unusual occurrence. The only detail suggesting a hurried abandonment of the lighthouse, was the discovery of one set of oilskins, suggesting that one of the men – unlike the others – had left the lighthouse without them. The Flannan Isles disappearance In December 1900, the three keepers of the lighthouse on Eilean Mòr, one of the Flannan Isles in the Outer Hebrides, disappeared without a trace. The lighthouse itself was found to be clean and in good shape, with no indication of any struggle or unusual occurrence. The only detail suggesting a hurried abandonment of the lighthouse, was the discovery of one set of oilskins, suggesting that one of the men – unlike the others – had left the lighthouse without them. The Flannan Isles disappearance is one of the best-known sea-related mysteries. The most probable – and prosaic – explanation is that two of the keepers might have been carried out by freak waves during a storm, with the third suffering the same fate when he tried to assist his comrades. However, there is no lack of alternative theories – ranging from suggestions of a “double-homicide-and-suicide” to alien abduction. The mystery has kept a hold on artists’ imagination. In 1912, Wilfrid Wilson Gibson wrote the ballad Flannan Isle, retelling the story with some artistic licence (the detail of an “overturned chair” is Gibson’s invention although it is often perceived to be true). The 2018 movie The Vanishing is based on the story, which is also referenced in the much-lauded The Lighthouse of the following year directed by Robert Eggers of The Witch fame. And, as a lover of classical music, I cannot fail to mention the “ghost opera” The Lighthouse by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, which reinterprets the mystery as a Gothic shocker featuring religious mania and a descent into madness. The Flannan Isles mystery provides the inspiration for The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex. Stonex draws from the real-life incident just the bare bones of the story (the unexplained disappearance of three keepers from a remote lighthouse) and a handful of the more intriguing details (such as the ‘stopped clocks’). Other than that however, she weaves her own tale, and it is definitely a compelling one. The Lamplighters transposes the events to 1972 and sets them in a rock lighthouse, a “fifty-metre column of heroic Victorian engineering” known as the Maiden, standing out of the sea fifteen nautical miles off the Cornish coast. The lighthouse is manned by three keepers, Principal Keeper Arthur Black, assistant Keeper William ‘Bill’ Walker and Supernumerary Assistant Keeper Vincent ‘Vinny’ Bourne. Like their real-life counterparts, the trio go missing in December, with no obvious explanation to their disappearance. Twenty years later, a writer of nautical fiction decides to write a book about this mystery. The narrative alternates between two timelines – some chapters are set in 1972 and are written from the perspective of the individual keepers; others are set in 1992 and consist mainly of interviews with the author. Through this approach, Stonex teases out two different strands. One the one hand there is the account of the male-centred three-member community of the lighthouse. On the other hand, there is the counternarrative of the women these men left behind, whether during their spells at the lighthouse or, more definitively, following their disappearance. Towards the end, the novel presents us with different possible solutions to the mystery, including the one which, it seems, we should take at face value since it is recounted by an omniscient, third-person narrator. Even then, however, an element of doubt remains: “We’re not sure of the truth, are we? Isn’t that the point? Some mysteries just aren’t meant to be known…” While the mystery element drives the narrative forward, The Lamplighters is not primarily about that. Its strength lies in the description of the complex relationships between the small cast of characters, particularly the rivalry between Bill and Arthur and, in parallel, their wives Jenny and Helen. I also enjoyed the atmospheric descriptions of the way of life of the lighthouse keepers. These are based on historical accounts, giving the novel a salty tang of authenticity. What I found less convincing are the attempts at including a supernatural element (including puzzling references to a mysterious “Silver Man”) in a novel which is primarily ‘realist’ in approach. Much as I enjoy supernatural fiction, I felt that the very human drama of three keepers trapped on a rock out at sea at the mercy of the elements is more than enough to give The Lamplighters a Gothic flavour, without the need to resort to ghostly apparitions. https://endsoftheword.blogspot.com/20...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    I love a good mystery and knowing this was based on a true story made this book stand out to me. Three lighthouse men have disappeared whilst on shift at the lighthouse, the building is empty and they have vanished without a trace. The story alternates between 1972 before the men disappeared and twenty years later where a writer is seeking to find out what happened to the three missing men. The mens wives are interviewed and it soon becomes apparent that secrets have been withheld. This book kept m I love a good mystery and knowing this was based on a true story made this book stand out to me. Three lighthouse men have disappeared whilst on shift at the lighthouse, the building is empty and they have vanished without a trace. The story alternates between 1972 before the men disappeared and twenty years later where a writer is seeking to find out what happened to the three missing men. The mens wives are interviewed and it soon becomes apparent that secrets have been withheld. This book kept me intrigued as I tried to work out what happened to the lighthouse men and I loved reading about their jobs and what working on a lighthouse would be like. Definitely an author I will look out for!! Thank you to Netgalley for my copy in exchange for a review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alan Cotterell

    Thank you to NetGalley, Pan Macmillan and the author for the chance to review. I really liked the premise of this book when I requested it from Netgalley This is based on a true story, where all three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse 15 miles from the shore. The door is locked from the inside, the clocks have both stopped at the same time, the log records a mighty storm even though the skies have been clear all week. So, what happened? I expected “The Lamplighters”, to be full of intrigue Thank you to NetGalley, Pan Macmillan and the author for the chance to review. I really liked the premise of this book when I requested it from Netgalley This is based on a true story, where all three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse 15 miles from the shore. The door is locked from the inside, the clocks have both stopped at the same time, the log records a mighty storm even though the skies have been clear all week. So, what happened? I expected “The Lamplighters”, to be full of intrigue and mystery. However, I found this was a novel that divided me, I loved the storyline as told by the men isolated at the lighthouse, with some great descriptions really setting the scene. good making it easy to visualise the isolation and both the power and the beauty of the sea. But when the narrative changed to the women’s viewpoint, back on the mainland it didn't work quite so well, for some reason their characters never really took developed and it felt a little disjointed. Part of the problem in my humble opinion is that it tries to be a bit of everything. A lot of the writing is truly beautiful the descriptions of the sea, are incredibly emotive. I also found the insights into the lives of the men, captivating and interesting. Unfortunately, part of what made this so wonderfully descriptive is also its downfall. I personally found there was just too many words, far more than were necessary. I’m sure others will love this book but for me it was a little disappointing. Overall this is a mixed bag. I can't help but feel it just needs a little bit more work on it and it could become something excellent.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Marchpane

    The Lamplighters is a locked room mystery—or rather ‘locked lighthouse’, the kind only accessible by boat—with gothic vibes and a moody 1970s Cornwall setting. Three lighthouse keepers vanish without trace… did an accident do them in, or was it foul play? Or maybe ghosts? Or Cornish pixies? This was a fun read, mostly. A complicated puzzle like this one needs a satisfying solution—one that honours the clues that have been laid down and fits them neatly together. I can’t spoil the ending but it di The Lamplighters is a locked room mystery—or rather ‘locked lighthouse’, the kind only accessible by boat—with gothic vibes and a moody 1970s Cornwall setting. Three lighthouse keepers vanish without trace… did an accident do them in, or was it foul play? Or maybe ghosts? Or Cornish pixies? This was a fun read, mostly. A complicated puzzle like this one needs a satisfying solution—one that honours the clues that have been laid down and fits them neatly together. I can’t spoil the ending but it didn’t quite land for me. My reaction wasn’t ‘No fair!’, it was more like ‘Huh.’ In order to create red herrings (and, uh, green herrings?) the author kept adding new details until the story became unwieldy. An enjoyable book but the ending let it down. 3 stars. _________________ PS. While I don’t expect a lighthouse keeper to be an expert in marine biology, you’d think someone raised by the ocean would know better than to say this: ‘…I like the idea of that shell being returned to the sea. All that travelling over millions of years, all that effort, rolling in the grind of the prehistoric wash, only to be spat up on a distant shore…’ Or this: ‘[Sharks are] cool torpedoes of blubber, sliced at the gills, equipped with teeth. Fat and teeth, that’s the thing. Needles in a bowl of curd.’ Seashells are not millions of years old. Sharks do not have blubber, they are cold blooded! These don't read like intentional mistakes (this character is afraid of the ocean, but not ignorant), so what’s up with these bizarro factoids?

  12. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Shindler

    In 1900 three lighthouse keepers disappeared from the Eilean Mor lighthouse in the Outer Hebrides. They were never found and there has been no explanation for their vanishing. In a well constructed novel, Emma Stonex reimagines this event by transposing the time to 1972 and the location to the rugged coast of Cornwall.The result is a multi layered novel that fuses atmosphere and mystery with personal and societal psychology. The plot is carried forward in two time periods, 1972 and 1992. The 1972 In 1900 three lighthouse keepers disappeared from the Eilean Mor lighthouse in the Outer Hebrides. They were never found and there has been no explanation for their vanishing. In a well constructed novel, Emma Stonex reimagines this event by transposing the time to 1972 and the location to the rugged coast of Cornwall.The result is a multi layered novel that fuses atmosphere and mystery with personal and societal psychology. The plot is carried forward in two time periods, 1972 and 1992. The 1972 period explores the inner thoughts of the three light keepers and slowly reveals their individual personalities, backstories and interactions with each other and their wives and girlfriends.Their voices interweave with each other in an almost musical tapestry to reveal their isolation, loneliness and ability to cope with the awe inspiring natural force of the sea. The 1992 timeline focuses on the women who have been left behind and their evolving ability to cope with grief and loss as well as their retrospective reflections on their relationships to their lost loved ones as well as to each other. This narrative construct creates a slowly evolving mosaic of secrets, anxieties and personality developments that reveal the inner core of each of the protagonists. The development of their individual personalities comes slowly and subtly.As I read, I formed an image of Salome tantalizingly removing her seven veils. At times I agonized for a quicker reveal but resolved to lay back and let the story come to me. Two external forces loom over the story and add an aura of tension to the story.The first force is the sea. In the opening sequence, we are reminded of the sea’s power and capriciousness through the description of a difficult shore landing of a relief boat.All the characters spend their lives influenced by their proximity to this majestic natural force.Their relationships, sense of self and well being are periodically influenced by the vagaries of a force beyond their control.The second external force is the influence of Trident House, the controlling administrators for the lighthouse enterprise.Although more subtly portrayed in the novel, we are reminded that the protagonists live in a company controlled town. This entity determines the living arrangements,life shifts and social hierarchy governing the lives of each of the men and women in this story.They live in company owned houses that place them close together yet constrict the range of their emotional responses to each other.Also looming over their lives is the light from the tower. This light stands as a beacon that marks time in their lives and possibly offers a glimmer of hope.The interplay of these factors present a portrait of an insular but multi dimensional society that I will remember for a long time.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Thebooktrail

    Visit the locations in the novel - the fictional one and the ones which inspired the novel A novel to transport you to a real-life locked room mystery set in a lighthouse.. There’s something about a locked room mystery that gives me the excited chills. Something about a locked room mystery based on true fact makes me shiver with excitement so much I can barely breathe. So, it’s fair to say I went into this novel breathless. I didn’t get that back until the end of the book. I almost fainted from l Visit the locations in the novel - the fictional one and the ones which inspired the novel A novel to transport you to a real-life locked room mystery set in a lighthouse.. There’s something about a locked room mystery that gives me the excited chills. Something about a locked room mystery based on true fact makes me shiver with excitement so much I can barely breathe. So, it’s fair to say I went into this novel breathless. I didn’t get that back until the end of the book. I almost fainted from light-headedness. Lots of chocolate necesary to recover. Well, that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it. This story is based on the true life mystery of the disappearance of the lighthouse keepers from the Flannan Isles. I have always been fascinated by that story and remember reading about it, so to take this and retell it via fiction seemed like a genius idea. The setting and atmosphere of this book is simply stunningly evoked. The author has relocated the story from the Outer Hebrides to Cornwall as well as the historical dates, but the tension and creepiness factor is well and truly established. Lighthouse keeper by nature work in solitude, in some of the most inhospitable conditions ever. Wild seas, cold waters, fierce winds and darkness. An impending sense of doom and foreboding. Then there’s the mysterious events inside – such as the clocks which have stopped for no apparent reason…. The author has done an amazing job with scene setting as well as storytelling. She tells the story with heart and soul and it was a real treat to read. Brilliantly evoked the sense of loneliness and despair. Breathe, breathe. The characters in the story were the real draw here too. Three men who each come to the lighthouse for their own personal reasons. Three women, left behind, with their own stories to tell. I loved the fact this was the story of those left behind as well as those lost. Where DID they go? I thought this was a real treat of a reading experience and I felt moved by the ending too. Highly recommended for an immersive reading treat and locked room mystery to take your breathe away. Breathe breathe.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Liz Barnsley

    Blimey that was an excellent, atmospheric read with a classic locked room mystery at the heart of it, a mystery that came from a real life event you can read about here. That’s the inspiration but Emma Stonex imagines her own set of events and characters and it is absolutely addictive, often very creepy and with some beautiful writing. I was completely engaged with this which is a deep character driven drama of many layers. A bit Russian doll like, unraveling a layer at a time, slowly you come to Blimey that was an excellent, atmospheric read with a classic locked room mystery at the heart of it, a mystery that came from a real life event you can read about here. That’s the inspiration but Emma Stonex imagines her own set of events and characters and it is absolutely addictive, often very creepy and with some beautiful writing. I was completely engaged with this which is a deep character driven drama of many layers. A bit Russian doll like, unraveling a layer at a time, slowly you come to an understanding of sorts, it leaves you melancholy and thoughtful. The characters here are so well drawn, the reader develops an emotional connection with them early on so right from the first chapter you are absolutely hooked in to this narrative. I loved it. This is the kind of writing and storytelling that I adore. Talented, intelligent, imaginative and beautiful. Highly Recommended .

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    4.5 stars. The only reason I didn't give it a 5 star rating was because there were so many voids in the first 3/4ths of the book that it will be difficult for most readers to follow. Pronouns, for instance, without a context of who or to whom they refer. But truthfully, in this intense psychological study of 3 men encapsulated without others in isolation of the light house? That's not the only issue that is murky. Purposefully murky. Excellent premise and superb delivery. Even the switching worke 4.5 stars. The only reason I didn't give it a 5 star rating was because there were so many voids in the first 3/4ths of the book that it will be difficult for most readers to follow. Pronouns, for instance, without a context of who or to whom they refer. But truthfully, in this intense psychological study of 3 men encapsulated without others in isolation of the light house? That's not the only issue that is murky. Purposefully murky. Excellent premise and superb delivery. Even the switching worked. A rarity. Developing only these handful of 5 to 8 characters- and only 6 at the most to core? It was a sublime job of prose mixed with nightmare, mixed with nature's melodies or screams, mixed with love bound and soothing words. And at times those last very words had nearly opposite connotations. Human beings in quarantine. Do some of us know about the tangent accessories to loneliness? Or to the inward explosions of silence which are later turned outward or mighty. Until I was 3/4ths through this novel, I had no good target scenario and then I had nearly it all. But I was at least a 1/3rd wrong. 5 stars for an ending I only saw part of the way coming. And also for the exquisite wordings for the grief or much later emotional compromises. Highly recommend this unique read. It's effusive but hardly in a volcanic way. It's deep seated life style based. Core introvert described in many sections. Self-analyzing and at the same time- so real and true. No man is an island. Artificial isolations are not only debilitating but caldrons of mental sickness. Again, strong recommendation to read this book. Perfect time for it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Louise Wilson

    Cornwall, 1972: Three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse, miles from the shore. The enterance dooor is locked from the inside. The clocks have stopped. The Principal Keeper's weather logdescribes a mighty storm, but the skies have been clear all week. Twenty years laer, the women they left behind are strugging to move on. Helen, Jenny and Michelle should have been united by the tragedy, but instead it drove them apart. A writer wants to give them a chance to tell their side of the story. The Cornwall, 1972: Three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse, miles from the shore. The enterance dooor is locked from the inside. The clocks have stopped. The Principal Keeper's weather logdescribes a mighty storm, but the skies have been clear all week. Twenty years laer, the women they left behind are strugging to move on. Helen, Jenny and Michelle should have been united by the tragedy, but instead it drove them apart. A writer wants to give them a chance to tell their side of the story. The story flips back and forth from 1972 and twenty yeara after the event. We learn how the wifes coped after their husbands went missing. The stoeey is told from the six main characteraoints of view. This story was inspired by by the unsolved disappearance of three lighthiuse keepersfron the Flannigan Isles lighthouse in 1990. The pace is steady in this creepy, atmospheric and well written book. I would like to thank #NetGalley, #PanMacmillan and the author #EmmaStonex for my ARC #TheLamplighters in exchange for an honest review.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Natalie "Curling up with a Coffee and a Kindle" Rampling

    Original review: I was so excited by this book's premise. Who doesn't love a locked room mystery, and one set on a creepy lighthouse in atmospheric Cornwall? Sign me up! However, the book was a disappointment for me. The constant change of character viewpoint and timeliness without clear enough distinction of either just made this book very hard to get stuck into. The paragraphs were very literary and I found myself skimming them to get to the actual substance of the mystery itself. The mystery w Original review: I was so excited by this book's premise. Who doesn't love a locked room mystery, and one set on a creepy lighthouse in atmospheric Cornwall? Sign me up! However, the book was a disappointment for me. The constant change of character viewpoint and timeliness without clear enough distinction of either just made this book very hard to get stuck into. The paragraphs were very literary and I found myself skimming them to get to the actual substance of the mystery itself. The mystery was intriguing and gripping, but it was a battle to get to. I know I'm in the minority, so I'm glad other readers could enjoy it. Updated review after listening to the audiobook. This was much more engaging, and this must be down to the narrator. She did the accents superbly and the personalities shone through. I am still undecided about the mystery though, I still feel it was very vague in Stonex's verdict on what happened on the lighthouse, and maybe that was her intention. Very intriguing, but a little frustrating. I now have a much better opinion of the book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

    The unsolved mystery of the disappearance of Eilean More’s three lighthouse keepers in 1900 remains one of history’s most intriguing puzzles: what happened to the men, and how do you explain the strange coincidences that defy a logical explanation? Emma Stonex has run with the idea to create her latest novel and is ready to offer a plausible theory. Even though her story is set in Cornwall in the 1970’s and features fictional characters, it bears a lot of resemblance to the Flannan Isles mystery The unsolved mystery of the disappearance of Eilean More’s three lighthouse keepers in 1900 remains one of history’s most intriguing puzzles: what happened to the men, and how do you explain the strange coincidences that defy a logical explanation? Emma Stonex has run with the idea to create her latest novel and is ready to offer a plausible theory. Even though her story is set in Cornwall in the 1970’s and features fictional characters, it bears a lot of resemblance to the Flannan Isles mystery. It isn’t an easy feat to take a true historic event and transform it into a gripping, suspenseful mystery, but the author has done just that. Told with the help of dual timelines and multiple characters, including the three men and their partners, the story gave a fascinating insight into the daily life of one of history’s most romantic professions: that of the lighthouse keeper. Be warned that Stonex will dispel any illusions of an idyllic lifestyle on small islands or in the middle of the sea. Having hosted such romantic notions myself, I was surprised by descriptions of the austere and regimented lifestyle of the lighthouse keepers as they spent many weeks cut off from isolation in their concrete towers, sending out warning signals to passing seafarers. It was a pleasant surprise to also get the perspectives of the wives and partners they left behind on land, tending the homes and children whilst their men were absent for prolonged periods of time, missing many of the special occasions that normally mark our routines: birthdays, Christmases and other family affairs. Whilst the 1970s timeline slowly unravels the events leading up to the men’s fateful disappearance, the present narrative shows us the incident from the perspective of the widows who never got any satisfactory answers for their husband’s fates. In fact, the lighthouse company has done its utmost to keep them quiet, paying out bereavement pay in exchange for their silences. But when a famous mystery author shows an interest in telling the three men’s story, some secrets are shaken loose ... I admit that I struggled initially with the wives’ narratives told in “interview style”, as they are narrating their experiences and theories to an unknown person. However, as the story drew me in, it got easier to overlook the unusual style and just go along with the flow – I was so intent on getting answers! And whilst the author’s interpretations of the events may or may not be closely related to the truth, her theory was certainly plausible and went a long way towards explaining away some of the mysterious happenings in the lighthouse. I loved how the men’s backstories bled into their current situation in the lighthouse, and the dynamics between the three very different personalities trapped in close confines in the middle of the ocean. The author’s observations about the sea and life near a treacherous coast added a unique backdrop to this fascinating story, and readers who love an atmospheric setting will appreciate her vivid descriptions of life inside “The Maiden”. All in all, THE LAMPLIGHTERS was a fascinating mystery weaving true historic facts into a skilfully constructed tale that captivated as well as intrigued me from start to finish. I loved the true historic facts that play a big part in the novel, and the author’s final tying together of all the threads, which was very satisfying and made this a joy to read. Thank you to Netgalley and Pan Macmillan for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review. *blog* *facebook* *instagram*

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jo_Scho_Reads

    Cornwall 1972. Three men disappear from a remote lighthouse, miles from land. The door is locked from the inside, the clocks have all stopped at 8.45 and there is no sign of anything untoward inside the lighthouse. So where did these men go? Fast forward to 1992 where a writer contacts the partners of these men; feeling it is time that their story is told. But Helen, Jenny and Michelle all have secrets of their own, and some do not want to unearth buried emotions and fears. But like the waves, se Cornwall 1972. Three men disappear from a remote lighthouse, miles from land. The door is locked from the inside, the clocks have all stopped at 8.45 and there is no sign of anything untoward inside the lighthouse. So where did these men go? Fast forward to 1992 where a writer contacts the partners of these men; feeling it is time that their story is told. But Helen, Jenny and Michelle all have secrets of their own, and some do not want to unearth buried emotions and fears. But like the waves, secrets have a way of coming to the surface. So this book has been out for a while now and as I’ve heard such great feedback I jumped at the chance to review it. Such a fascinating premise - I can’t imagine how anyone could ever want to be a lighthouse keeper, the very thought of it makes me feel claustrophobic. Emma Stonex has done such an amazing job of creating a tense and oppressive atmosphere which steadily increases throughout the book that it was all too easy to read with a mounting sense of fear and unease. The story moves back and forth between 1972 and 1992 and although there were times when I couldn’t see how it would all come together it did - and very cleverly so. What made this book even more interesting for me was that it was based upon a true story from 1900, where three lighthouse keepers actually did vanish from a lighthouse in the remote Outer Hebrides. Fascinating, unsettling and intriguing. Add in a little foray into supernatural territory and you have a book which ticked all the right boxes for me. Now I’m off to learn more about lighthouses cause I’ve got the bug! Thanks to Picador and Midas PR for sending me an ARC. All views my own.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ivana - Diary of Difference

    Finished - review coming soon!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rob Twinem

    Probably going against the majority of reivews but this book did not really excite and entertain me. What was I expecting? To me a fair comparison would be the 2019 movie The Lighthouse starring William Defoe and Robert Pattinson....2 lighthouse keepers who begin to descend into madness when a storm strands them on the remote island where they are stationed. I could clearly feel the horror of what was happening it was frighteningly atmospheric. The author of The Lamplighters in no way excited me Probably going against the majority of reivews but this book did not really excite and entertain me. What was I expecting? To me a fair comparison would be the 2019 movie The Lighthouse starring William Defoe and Robert Pattinson....2 lighthouse keepers who begin to descend into madness when a storm strands them on the remote island where they are stationed. I could clearly feel the horror of what was happening it was frighteningly atmospheric. The author of The Lamplighters in no way excited me with her storytelling as she rambled on about the lives of the 3 keepers and the women who waited patiently for their return, told in 2 timelines. There was an illicit affair and the sad death of a child but she failed miserably to bring alive the terror that such an isolated setting should produce. This could just as easily have been a story of 3 miners, 3 deep sea divers, 3 murderers.....the list is endless. The Shining by Stephen King and The Silent Land by Graham Joyce are 2 great examples where the respective authors allowed the reader to feel the horror and madness that resulted from isolation and inclement weather. Many thanks to the good people at netgalley for a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    Date reviewed: September 19, 2020 When life for the entire universe and planet turns on its end and like everyone else you "have nothing to do" while your place of work is closed and you are continuing to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation, superspeed readers like me can read 300+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. F Date reviewed: September 19, 2020 When life for the entire universe and planet turns on its end and like everyone else you "have nothing to do" while your place of work is closed and you are continuing to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation, superspeed readers like me can read 300+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. 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 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. CREEPY AND SPOOKY..and real????? The book is amazing - well crafted, expertly written and a total delight --- and I read it looking at a lighthouse in Gaspesie! The characters are enjoyable and overall, I cannot NOT recommend this book to any person I run across! As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I love emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/Tik-Tok and YouTube Millionaires/etc. " on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it 🚥🚥🚥🚥🚥 (they are sideways due to the wind!)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Hall

    Emma Stonex’s outstanding debut takes its inspiration from a 1900 event in which three lighthouse keepers disappeared without trace from a remote tower and combines evocative descriptions, beautiful prose and vivid characterisations in an extraordinarily atmospheric mystery. The Lamplighters opens in 1972 as a boat is being sent out to the remote Maiden Rock tower, fifteen miles off the coast of Cornwall, to relieve Assistant Keeper, Bill Walker, from a two month stint on the lighthouse. When th Emma Stonex’s outstanding debut takes its inspiration from a 1900 event in which three lighthouse keepers disappeared without trace from a remote tower and combines evocative descriptions, beautiful prose and vivid characterisations in an extraordinarily atmospheric mystery. The Lamplighters opens in 1972 as a boat is being sent out to the remote Maiden Rock tower, fifteen miles off the coast of Cornwall, to relieve Assistant Keeper, Bill Walker, from a two month stint on the lighthouse. When the boat arrives the crew find the tower deserted with the door locked from the inside, two places set for a meal and two clocks stopped at exactly the same time. The mystery deepens when the weather log, kept by much respected Principal Keeper, Arthur Black, reports the arrival of an approaching violent storm when in fact the skies have been calm for over a week. In the wake of the event the men’s employers at Trident House are keen to hush up the matter and the revelation that Supernumerary Assistant, Vincent Bourne, had spent time in prison makes him a convenient scapegoat. Twenty years on and author of maritime adventure novels, Dan Sharp, approaches the women left behind in the hope of shedding light on just what did actually happen on the Maiden Rock and the fate of Arthur, Bill and Vince. In the years following the incident level-headed Helen Black has moved away from the sea and doesn’t ever expect she will know what really happened to Arthur and the others. Her overtures of friendship to needy Jenny Walker, the wife of Assistant Bill, and a woman who has never really come to terms with her husband’s disappearance have been hostilely rebuffed. Meanwhile Vince’s girlfriend, Michelle Davies, is now a frazzled housewife with two young children and a testy husband but has always regretted not contesting the one-sided portrayal of the man she loved, and still thinks about, as a violent thug. Stonex allows the reader to witness and understand the dynamic between the trio of men with part of the narrative following the days leading up to the incident in 1972 and rotating through the perspectives of all three. The 1992 component of the narrative moves between the trio of women and despite Dan Sharp being the impetus for their outpouring he remains an unobtrusive presence, with their words more akin to a stream of consciousness, adding further context to the relationships between all those involved. What Emma Stonex does so well is capture life on a lighthouse; both what it entails and the demands it can make on a person, from the isolation and loneliness to how tensions are magnified in such close confinement, as well as the impact on the family left behind. There is enough doubt surrounding the possible supernatural influences on the event that it only contributes to the haunting atmosphere surrounding the claustrophobic lighthouse setting. An immersive and riveting literary mystery with a credible solution that only begins to unravel once the closely held secrets of all three men are prised out and their marriages, sanity and hopes for the future are explored.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Rouillard

    I’ve always been fascinated by the disappearance of the Flannan Isles Lighthouse Keepers and I’ve set it as a creative prompt for several children’s writing groups, so when I heard about this book inspired by those events, I was excited to see what the author made of the disappearances. The story has been relocated from the Outer Hebrides to Cornwall and the dates have been shifted from 1900 to 1970, but the basic conditions are the same: three vanished lighthouse keepers, a door locked from the I’ve always been fascinated by the disappearance of the Flannan Isles Lighthouse Keepers and I’ve set it as a creative prompt for several children’s writing groups, so when I heard about this book inspired by those events, I was excited to see what the author made of the disappearances. The story has been relocated from the Outer Hebrides to Cornwall and the dates have been shifted from 1900 to 1970, but the basic conditions are the same: three vanished lighthouse keepers, a door locked from the inside, stopped clocks and strange entries in the logbook. The life of a lighthouse keeper is a desolate existence and the book beautifully evokes a sense of alienation and loneliness. Each of the three men; Arthur, William and Vincent; have their own reasons for choosing this life, which are gradually revealed as the events leading up to their disappearance are explored. Each of their stories present a possible solution to the mystery. In a parallel timeline, twenty years later, a writer approaches the three women left behind in attempt to get them to tell their stories and perhaps shed some light on the disappearances. I loved the fact that this was the women’s story as much as the men’s—as much as they try to break away from the past and each other, a satisfyingly convoluted web of tension, deception and secrets ties them together. The experience of reading ‘The Lamplighters’ reminded me of reading Joan Lindsay’s ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’—a bewildering attempt to find a logical solution in a haunting, slightly mystical environment and an atmosphere of fear and suspicion. In the end (unlike in Picnic at Hanging Rock) a suitably satisfying solution does present itself, though a window of possibility is left open for the reader to make up their own mind about what happened to the lighthouse keepers. I thoroughly enjoyed this atmospheric and richly imagined story.

  25. 5 out of 5

    JK

    Three men on a lighthouse one day, none the next. The door is locked from the inside, the clocks are stopped, the dinner table is set, but no one is inside. It’s a wonderfully eerie premise, and one which becomes all the more unsettling when you find out it’s a true story. The novel flicks backwards and forwards between time and narrative. At times we focus on the lives of the three lighthouse keepers in 1972, their daily jobs, their shifts, their feelings of isolation and worry. At others, we ju Three men on a lighthouse one day, none the next. The door is locked from the inside, the clocks are stopped, the dinner table is set, but no one is inside. It’s a wonderfully eerie premise, and one which becomes all the more unsettling when you find out it’s a true story. The novel flicks backwards and forwards between time and narrative. At times we focus on the lives of the three lighthouse keepers in 1972, their daily jobs, their shifts, their feelings of isolation and worry. At others, we jump forward twenty years, and hear the stories of the women they left behind. Stonex does well to differentiate these voices, with the male sections being very efficient and matter of fact, and the female voices being full of emotion, hurt and longing. In fact, Stonex’s writing skill is in no doubt here. Full of atmosphere and intensity, her depictions of the Cornish coast to the lighthouse itself brought a saltwater taste to my tongue. Her characterisations were raw and real, and she has a particular mastery in creating tension from the simplest of scenarios. There was never a clear conclusion reached on how these men went missing, however this was something I welcomed. As Stonex has based her novel on a true story, it perhaps wouldn’t be fitting to invent a definite reason, and to allow the question mark to remain. She did, however, toy with some supernatural elements in her attempt to present a possibility, and these were something which I felt didn’t quite suit the other, very real, aspects of the plot. Although the ambiguity was no doubt intended, I was confused and unsure what it all meant. Although the mystery of what happened to these men is really what we’re here for, the skill we see in The Lamplighters is not in the discovery of secrets, or the solving of puzzles. Rather, we’re taken into a world most of us know little about, and we see how a lighthouse can affect relationships, feelings, and mental states. The exploration of this was wonderful, and I loved seeing both how the men dealt with their incredibly isolated jobs, and in contrast how the women dealt with their own isolation after their husbands disappeared. It was rich with sensation, and carefully crafted to allow us to understand how we all handle grief differently. A stunning debut, and one which will creep into your heart, The Lamplighters will suck you into its depths.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    The Lamplighters is a richly-atmospheric and stunning historical mystery inspired by a haunting true story, a gorgeous and atmospheric novel about the mysterious disappearance of three lighthouse keepers from a remote tower miles from the Cornish coast—and about the wives who were left behind. What strange fate befell these doomed men? The heavy sea whispers their names. Black rocks roll beneath the surface, drowning ghosts. And out of the swell like a finger of light, the salt-scratched tower s The Lamplighters is a richly-atmospheric and stunning historical mystery inspired by a haunting true story, a gorgeous and atmospheric novel about the mysterious disappearance of three lighthouse keepers from a remote tower miles from the Cornish coast—and about the wives who were left behind. What strange fate befell these doomed men? The heavy sea whispers their names. Black rocks roll beneath the surface, drowning ghosts. And out of the swell like a finger of light, the salt-scratched tower stands lonely and magnificent. It's New Year's Eve, 1972, when a boat pulls up to the Maiden Rock lighthouse with relief for the keepers. But no one greets them. When the entrance door, locked from the inside, is battered down, rescuers find an empty tower. A table is laid for a meal not eaten. The Principal Keeper's weather log describes a storm raging round the tower, but the skies have been clear all week. And the clocks have all stopped at 8:45. Two decades later, the wives who were left behind are visited by a writer who is determined to find the truth about the men's disappearance. Moving between the women's stories and the men's last weeks together in the lighthouse, long-held secrets surface and truths twist into lies as we piece together what happened, why, and who to believe. This is nothing short of a spectacular debut with an unforgettable mystery at its heart and written in some of the most exquisite prose I've encountered in a while. The mystery is a refreshingly original one and I found it impossible not to be swept up in its rich descriptions, the slow-burn unravelling of secrets and the exceptional characterisation; quite simply I was blown away by every aspect of this book. Told from the perspectives of the three wives whose husbands vanished never to be seen again, I was profoundly moved by the impact this mystery had on their lives, hopes and dreams for the future. Emma Stonex writes beautifully about the majesty of the sea and the powerful tides of loneliness and grief. The central mystery is utterly compelling, deepening and darkening as each lighthouse keeper’s secrets are revealed. Intoxicating, suspenseful and deeply moving, it’s an beguiling story of isolation, love, betrayal and obsession. This undoubtedy marks the beginning of a thrilling literary career. In this riveting and suspenseful novel, Emma Stonex writes a story of isolation and obsession, of reality and illusion, and of what it takes to keep the light burning when all else is swallowed by dark. I cannot recommend this highly enough.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    This is an enigmatic and mysterious tale (based on a true story), which has the most stunning setting - an exposed and remote light tower off the Cornish coast. The men who disappeared form one part of the story while the plight of the women they left behind forms another, as they tell their stories years later to an author of fiction set at sea. It's just as interesting to watch the uneasy relationship between the women as it is the men. I listened to the audiobook and fittingly the men's voice This is an enigmatic and mysterious tale (based on a true story), which has the most stunning setting - an exposed and remote light tower off the Cornish coast. The men who disappeared form one part of the story while the plight of the women they left behind forms another, as they tell their stories years later to an author of fiction set at sea. It's just as interesting to watch the uneasy relationship between the women as it is the men. I listened to the audiobook and fittingly the men's voices and women's voices had different narrators. However, I couldn't get to grips with the style of the women's sections, with the women talking aloud, as if in a one-sided conversation. I think this might work better in a different format, and so I did struggle while still admiring the other side of the novel and the wonderful setting.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    There's a lot to like about this but the ending really let it down. 3.5 stars. There's a lot to like about this but the ending really let it down. 3.5 stars.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Neale

    My review is published in the March edition of goodreading magazine under my real name.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jules

    A truly intriguing read, I was gripped from start to finish. I had an idea in my head of how this story would end & I got it completely wrong! Told in a unique way, jumping from past to present, I loved that it held on to its secrets right up until the breathtaking conclusion. Loved it!

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