Book Review: The Lighthouse

Fran Dorricott

Rating: 4 out of 5.

published: 3rd February 2022
spoilers? no


No one expected them to go there. The question is: will any of them leave?

Six friends travel to a remote island north of the Scottish Highlands for an old school reunion. They’ve rented The Lighthouse – a stunning, now abandoned building that was once notorious for deaths at sea.

On the first evening, someone goes missing. The group search all through the night to no avail. But when the five remaining friends return to the lighthouse early the next morning, they are shocked to find James inside. He’s looks terrified – but won’t say a word about where he’s been.

The party vow to put the strange night behind them and enjoy the rest of their stay, but when more unexplained things begin to occur, tensions escalate. It’s clear James knows something, but nothing will persuade him to give up the secrets of the island. Is he protecting his friends from a terrible truth, or leading them into more danger?

A chilling, gripping and powerfully atmospheric suspense novel with a gothic edge.

Galley provided by publisher

The Lighthouse has been one of my most anticipated releases of 2022 from about the moment I knew about it. Fran Dorricott’s books have been consistently among my favourites and it’s got to the point that, no matter what she writes, I will be there reading it.

In a bit of a departure from her previous thrillers, the book doesn’t start with a crime. Or, at least, not that we know of. Instead, it starts with the arrival of a group of friends on the island, to stay at the lighthouse-slash-cottage-next-door for the weekend. Everything seems idyllic, in terms of location at least. But tensions simmer and friendships are perhaps a little more fractured than they were at the start, and none of this is helped by the disappearance of one of their party on the first night.

The atmosphere throughout the book, the tension and the fear, is almost palpable. It’s a thriller of the best sort in that it’s genuinely thrilling. Once I’d got into the book, I didn’t want to put it down. It had me on the edge of my seat throughout, because I had no idea where the plot would go next.

You also have, on top of this, a group of characters who, on the surface, seem like the kind of people who have what they want in life, who are right where they ought to be. But then they’re put under the kind of stress as in this book and it all comes spiralling out. It’s compelling and makes for a very fun read (in one sense). They all have secrets and you can’t help but want to know them.

The only thing I would say, that stopped me giving this 5 stars perhaps, was that it felt like the opening to something. As in, the events of the book felt like a catalyst, you might have expected them to be as such in any other book. This is the secret they must now keep, which precipitates the fracturing of their friendship. I’m not saying this was a bad thing, but more possibly it’s not what I expected. I’m sure, if I reread this book with that knowledge in mind, my thoughts on that part would change.

Overall though, The Lighthouse more than lived up to my expectations, and definitely cements Fran Dorricott as one of my favourite authors.

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