Superbly written Gothic fiction... The Lamplighter by Crystal J. Bell (Review) #TheLampLighter #TBRBeyondTours #CrystalJBell #newbooks #bookx #yalit #yabooks #gothic @tbrbeyondtours

Welcome to my tour stop! If you're a Gothic or historical fiction fan who doesn't mind a
touch of the macabre, then this is definitely a book to pick up. Read my full review below...

The Lamplighter
By Crystal J. Bell
YA Historical Fiction, Gothic Horror, Fantasy
Paperback & eBook, 304 Pages
May 20, 2024 by North Star Editions


It’s an honor to bring light to the dark.

The whaling village of Warbler is famous for its lucky ship figureheads—and infamous for people disappearing into the nightly fog. In this murky locale, the lamplighter position is synonymous with safety and protection, and it’s a position Temperance assumes when her father is found hanging from one of the lampposts. Though Tempe proves competent, the town is still hesitant to let a woman handle this responsibility.

When a girl goes missing after two lamps go out, Tempe’s ability to provide for her mother and younger sister hangs in the balance. She scrambles for answers, hindered at every turn by the village authorities’ call for her removal. As more villagers vanish under her watch, Tempe discovers unsettling truths about the famous Warbler figureheads and her own beloved father. But her warnings of a monster are ignored, even by her own family. Now she must follow the light out of her own fog of despair, as she faces the choice to look the other way or risk speaking out and possibly dooming herself and her sister to be among the lost.

Content Warning: Murder, death of a parent

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My Review

THE LAMPLIGHTER is an eerie Gothic story about a girl who lights the lamps of her small town to help keep the townspeople safe from getting lost in the fog that creeps in each night. It's her family heritage and provides a living for her mother and sister. She must fight to maintain her position as a woman and especially when danger threatens all she holds dear. A story of family, grief, resilience, love and survival masterfully woven that will hold readers' attention from beginning to end. Definitely recommended for Gothic fans who like a touch of other in their stories. 

I feel like I wasn't quite prepared to enter this world and face the feeling of eeriness. It's full of danger, uncertainty, and secrets. The author did a fantastic job of immersing readers into this mysterious story where you're not quite sure what is real and what to trust. The story is set in this small whaling town with its superstitions and prejudices, but also its friendships and loyalties. I could feel the distrust and danger as well as almost the physical touch of the fog when it creeps in. It's a bit chilling and that emotional undertone continues to drive the story to the very end. It's very intense, but also broken here and there with moments of sweetness between sisters and love interests. There is a strong main character in Tempe (short for Temperance). Sometimes she is overly dramatic and acts out of fear with dire consequences, which can be frustrating as a reader. At the same time, she pulled me right into her world and all her emotions. I felt her fear, her distrust, her longing, her protectiveness, her heart and her fight. The story also brought to the front different themes from the time period that women and small towns faced, allowing thought without being told what to think. I applaud the author for handling these themes so well. I wouldn't mind a second installment to see how everything unfolds after this story ends.

In the end, was it what I wished for? This was an engrossing read that will keep readers turning the pages. By the end, I was on the edge of my seat, equally distraught and hopeful. It's superbly written Gothic fiction. I'll definitely be picking up this author's next release! 

Content: Inuendo, assault, murder, violence and some descriptive horror elements.
Source: I received a complimentary copy through TBR and Beyond Tours, which did not require a positive review. All opinions are my own.

About the Author

Crystal J. Bell is a Colorado native who writes horror and fantasy with the intent to make readers both eager and uneasy to turn the pages of her books. When she isn’t drinking up autumn like the elixir of life, she can be found on the back patio with her laptop and a book, out on the reservoirs on her stand up paddle board, or cooking in the kitchen with her husband. Most likely pasta.

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What do you think? Does this sound like a book you'd enjoy? Do you have a favorite Gothic book?

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