Thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Books for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: October 5th, 2021
Synopsis: Two sisters go missing on a remote Scottish island. Twenty years later, one is found–but she’s still the same age as when she disappeared. The secrets of witches have reached across the centuries in this chilling Gothic thriller from the author of the acclaimed The Nesting.
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. (Goodreads)
The Lighthouse Witches is the first book I’ve read by C.J. Cooke, but it certainly won’t be the last! Gaelic and Nordic mythology and other elements that I’m not going to name for fear of spoilers, are splendidly woven with Scottish history and witch hunts, and it had me utterly enthralled from the very beginning and wouldn’t let go.
There are three timelines involved: 1662 from a grimoire which provides key historical details that directly tie into the other timelines; 1998 which is from Liv’s POV and shows the events that unfold after she and her three daughters arrive on Lòn Haven; and 2021 which is Luna’s, the middle daughter’s POV, as she struggles with the trauma of what happened twenty-two years ago, as well as the new, frightening occurrences that are bringing the past to life. The characters are so realistically portrayed that I half expected them to walk off the page. They’re flawed, yet still sympathetic, and even when one of them commits a certain horrific act, (yes I’m being deliberately vague), I could understand the desperation behind what was done.
Cooke’s writing is evocative, haunting, and beautifully detailed which helps bring the eerie Scottish isle of Lòn Haven alive. As for the plot, well, let me say to say that the word twisty doesn’t even begin to describe the different directions it takes. The final twist caught me completely by surprise but explained everything so perfectly I thought it was brilliant! The ending is bittersweet and poignant, yet brings everything and everyone full circle.
Honestly, I really can’t sing the praises of The Lighthouse Witches loudly enough. It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year, and as it’s been a banner year for fantastic reads, that’s really saying something. I recommend this for anyone who’s looking for some truly wonderful storytelling that will temporarily sweep them away.