After a whirlwind week in the UK that saw Emma Stonex’s The Lamplighters hitting No. 5 on the Times bestseller list just a few days after publication, this exquisite literary debut novel about three lighthouse keepers who go missing off the coast of Cornwall is published in the US today in hardback by Penguin Random House / Viking.
This haunting novel based on a mysterious true story has gone from strength to strength since the very beginning. Stonex’s manuscript was snapped up by Penguin Random House after a multi-publisher auction, with Canadian rights going to HarperCollins Canada and UK rights sold to Pan Macmillan / Picador in the UK at auction. International rights have since sold into a further whopping 22 territories.
This highly anticipated novel has received an overwhelming amount of press attention, with USA Today touting it as one of ‘5 books not to miss‘ and Apple calling it one of the ‘best books of March‘, reviewing it as ‘one of the creepiest and most unshakeable mystery novels we’ve read in awhile.’ It was also featured in the Guardian’s roundup of ‘fiction to look out for in 2021‘, iNews’ ‘75 of the best books for 2021‘, and Emma herself was interviewed on BBC Radio 4. Recently, Emma wrote a piece for Bookbrunch about her journey to writing The Lamplighters, suitably called ‘The sea in my bones’. You can read her reflections here. In addition to this press attention, The Lamplighters has received nothing but praise in reviews:
‘Stonex’s spectacular debut wraps a haunting mystery in precise, starkly beautiful prose…Seamlessly marrying quotidian detail with ghostly touches, the author captures both the lighthouse’s lure and the damage its isolation and confinement wreak on minds and families. The convincing resolution brings a welcome note of healing. Readers will eagerly await Stonex’s next.’ Publisher’s Weekly, starred review
‘Beautiful, absorbing and utterly riveting.’ Rosie Walsh, author of Ghosted
‘A remarkable book, through every page, every character, the writing resonates with the dark, powerful presence of the sea.’ Raynor Winn, author of The Salt Path
‘Stonex’s unique tale juxtaposes oddly compelling reality—the daily challenges of being a lighthouse keeper for the men and their families—against a series of strange, poignant, near-mystical happenings that will pull readers in and keep them mesmerized right to the end.’ —Booklist
We can’t wait for readers around the world to step into this mysterious tale…
What strange fate befell these doomed men? The heavy sea whispers their names. Black rocks roll beneath the surface, drowning ghosts. And out of the swell like a finger of light, the salt-scratched tower stands lonely and magnificent.
It’s New Year’s Eve, 1972, when a boat pulls up to the Maiden Rock lighthouse with relief for the keepers. But no one greets them. When the entrance door, locked from the inside, is battered down, rescuers find an empty tower. A table is laid for a meal not eaten. The Principal Keeper’s weather log describes a storm raging round the tower, but the skies have been clear all week. And the clocks have all stopped at 8:45.
Two decades later, the wives who were left behind are visited by a writer who is determined to find the truth about the men’s disappearance. Moving between the women’s stories and the men’s last weeks together in the lighthouse, long-held secrets surface and truths twist into lies as we piece together what happened, why, and who to believe.
In her riveting and suspenseful novel, Emma Stonex writes a story of isolation and obsession, of reality and illusion, and of what it takes to keep the light burning when all else is swallowed by dark.
A huge congratulations on the publication of this gorgeous novel, Emma. We couldn’t be happier for you!