Book Review: The Lighthouse Witches by C.J. Cooke

It's a 3 for me.

The Lighthouse Witches by C.J. Cooke

Released October 2021

Dark Fiction  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon  |  Bookshop

Two sisters go missing on a remote Scottish island. Twenty years later, one is found--but she's still the same age as when she disappeared. The secrets of witches have reached across the centuries in this chilling Gothic thriller from the author of the acclaimed The Nesting.

When single mother Liv is commissioned to paint a mural in a 100-year-old lighthouse on a remote Scottish island, it's an opportunity to start over with her three daughters--Luna, Sapphire, and Clover. When two of her daughters go missing, she's frantic. She learns that the cave beneath the lighthouse was once a prison for women accused of witchcraft. The locals warn her about wildlings, supernatural beings who mimic human children, created by witches for revenge. Liv is told wildlings are dangerous and must be killed.

Twenty-two years later, Luna has been searching for her missing sisters and mother. When she receives a call about her youngest sister, Clover, she's initially ecstatic. Clover is the sister she remembers--except she's still seven years old, the age she was when she vanished. Luna is worried Clover is a wildling. Luna has few memories of her time on the island, but she'll have to return to find the truth of what happened to her family. But she doesn't realize just how much the truth will change her.

My 2 Cents For Free!

This review is my personal reading experience. Yours may differ. Don't be blaming me if it does!

This book is beloved by many and I hate that I didn’t fall deeply in love as well but we’re all different so please don’t come and take my glasses away.

I listened to this book on audio. The narrators do a lovely job, they truly do! Their accents are beautiful and the children’s voices didn’t make me want to claw out my ears. However, I think this is a book best read in bookish form first so you can more easily see the time jumps and POV switches without it messing with your brain. There are SO many characters and I spent a good part of this experience rewinding because I kept getting confused. Perhaps this was intentional on the part of the author to keep you off-kilter and a tad disoriented but after I reached the halfway mark of the audio my brain began to feel as if it were melting from overexertion. It could simply be my brain, it’s tired and full of nonsense.

Now on to the content. I love a good lighthouse story and if you throw in some wronged witches, a curse, and the possibility of changelings terrifying the superstitious townsfolk, well that’s a book I want to read and that’s sort of what we have here - at least on the surface. In the late ’90s, a young mother flees with her three daughters to a coastal town to accept a commission to paint a mural inside a lighthouse. She uproots them all on what appears to be a whim but that’ll be somewhat explained later. Anyhow, the kids are not thrilled but begin to make a life for themselves but everything goes to poo, as it will, when two of the kids go missing. But wait, there’s more! So much more. This book has layers and multiple timelines. The eldest daughter finds a Grimoire which is another timeline in itself. And then there’s the current day timeline that features the only daughter who didn’t go missing. This timeline confounded me for several reasons that I can’t get into without spoiling all the things. I’ll only say that Luna reacted quite unnaturally to almost all of the situations thrown her way. Most people would be screaming WTF to anyone who would listen and her detached and strange reactions bugged me. I’m finished and I still cannot wrap my head around her underreaction to everything but we’re all different so who am I to say?

There is a lot going on here and it does get a little bogged down in the middle and some of the characters were a bit hard to get to know. I never wanted to quit because the book has many secrets and I needed to discover them all but I was left feeling unsatisfied at the way the book rushed to its conclusion after the long slow build. Less time with some of the meandering stuff in the middle and more time spent on the ending might’ve made it feel less frantic, at least if you ask me.

So it’s ⭐️⭐️⭐️ for me and that’s because I liked it. If I wasn’t pulled in I would’ve quit it because I’m never going to finish all of these books if I suffer through the dreadful ones. The Lighthouse Witches kept me reading because the storyline was engaging despite some of the issues I mentioned above.


About C.J. Cooke

C. J. Cooke is an award-winning poet and novelist published in twenty-three languages. She teaches creative writing at the University of Glasgow, where she also researches the impact of motherhood on women's writing and creative writing interventions for mental health.

See what's next at her website!


  1. I do love a good lighthouse setting, though I'm not sure I'd enjoy all those different timelines. This one's on my 'maybe' list.

    1. It might go down easier in paper form. The audio was difficult for me.

  2. The premise sounds like a good one even with the problems.

  3. 3 stars ain't bad. i find it hard to dnf a book, no matter what, though i feel the same as you...never get to the good ones if ya get hung up with the not so good ones.
    sherry @ fundinmental

    1. Yup, I've been a bit better about dnf-ing this year but I still find such a difficult thing to do.

  4. Good review. You don't have to love every book that everyone else does. I didn't know C.J. Cooke was a poet. I tend to enjoy a poet's prose because his or her style of writing is usually lyrical with beautiful descriptions.

  5. I love the cove of this one so much!


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