Title: The Lighthouse Witches
Author: C.J. Cooke
Genre: Thriller, Horror, Paranormal
First published: September 30th 2021
Publisher: HarperCollins
Finished reading: October 5th 2021
Pages: 424

“Forgiveness is a kind of time travel, only better, because it sutures the wounds of the past with the wisdom of the present in the same moment as it promises a better future.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I loved my time with The Nesting last year, so deciding whether to read her newest gothic story The Lighthouse Witches was very easy indeed. There was just something about the blurb of this story that spoke to me immediately… The Scottish setting, the hint at the supernatural/folklore with the wildlings, the history of witches on the island; all elements that held a lot of promise of turning The Lighthouse Witches into a success. And while the pace did turn out to be considerably slower than expected and it wasn’t as scary as I hoped it would be, as a whole this gothic thriller is still well worth your time.

The first thing that stands out is the setting on a remote Scottish island. The descriptions really make this setting come alive and I loved just how important the setting was throughout the story. Directly relating to the setting itself is the history and folklore woven into the plot, with the mention of the Scottish witch trials, mentions of the wildlings and the hint at the supernatural in general. This was definitely what made this story a success for me and it’s without doubt one of its strongest features. I would have loved to have an even stronger focus on the supernatural, but as it is I still found it to be satisfying.

The story uses a multiple POV structure as well as different moments in time to tell the story. We have 1998 where Liv and her children first visit the island as she is commissioned to paint the lighthouse. Then we have 2021 where her daughter Luna is all grown up and still searching for her missing mother and sisters after all those years… And on top of this, we have glimpses at the distant past with Patrick’s voice in the grimoire fragments. The POV switches help create an atmosphere of intrigue and suspense, since you don’t have the full picture of what is going on for a very long time.

It’s hard to put The Lighthouse Witches into a neat little genre box, as it has hints of domestic/psychological thriller, historical fiction, horror, supernatural as well as fantasy. I always like it when a story refuses to be put inside a box, and while I did expect the story to be darker and scarier than it turned out to be, I still applaude it for its originality. I think that the fact that I didn’t rate it the full 5 stars is mostly due to my issues with slower paced and more domestic/psychological thrillers; especially the parts that focused on the issues of Liv’s daughter Saffie and daily life in general just didn’t work for me personally, but that doesn’t mean that they weren’t well written or didn’t fit the rest of the plot.

As a whole, I can confirm that The Lighthouse Witches is another excellent story with a gothic vibe and a hint at the supernatural that will keep you invested until the very end. C.J. Cooke writes in a way that will draw you in and her atmospheric descriptions are the perfect backdrop for this eerie story.


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