I have to start with the cover. The colour is beautiful and the design itself grew in meaning the further I read into the story. But, unless of course it was just my copy, or my imagination, the cover feels slightly as though it has been near the sea…
The story follows apprentice lighthouseman James Meakes who, in 1870, joins two other lighthouse keepers on an offshore rock.
Immediately it becomes apparent that not all is well between the two existing keepers – their relations seem fractured and cold amid endless rules and regulations which must be steadfastly observed.
It is easy to feel sympathy for Meakes who was orphaned at a young age and lived with his uncle in a house for ‘eccentrics and those of a nervous disposition’ he has witnessed much in his short life.
Matt Stanley cleverly creates a world like no other within the confines of the lighthouse and found myself gently drawn into the story and the inevitable madness that descends upon its inhabitants.
The contrast presented by the opulent splendour of the Commissioner’s room and the richness of the library jar somewhat against the brutal, uncomforting and frugal living areas allowed for the lighthousemen themselves.
My favourite room was of course the library and all its literary inhabitants – the thought of being in the other rooms (let alone the relentless, pointless toil of the cleaning) would, I am sure, have sent me swiftly into madness.
This is a story as dark as it is beautiful and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Book Blurb: 1870. Apprentice lighthouseman James Meakes joins two others at the remote offshore rock of Ripshaw Reef – replacement for a keeper whose death there remains unexplained. Meakes’ suspicions grow as he accustoms himself to his new vertical world. He finds clues, obscure messages and signs that a fourth occupant may be sharing the space, slipping unseen between staircases.
With winter approaching, the keepers become isolated utterly from shore. Sea and wind rage against the tower. Danger is part of the life. Death is not uncommon. And yet as the storm builds, the elements pale against a threat more wild and terrifying than any of them could have imagined.