Sunday, June 10, 2007

Pharos, by Alice Thompson

(hb; 2002)

From the inside flap:

“Set in the nineteenth century…a young woman is washed up on the shores of Jacob’s Rock, a remote lighthouse island off the coast of Scotland. She does not know who she is or how she got there. She has no memory. The keeper of the lighthouse and his assistant take her in and feed and clothe her. But this mysterious woman is not all that she seems, and neither is the remote and windswept island.

“Eerily reminiscent of Turn of the Screw and The Others, Pharos is a breathless tale of the supernatural.”


Understated and poetic, this seemingly simple, short novel draws the reader in with its sublime writing, memorable imagery and stark characterizations.

The novel’s only fault: the ending’s too understated and pat. The tension, subtly rendered, never culminates in a satisfactory fashion. That said, the ending fits what precedes it, tone-wise.

Not perfect, but a great, effective read.

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