Letters from the Lighthouse


I was given the opening chapters of this title in March. When the pages ran out, I felt bereft, desperate to follow up the mystery of Sukie’s disappearance from the air raid that interrupted the screening of ‘The Mark of Zorro’. It was obvious she was up to something and the movie was a cover to distract her 13- year old sister, Olive, our story teller, and their younger brother, Cliff. That the story, with Olive and Cliff, should move to Devon, with evacuees, and a secret refugee support network, is quite some feat of dextrous writing.

‘Letters from the Lighthouse‘ is gripping reading from the outset. Emma Carroll maintains pace and interest for her readers. Her research of her setting, from bomb-ravaged London to the perilous Devon coastline, with a city family, exhausted by fear, loss, uncertainty and danger, is so assured. We care about Olive andCliff, their search for Sukie, and their insecure footings in strange places, times and amongst strange people. I admire the fact that Emma Carroll doesn’t ‘soft soap’ the reality for her readers. When Olive and Cliff arrive in Devon after a threatening seven-hour journey to a lack of welcome or hospitality, there is no author panacea; this is how it was for so many at this time. The reader is treated responsibly; we understand that ‘there is a war on’, that other events and activities take precedence.

It all makes for meaningful, purposeful storytelling and well worth my wait! I recommend ‘Letters from the Lighthouse‘ to any reader needing a really strong story that grips and holds your interest through every page.


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Letters from the Lighthouse

Emma Carroll

(Faber & Faber)

Letters from the Lighthouse is a stirring wartime mystery. It seems to begin with Mum’s green coat, a letter and Sukie’s mysterious disappearance. Thereafter, Olive and Cliff are evacuated to Devon. Yet all the time Olive is consumed by Sukie’s whereabouts.
Yet, who is the spiky girl who seems to antagonise Olive. Thereafter, why is there so little sympathy for the city children who need the comfort of a seaside setting? After all their wartime experiences have left them exhausted, shattered and scared.
 Letters from the Lighthouse is urgent, pacy and captivating. Emma Carroll creates a realistic WWII setting and hugely absorbing characters. We are thoroughly caught up in Olive and Cliff’s story. It seems that their new setting is shifty and unreliable. However, is it, really? Might there be more secrets that somehow connect to Sukie? Furthermore, can Olive and Cliff penetrate the chill of their evacuation and find safety, solace and thereafter, Sukie? This superb title leads onto a thoroughly fulfilling revisit in When We Were Warriors. Bookwagon loves this series and recommends this writer hugely!

Winner Leeds Book Award 2017

Winner Books are My Bag Best Middle Grade Reader 2018


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