Summary and book reviews of The Lightkeepers by Abby Geni

The Lightkeepers

by Abby Geni

The Lightkeepers by Abby Geni
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2016, 340 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2017, 340 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Megan Shaffer

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About this Book

Book Summary

A debut novel from a talented and provocative new writer which upends the traditional structure of a mystery novel while also exploring wider themes of the natural world, the power of loss, and the nature of recovery.

In The Lightkeepers, we follow Miranda, a nature photographer who travels to the Farallon Islands, an exotic and dangerous archipelago off the coast of California, for a one-year residency capturing the landscape. Her only companions are the scientists studying there, odd and quirky refugees from the mainland living in rustic conditions; they document the fish populations around the island, the bold trio of sharks called the Sisters that hunt the surrounding waters, and the overwhelming bird population who, at times, create the need to wear hard hats as protection from their attacks.

Shortly after her arrival, Miranda is assaulted by one of the inhabitants of the islands. A few days later, her assailant is found dead, perhaps the result of an accident. As the novel unfolds, Miranda gives witness to the natural wonders of this special place as she grapples with what has happened to her and deepens her connection (and her suspicions) to her companions, while falling under the thrall of the legends of the place nicknamed "the Islands of the Dead." And when more violence occurs, each member of this strange community falls under suspicion.

The Lightkeepers upends the traditional structure of a mystery novel - an isolated environment, a limited group of characters who might not be trustworthy, a death that may or may not have been accidental, a balance of discovery and action - while also exploring wider themes of the natural world, the power of loss, and the nature of recovery. It is a luminous debut novel from a talented and provocative new writer.

Excerpt
The Lightkeepers



I will never forget the first moments of my arrival. The Farallon Islands were not what I had been expecting. They were both smaller and stranger than I had pictured. A tiny, aquatic mountain range. It looked as though a single, powerful wave could wash the whole thing away. I stood on board the deck of the ferry. Waves smacked the hull while Captain Joe dropped anchor. The dizzy horizon danced as the boat swayed. I shaded my eyes with a hand, staring up at my new home.

Long ago, this place had been called the Islands of the Dead. Now I could see why. Southeast Farallon was less than one square mile across. The other islets were bare, bald, and broken. There were no sandy beaches. The shores were streaked with seaweed, the peaks fragmented and craggy. The islands were arranged by height, like wedding guests in a snapshot. There was a crudeness about their contours. God might have made the world, but he seemed to have deputized his underage stepson to fashion ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The Lightkeepers is an easy recommendation for readers of all genres. The excitement of the novel lies in its undercurrent of suspicion. Each character is just complicated enough, each excursion just dangerous enough, and each passage just suspicious enough to keep the reader on edge and guessing until the last page.   (Reviewed by Megan Shaffer).

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Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Starred/Boxed Review. This is a haunting and immersive adventure, set in an unforgettable, wild habitat of its own.

Booklist

Starred Review. As the plot turns violent and suspenseful, and the mesmerizingly vivid descriptions reach shivery crescendos of shocking revelations, Geni dramatically meshes the grand, menacing power of the ruthless wild with the mysteries and aberrations of the equally untamed human psyche

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. Natural wildness, human unpredictability, and the subtle use of literary devices are woven here into a remarkable, vertiginous web.

Author Blurb Rebecca Makkai, author of The Hundred-Year House
The Lightkeepers is a stunner: intense, surefooted, masterful. This is a book to swallow whole.

Author Blurb Cristina Henriquez, author of The Book of Unknown Americans
What a strange, wonderful novel this is. At once a soaring paean to the natural world and a story filled with mystery and intrigue as deep and dark as the sea. The Lightkeepers is mesmerizing.

Author Blurb Gina Frangello, author of A Life in Men
Part ghost story, part murder mystery, part meditation on the cruel impartiality of nature, The Lightkeepers holds the reader enthralled in the grasp of an achingly vulnerable, creepingly unreliable narrator.

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Beyond the Book

The Farallon Islands

The Lightkeepers is set on the Farallon Islands, which are officially part of the city of San Francisco. Even though they are located just about thirty miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge, the islands are quite remote. "There is nowhere more alone than the Farallon Islands," Geni writes in The Lightkeepers, "The rest of the world might disappear — the human race wiped out by a pandemic, a meteor strike, a zombie uprising — and we would be the last to know anything about it."

Consisting of a group of rocky outcrops, the Farallon or Farallones (derived from the Spanish, farallon, meaning pillar or "sea cliff") are a remote resting and breeding site for an incredibly diverse species of wildlife. Seabirds, seals, sharks, bats ...

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