“I was asked to read a preview copy of Beneath the Lighthouse. I think the assumption is that because I write ‘horror stories’ I would have an idea of what I was talking about when reading a… horror novel. I get asked to do this a lot. Nowerdays, they are pretty much the same. They follow the latest trend and chase the same plot devices to death until one is undistinguishable from the next.
Oh… and there’s normally teenagers in ‘peril’.
Somewhere there’s always some spotty twonk, that’s never seen a horror film, wandering into a dark place, with no torch, calling out ‘Is anyone there?’ before getting a fake scare, prior to being killed.
I hate reading preview copies.
And then I was asked to read ‘Beneath the Lighthouse.’
I am rarely at a loss for words in reading someone’s writing. I normally have an idea what to say from the first few pages. It usually takes that long to gauge a writers’ style and the way they are going to take a story.
This is not a usual book.
There are no twonks in corridors here.
Beneath the Lighthouse grabs you by the nether regions from the word go. Then it squeezes. Hard. With a nailed glove.
You can view Beneath the Lighthouse on several levels. On one hand it is a truly scary ghost story… but not your typical tale. It has heart behind it so that you can empathise with all of the characters as they try to come to terms with the events around them. On another hand it is a powerful ‘coming of age’ drama. A young man growing into adulthood against a backdrop of despair and quite shocking abuse.
Oh… and it’s a damn good dramatic tale too. And a love story thrown in for good measure.
The question arises, how has Ms. Lynch pulled it off?
Simple. She has proven herself to be one Hell of a writer. Not just here, but with her other work too. Her characters are little more than pencil sketches in terms of description, but the way she writes about them breathes life into these line drawings and lifts them off the page and into that particular spot in the imagination where memory exists, making them diamond sharp. She gives the landscape of the lighthouse itself texture. You can feel the stones and concrete beneath your feet, the salt and spray in the air. And quite importantly for a horror story, you feel the dread and the underlying fear.
Beneath the Lighthouse is shocking at times. When you read a lot of horror, as I do, you can see certain formulae to a lot of modern writing. The worst being the Zombie tales where the writers are trying to recreate various versions of George Romero films or worse, The Resident Evil franchise.
Consequently, it’s hard to surprise me, let alone shock. Ms. Lynch has managed to do both with this book. But, ghosts aside, the most brutal shocks come from the family violence. It is unpredictable and ever building. Ms. Lynch has ignored the conventions and the formulae and simply told a tale.
And what a tale it is. Blood and bone revenge, retribution and salvation. The strength of friendship. The power of love. Oh… and for the record, there is nothing more romantic in this world than sharing a bag of chips with the object of your affections. That bit really hit the spot for an old cynic like me.
The scope covered in its pages is quite surprising. Yet most importantly, it’s a damn good read. The sort you can polish off in one sitting, but know that you’ll return to it again and again.
With Beneath the Lighthouse, Ms. Lynch has moved from being a gifted writer into being a gifted story teller. And that’s one Hell of a thing to be.”