Upon the cliffs of a remote Scottish island, Lòn Haven, stands a lighthouse.
A lighthouse that has weathered more than storms.

Mysterious and terrible events have happened on this island. It started with a witch hunt. Now, centuries later, islanders are vanishing without explanation. Coincidence? Or curse?

#TheLighthouseWitches #blogtour @CJessCooke @annecater @RandomTTours #RandomThingsTours

Liv Stay flees to the island with her three daughters, in search of a home. She doesn’t believe in witches, or dark omens, or hauntings. But within months, her daughter Luna will be the only one of them left.

Twenty years later, Luna is drawn back to the place her family vanished. As the last sister left, it’s up to her to find out the truth . . . But what really happened at the lighthouse all those years ago?

My Review

As soon as I read the blurb about Luna finding her sister Clover many years later, except she hadn’t aged at all in over 20 years, I was immediately reminded of a book called Some Kind of Fairytale by the late, great Graham Joyce. It’s a remarkable work of speculative fiction / magical realism and I prayed that The Lighthouse Witches would enthral me in the same way. It was quite an ask.

First of all let me say that this is a very different beast. In addition to Clover’s return, we have the disappearance of her other sister Saffy and their mum Liv. We have witchcraft and the burning of witches some 400 years prior to the current story, which incidentally is set in two more timelines – 1998 when the whole family apart from Luna disappeared (told from Liv’s point of view) and ‘now’, 22 years later, when Luna and Clover are reunited (told in the third person).

We start in 1998 when Liv is hired by a strange, remote man called Patrick Roberts, who wants her to paint the inside of a derelict lighthouse known as the Longing (great name for a book) with runes and diagrams, but also to add some artistic touches of her own. She will stay in the bothy close by, with her three daughters Saffy, Luna and Clover.

I really didn’t like Liv to start with and I didn’t like Saffy much either (though I can almost forgive the latter’s surliness as she’s only 15). Once I understood more about the history and superstitions of the remote Scottish island, Lòn Haven, where they are staying, I began to warm to them both. The story is more complicated and certainly much darker than I expected and be prepared for some quite horrific events.

The origins of Lòn Haven (the island itself is fictitious) revolve around some of the worst witch trials and burnings of the late 16th and early 17th centuries in Scotland, when it was believed that places could be cursed by witches and all the terrible storms, plagues and deaths that occurred were related to these curses. But perhaps even stranger than this was the belief that when children disappeared, they were returned as ‘wildlings’ and should be destroyed. And so we have the basis for this unique and haunting story. Part Gothic horror, part mythology and part the strength of love, you won’t be able to put this down.

Many thanks to @annecater for inviting me to be part of #RandomThingsTours.

About the Author

C.J. Cooke is an acclaimed, award-winning poet, novelist and academic with numerous other publications written under the name of Carolyn Jess-Cooke. Her work has been published in 23 languages to date. Born in Belfast, C.J. has a PhD in Literature from Queen’s University, Belfast, and is currently Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, where she researches creative writing interventions for mental health. C.J. Cooke lives in Glasgow with her husband and four children. She also founded the Stay-At-Home Festival.

1 Comment on “The Lighthouse Witches by CJ Cooke

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