Written by Frazer Lee
Published by Samhain Publishing
Stoker Award nominee for Best First Novel, The Lamplighters is a disturbing book. I mean REALLY disturbing. Unsettling and ultimately a shock to the system, but I loved it! Published by Samhain Publishing’s new horror line and edited by former Leisure horror editor Don D’Auria, I was excited to read this new book by horror writer/director Frazer Lee. But I was not expecting it to be nearly as good as it is! A little bit of Hostel combined with a smidge of The Silence of the Lambs all mixed together with Lee’s fertile imagination, The Lamplighters is a book you won’t soon forget.
The basic premise is that a group of twenty-somethings are lured by the promise of a great job with generous pay to a remote and uncharted Mediterranean island, owned by a group of billionaires who call themselves The Consortium, Inc., to keep their homes clean and looking like they are inhabited as the young people keep lights on at night in the big houses, hence their nickname: the Lamplighters.
Londoner Marla Neuborn, at the end of her tether financially and emotionally, accepts a position on Meditrine Island as the newest Lamplighter (what happened to the previous one is presented in the first chapter, and gruesome it is). Upon arrival she is introduced to the security team on the island, headed by the hated chief of security who runs the island with an iron fist and CCTV cameras everywhere. Marla meets the other Lamplighters, American Jessie and Italian Pietro, and soon settles into the routine life on the island. But things are just a little… off. No books, TVs, computers, phones, etc., are to be found in any of the homes the Lamplighters care for, and these items are not allowed to the Lamplighters either. They are completely cut off from civilization. And then things take a turn for the REALLY bad when Marla starts noticing someone or something watching her as she works, relaxes by the pool or is in the privacy of her summerhouse. Then there’s Jessie’s plan to have Marla distract the guards while Jessie heads off to the other side of the island, to what is known as the Big House, to do something that might help get them off of the island.
Then there is the Skin Mechanic. A true horror monster. Once he enters the plot, all bets are off as to the fates of the Lamplighters, and Lee is not shy about the gore factor. The Lamplighters is not a long novel, about 270 pages, but it packs a punch. A yacht is blown out of the water, a survivor (and other characters as well) is dealt with in a horrific fashion. Then there is the island’s lighthouse and its resident and his secret, what are ultimately the fates of everyone on the island and, finally, the real secret of Meditrine Island and The Consortium are revealed. Scary stuff indeed! Check this book out and hope that Lee is only beginning a promising horror fiction career.
4 1/2 out of 5