The Lighthouse Witches by CJ Cooke is an interesting horror fantasy combination. Two sisters have gone missing on an island, and 20 years later, one is found looking exactly like she when she disappeared.
All quotes are from an advanced reader copy, and may or may not reflect the published copy.
When single mother Liv is commissioned to paint a mural in a 100-year-old lighthouse on a remote Scottish island, it’s an opportunity to start over with her three daughters–Luna, Sapphire, and Clover. When two of her daughters go missing, she’s frantic. She learns that the cave beneath the lighthouse was once a prison for women accused of witchcraft. The locals warn her about wildlings, supernatural beings who mimic human children, created by witches for revenge.
Liv is told wildlings are dangerous and must be killed.
Twenty-two years later, Luna has been searching for her missing sisters and mother. When she receives a call about her youngest sister, Clover, she’s initially ecstatic. Clover is the sister she remembers–except she’s still seven years old, the age she was when she vanished. Luna is worried Clover is a wildling. Luna has few memories of her time on the island, but she’ll have to return to find the truth of what happened to her family. But she doesn’t realize just how much the truth will change her.
“Three daughters. A Secluded Island. Secrets unearthed…”
Cooke has done an incredible job of combining many concepts. From witch trials to sci-fi, and adding in familial trauma and potential murder, this was a fun mixed bag. I really enjoyed the way all these things played out. The varying points of view, including from different time periods, were well thought out and well written. Honestly, even the incredibly frustrating way the women and children were written was comparable to reality.
“It only works if we hold hands.”
The reason this is not a five-star read was that the pacing felt off. As I mentioned above, there are many concepts being combined in this book. While it was well done, in order to get all the foundation clearly laid out, there were moments things were too slow for my liking. I also would have liked more development of the youngest sister during her return rather than what we initially got. It is a lot of information in a short amount of time. While Cooke managed to write a cohesive plot, I found myself wanting more development and more time.
“She imagines that this is what it must feel like to be impaled. She crumbles the dry leaf in her palm, turning it to fragments.”
Overall, I enjoyed this book fully. While I wish the book had been a tad longer to allow for more development, it was still great. If you like witch trials, paranormal things, and creepy children, this book is something you should check out. It’s easy to follow, and the ending left me pretty satisfied.
“Already I can smell the fire. I do not fear it.”
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.