The Fiction Fox
Review: The Lighthouse Witches - C.J. Cooke
Genre: Fantasy, horror, mystery
Published: Harper Collins Publishing, October 1st 2021
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars
If you're still looking for your perfect October-witchy-read ór if you perhaps wanted a literary equivalent to the netflix show "Dark": look no further... You have found it. Witches, changelings, elements of Scottish folklore and a vividly spooky setting, all woven together seamlessly make Where The Lighthouse Witches my favourite Halloween release of 2021 so far.
Scotland, 1998. Liv, single mother of three daughters is commissioned to paint a mural in an abandoned lighthouse on a remote isle just off shore. What begins as an opportunity for a fresh start for her and her family soon takes an ominous turn. The lighthouse, as well as the cave-network below it, are saturated with dark history and sinister folktales: witches, curses and wildlings have left their mark on the place for centuries now. Any doubts on their validity are shattered when first her two young daughters, and then Liv herself, vanish without a trace.
Scottish shores, 2021. Luna has been looking for her sisters and mum for over twenty years. Then one day, she receives a call that her youngest sister has been found near the lighthouse where she disappeared. Only she hasn’t aged a day since she was last seen… Is this girl really her sister? Is she a changeling from the folktales Luna grew up with? In order to find out, she has to return to the lighthouse, to unearth the secrets that linger there once and for all.
Where The Lighthouse Witches has all the ingredients to make for my perfect Halloween-read, and mixes them together in its cauldron to become even more than the sum of its parts. Told in three timelines (the witch-hunt of 1662 that started it all, the vanishings of 1998, and “return” of 2021), this story sucked me into its mystery, its atmospheric setting and its Gothic imagery from page one, and kept me on the edge of my seat with anticipating and suspense throughout. Although I already enjoyed Cookes previous novel The Nesting, I feel they’ve grown so much as an author since. Where The Lighthouse Witches matches its predecessor in creepy atmosphere, it has has tighter and sharper prose, pitch perfect pacing and a much more vivid and likable cast of characters. It also incorporates some elements of different subgenres to elevate it above your “typical horror novel”.
Even though it’s still early in the month, this has to be my favourite Halloween release of the year so far, and I can’t recommend it enough. Where The Lighthouse Witches is available in print, as well as in audio-format, both of which I can highly recommend. For full immersion points, I suggest a dark room on a stormy night; letting the excellent narration and the Scottish accents carry you away to the foggy shores...
Many thanks to Harper Collins for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Find this book on Goodreads.