Review: The Lighthouse Witches by C.J. Cooke

This book is perhaps my biggest surprise pick of my reading year so far. Obviously, it interested me enough to request the ARC, but I’m just a little bit astonished at how much I loved it.

What it’s about

From the Goodreads description:

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.

My thoughts

First things first—the writing. I had never read this author before, but C.J. Cooke is not new to this, and it shows. She’s obviously a smart, talented writer and The Lighthouse Witches is beautifully written, well-researched, and thoroughly engaging. The descriptions of the Black Isle in Scotland and the delve into 17th century witch persecutions by way of a found grimoire/journal were enough to hook me, but the 1990s and current day storylines kept me flipping pages.

If you know me or are familiar with my taste in books, you may have noticed that I’m a sucker for historical fiction, multiple timelines, and more than one POV, and this book checks all of those boxes. I loved the characters of Liv and Luna especially, and the family love and struggle is heartbreaking and intense. There’s a whole almost-changeling situation going on for years on this remote Scottish highland coast and an element of magic that makes for excellent reading. Very gothic and atmospheric—truly a perfect autumn read for me.

I read most of the book as a digital ARC, but did supplement with the audiobook when I didn’t want to stop reading to do life stuff, and I can highly recommend the audio version. The four fantastic narrators really bring the characters to life, and the production is top notch.

Thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing for my copy in exchange for this honest review. I’m off to find more C.J. Cooke books to read now.


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