Tuesday, October 5, 2021

The Lighthouse Witches by C. J. Cooke

Happiest of Book Birthdays to C. J. Cooke! Her latest, The Lighthouse Witches is out today from Berkley and it is the absolute perfect fall read!

1998: Liv has been commissioned to paint a mural in a lighthouse located on a remote island in Scotland. 

She's been raising her daughters alone since the death of her husband a few years ago, and money has been tight. To say the least. Which is why the commission has come at the perfect time. Not only does it pay, but it comes with room and board for the duration of the project. 

As soon as they arrive on Lon Haven, Liv's oldest daughter, Saffy, dives into the island's odd lore thanks to a book she's found in their new home. The book outlines witch trials held on the island in the seventeenth century. But it also contains so much more...

2021: Luna has never given up hope that her mother and her two sisters will be found. But it is a shock when she receives a call saying that the youngest, Clover, has been located. Even more shocking is the fact that Clover hasn't aged a day in the two decades she's been missing. 

Luna has never returned to the island of Lon Haven in all these years. She also doesn't remember exactly what happened on her final days there—when her sisters and her mother disappeared. Now she'll have to return if she's ever to understand what's happened—and still happening—to her family. 

But on an island so steeped in folklore and mythology, where witchcraft still has a significant foothold, Luna will find herself in danger of falling prey to old beliefs!

The Lighthouse Witches is a perfect blend of supernatural and suspense! I loved every last bit of it!

First of all, the island the book is set on is fiction. BUT the witch trials that took place pretty much everywhere were particularly horrendous in Scotland. In fact, according to ye olde wikipedia, there were no less than 5 separate witch hunts that took place in the country. 


Witch lore is probably most fascinating because it's one of many pieces of history that plagues women in particular. Got a neighbor you don't like—point that finger and say the magic word! Want a particular piece of property? Feel like you've been wronged somehow? Thing your husband is having an affair?...And while the victims weren't exclusively women, the majority very much were. 

(This is not meant to be glib in any way, but I'm not an expert on the history and there are TONS of resources available.)

The setting for Cooke's latest is an island that still very much holds onto their old beliefs. And in addition to witches in particular, this island has a strong and long-held belief in wildlings (you may have heard them called changelings). 

So here comes a mom and her three daughters, plopped down in a setting that's super insular, super superstitious, and, as we soon come to learn, kind of under the thumb of a particular family as well. 

And the lighthouse Liv's been commissioned to paint? It's owned by an eccentric millionaire who is never around. Oh, and it sits on the very site where witches were burned over three centuries ago. 

And that's just half of the story. Present day, an adult Luna has her own struggles. She's pregnant and not certain she wants to be married (which her partner views as the end rather than an understanding of her complicated past—no thanks to the fact that she doesn't adequately communicate that to him!). 

She's a child therapist, though, which means that she should be perfectly suited to take young Clover under her wing. Except that it makes no sense that Clover is still a child!

Each of the women in this book are so well drawn. I loved Liv and felt her pain as a single mother. I loved Luna and also felt her pain as an orphaned woman trying to start her own family. Saffy, the snarky teen trying to find her way in the world reminded me of those awkward teenage years and how awful they could feel. 

There's one final woman who plays a big role in the book, but we don't actually get her perspective. Amy, who lives during the trials themselves, is only really seen through the eyes of the man who loves her. And it's their story that Saffy finds in the lighthouse bothy in 1998. 

The Lighthouse Witches is out now! I highly, highly recommend this one and hope you'll all run out and buy a copy! It's an excellent anytime read, but it's especially perfect for fall (part of it takes place at Halloween!).

This is going down as one of my favorite books of 2021!

Order a copy from your favorite indie via Bookshop

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