The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex – Editorial Review

This mystery is inspired by a real event though the book itself is fictional. The tale revolves round the lives of three lighthouse keepers and those of their partners back on land. It delves into the psychology of both and effectively depicts what it was like to be a lighthouse keeper and how it feels to be left behind for weeks and months on end. The author has certainly researched the subject well. Her understanding of the constraints, psychology, and emotions evoked are consistently evident. In addition the nature of the sea with its wayward, wild, unpredictable, and dramatic ways, is clearly portrayed. Indeed the reader may sometimes feel they are in the midst of the storm and crashing, towering, waves.

The writing style is different to most books and though it provides detailed insight and analysis of the events and conditions it does not really draw the reader in. If anything they will feel a spectator waiting to see the ultimate outcome. However, this is an interesting read for anyone who wishes to know what the life of a lighthouse keeper was like and to that end may be seen as a historic account. Nevertheless, it sometimes becomes a little tedious as it dives into the intricacies of the characters thoughts and considerations, especially when they do not appear to have any relevance to the story. It is not until almost half way through, when the ethos of the tale starts to formulate, the reader may start to feel engaged. The unfolding is rather slow which in some tales may have its place but does not really work for this one.

As the mystery is revealed there is an element of the supernatural that surprisingly fits. Loss and betrayal are also present. It is an evocative tale but overall, despite the premise encouraged in the description (referred to as the blurb by many), does not really fulfil expectations. Nevertheless, as already outlined, there is considerable insight which is of its own interesting. The author’s research has certainly been far reaching and thorough, as may be seen from the acknowledgments listed at the end of the book.

Readers must decide for themselves whether the climax provides a satisfying conclusion to this mystery and perhaps to that of the real event upon which this book is based.

The book will be published by Pan Macmillan on 4 March 2021. It is currently available for pre-order from the following retailers:

Pan Macmillan


The edition read was obtained by the kind generosity of the author and publisher from NetGalley.

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