The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex: Review

The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex

The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex


The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex is the debut novel from the former publishing house editor. The book is inspired by the real-life disappearance of three lighthouse keepers from a Cornish tower. They disappeared without a trace, the tower was locked from the inside and two clocks had stopped at exactly the same time.  Learn more about those events now.




1971-1972 – Three lighthouse keepers man a tower close to Land’s End. Their shift isn’t unusual; they carry out their routines as normal. However, when the next crew arrives to take over, the tower is empty. Plates are on the table, their possessions are all still there, but the men are nowhere to be found.


1992 – Twenty years after the disappearance of the lighthouse keepers, a bestselling fiction author decides to tell their story. He heads to the Cornish village to investigate but some are happier to see him than others.


The three men left behind wives and girlfriends; all of them scarred by their disappearance. Helen, Jenny and Michelle were thrown together but didn’t necessarily get along. While the men worked in the tower, they had their own lives to lead. They all hold their secrets tight, but some secrets can’t stay hidden forever.



The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex Review


The Lamplighters is an atmospheric genre-bending mix of mystery, historical drama and mystery. Although I’ve never had the opportunity to be at sea, I’ve always had a soft spot for novels based around the ocean. I really enjoyed this new angle of being so close to the water but with the added claustrophobia and isolation of not even being able to journey anywhere. Emma Stonex beautifully captures the type of skills and the personalities needed to cope in that environment.


The two timeframes are woven between each other so the reader is drip-fed information and details of the characters lives. Although it might appear that the men are the main characters from the blurb, I felt quite the opposite. It was the women’s stories that really grabbed my attention. It’s their chapters that expose the secrets and lies they all told to each other.



Final thoughts


The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex is a captivating and beautifully written novel. The background of it being inspired by a true story only adds to the intrigue. The slow-burning mystery is a secondary plot line to the women’s and their relationships with the men. At the heart of this book, is a story of loss and the consequences of when people are unable to talk. Haunting, atmospheric and sad, The Lamplighters is a beautiful novel and I truly hope there’s more to come from Emma Stonex.



If you like The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex, you’d love The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermott.


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