The Lamplighter
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The Lamplighter

3.18 of 5 stars 3.18  ·  rating details  ·  268 ratings  ·  47 reviews
Edinburgh, 1860s: At the Fountainbridge Institute for Destitute Girls, clever orphan Evelyn Todd spins fantastic tales of the lamplighter who passes her window nightly. Her imaginings, forbidden by the home's strict governor, are all but forgotten when Evelyn is spirited away by a man who claims to be her father. Years later, a wave of vicious killings stains the city's co...more
Paperback, 422 pages
Published February 24th 2004 by Pocket Star Books (first published February 25th 2003)
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Michelle O'flynn
I bought this book on sale from my local library, never having read this author before, but I will certainly be seeking out his other efforts after this read. O'Neill begins his tale with the orphan's imaginative tales inspired by her interpretations of "Leerie" the Lamplighter and his escapades, and his protective nature towards her. He is her escape from the dreary and restrictive life within the orphanage. One day she is whisked away to a secluded house in the country by a man claiming to be...more
Dimity
It was hard for me to rate this book because at various points I really dug it and at other various points I almost gave up on it. O'Neill did a great job portraying and developing some of the characters and I particularly enjoyed Inspector Groves in all his blustering glory. But on the other hand, the plot became overly weird and wandered into some rather unexpected territory that I don't think worked. He really did his research on Victorian Edinburgh (always a big plus in my book-I loved the h...more
Phair
What a weird book! A few moments that were interesting but most of it was boring and confusing- a philosophical/theological/psychological oddity. I only kept reading because I could not imagine how it could end. Bought this at a library book sale for 50 cents. Might have been worth about that much.
L
Well, I read it through to the very end. The book succeeds in taking the reader to another world. However, the world is creepy and disturbing. I think I've read enough about fictional satanic possession to last a lifetime now.
Luca

In una Edimburgo nebbiosa e fredda alle prese con un misterioso e crudelissimo assassino, la giovane Evelyn cerca aiuto, racconta i suoi incubi e le sue visioni alla polizia (che non le crede affatto, ovviamente, e viene da chiedersi come la ragazza rimanga a piede libero per tutta la vicenda, pur essendo assolutamente sospettabile e ragionevolmente colpevole). Più disposti ad aiutarla sembrano un professore di filosofia e il guardiano di un cimitero, che sono anche la trovata migliore del libro...more
Max
The book starts out peopled with characters on the lower end of the spectrum of what humans, being humans and because they are humans, aspire to. Along with the gruesome murders I'm wondering if this is another current social phenomenon of sensationalized base characters and methods to destroy created to titillate the reading populace of the same bent.

A review indicates that the story's unwinding is more for the "intellectual". I will keep reading for a time.

Well, its now been a over a week sinc...more
Lisa H.
I... just don't even know where to begin with this one. Initially reads as a fairly straightforward historical mystery, when a series of gruesome and bestial murders hits 1880s Edinburgh. Self-absorbed police Inspector Groves, who often seems more interested in how a case will be presented to future readers of his memoir-in-progress, suspects that the crimes are tied together through an odd young woman, Evelyn Todd, but resistance to his questioning by Evelyn herself, as well as the associates o...more
Tristram
"’I always suspected hell would be a place of poorly performed music’, he said."

It is sentences like the above, uttered by one of the characters during a veritable trip down into the maw of hell, undertaken with the view of helping the unusual heroine of the story dispose of the “Trouble Within”, that render this book especially memorable and entertaining. But it is not just sentences like that.

For a start, the Australian writer Anthony O’Neill has come up with an intriguing story of mystery and...more
Erin
So I made this deal with myself after 10-10-12 that I’d only read books I found to be “good” (noting that “good” doesn’t mean I’m enjoying them necessarily, but rather that I see some merit in reading them) and so true to this promise I’ve stopped reading Anthony O’Neill’s The Lamplighter. I’ve not adopted a particular rule for how long to give the book to win me over (should I read half of it? only a quarter? how soon do you know that a book is no good?), nor have I yet dealt with the terrible...more
Eric
Loved this book. Bought it completely on a whim, having never heard of the book or the author. Ran across it by chance, and purchased it almost entirely on the intriguing cover (different than the current edition, by the way), and the first few paragraphs.

So, the book went on to great success and I was proved ahead of my time, right? Nope. It went on to obscurity, and I've heard no buzz about it or the author since. Most reviewers, other than me, also aren't particularly impressed. So what's the...more
Emily
Two-thirds of the Lamplighter enthralled me. Anthony O'Neill captivates with his portrait of Evelyn, a once vivacious and resilient young girl who has grown into a haunted, troubled woman. Evelyn is haunted by horrific dreams that echo the violence taking place on the streets of 1880s Edinburgh. Thomas McKnight, a weary professor of metaphysics, and his unlikely friend Joseph Canavan attempt to uncover the origins of the crimes. as does Carus Groves, a policeman looking to create a lasting legac...more
Nilo Di Stefano
Un finale troppo caotico
Un libro bello per 3/4, poi il disastro.
Inizialmente il libro riesce a catturare l'attenzione del lettore, poi nel finale non si capisce davvero cosa stia scrivendo l'autore o per meglio dire di cosa stia scrivendo l'autore.
Per buona parte del romanzo si ha la sensazione di vivere una storia alla Sherlock Holmes. Ambientazioni e personaggi sono davvero interessanti e ben delineati, tranne poi nel finale scadere nel puro fanta-horror e per giunta in maniera così rocambol...more
Emily
Still not sure exactly what to say about this book . . . picked it up thinking it was a serial-killer-crime-procedural . . . turns out it isn't, at all. Tightly drawn and with evocative prose, it's an enthralling story that transports the reader back to a very believable late 19th century Edinburgh, but then veers off into the realm of fantasy - very very dark fantasy. Once I got over the surprise of this book not being the historical fiction crime thriller I thought it would be, I found it to b...more
Roberta
Barocco

Giallo storico/filosofico/gotico insipido ambientato in una Edimburgo atterrita da un bestiale serial killer.

Ambientazione inesistente in una Edimburgo che è più evocativa nel titolo (che in originale era The lamplighter e basta) e nella copertina che in tutto il romanzo.

Personaggi piatti e contradditori, motivazioni inesistenti, protagonista principale inesistente.

Trama confusa, che oscilla tra giallo e gotico senza prendere una posizione e rivelando diverse contraddizioni.

Stile estremam...more
Winston
A mystery told from a unique perspective. A story of how suppressing and demonizing imagination twists into self loathing perpetrating evil acts by all, including the victim.
Colette
I'm not sure if O'Neill's concept was original overall but it was original to me. Never read a story quite like it. You feel sorry for Evelyn and her predicament. You feel contempt for Carus Groves, who seems to figure out the villain despite his arrogance. Thomas and Joseph are the ones I ended up rooting for. They seemed to have a handle on things (for good reason).
This book takes a look into the mind and what it will do to preserve itself.
It took me awhile to get through it, not that I didn't...more
Jamie
Though this story of serial killings in 19th Century Edinburgh begins a bit slowly it certainly picks up the pace and makes for interesting reading. O' Neill does a fine job of describing the atmosphere of the city at that time. I was clearly able to picture the hazy atmosphere at each sunset as the Lamplighters scurried through town illuminating its dark streets. The atmosphere and characterization are very well done, the mystery is intriguing and overall I was well satisfied with this tale of...more
Jennifer
If I could give this book another 1/2 star I think I would, but I decided that by the time I finished this book that I was a quite dissapointed with it. It really started off with the potential to be a really suspensful read and maybe it was because I found that I really wanted to find out how it ended but was frustrated at the same time at how it dragged on. The further I got into the book the stranger it got and I guess I also was expecting a typical and predictable type of ending and was in a...more
Amarilli
Indubbiamente l'idea alla base della vicenda è originale, ma sono rimasta delusa dal modo in cui è sviluppata. Sebbene ci siano molti spunti intelligenti, lo stile tende ad appiattire e in certi punti si rasenta la noia. Mentre l'inzio è molto lento - al punto che stavo per abbandonare la lettura - verso la fine gli eventi si accavallano anche troppo, dando quasi l'impressione di un finale scritto in fretta. A mio parere piacevole ma non brillante.
Roberto
A devilish good book! At first I thought it would be a victorian whodunnit ( it remind me of " The Dante Club" which I liked also) but soon I became aware it was not. It´s not easy to classify this novel: an dreamlike thriller perhaps??? The final scenes are haunting as a Hyeronymus Bosch´s or Dali´s painting with a Lynch-esque flavour to it. I wonder why this novel wasn´t yet turned into an horror movie as it has the required elements to be a great one.
Karen
Oct 18, 2007 Karen rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes Gothic novels, Edinburgh...
Shelves: escapist
...or Dante? Explaining that one would spoil it.

This is one book that far, far exceeded my expectations. The copy I read was a mass-market paperback that had been given a library binding. Not fancy. But Anthony O'Neill (an Australian!) wrote a fine, fine Gothic novel (in 2003), set in Edinburgh, 1886. I don't want to spoil too much, but if you're looking for a chilly atmosphere, a spooky story, and lush writing, give it a try.
Tessa
Nov 08, 2012 Tessa rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Rebecca.
I had to withdraw this from our fiction collection and happened to notice that it was set in Edinburgh. Yoink! It went with me on my vacation and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Why didn't more people check it out? It has a fetching red cover.

It's a delicate story combining historical fiction, detection, metaphysics, the devil, fear, secret societies, gruesome murder, and religious conspiracy. Something for everyone.
Jane
This started out really well--a Victorian police procedural, I thought to myself. Then fantasy was introduced, which I felt was out of place in this story. I skimmed the last part, from where the fantastic elements entered. This story couldn't make up its mind what genre it belonged to. I nearly abandoned it, but did want to find out what happened. This novel was a BIG disappointment.
Frank
Niente di speciale. La parte migliore è la rappresentazione dell’atmosfera e dell’ambiente scozzese, con certe immagini che vengono alla mente (aiutate dall’illustrazione di copertina) leggendo di questo personaggio che si aggira per le strade accendendo le lampade dei lampioni di Edimburgo. Certamente meglio questo della vicenda narrata che, a mio parere, non coinvolge più di tanto.
Obisbooks
Much more philosophical than straight murder mystery.
Evil, imagination, reality.
A group of men, an experiment gone wrong, revenge.
But what is real? Can imagination manifest itself?
In the end it was interesting, if slightly confusing, much more about good/evil and what is real and an ending that wasn't really an ending. At least for my less philosophical mind.
Sarah
2.5 stars. This book was good in parts, but the intrigue and suspense didn't hold up for the duration of the story. I also thought that the end fizzled in a way. The last 100 pages seemed to drag. Having said that, I enjoyed O'Neill's style of writing and the incorporation of philsophical ideas into the storyline. But overall, it was a bit "meh".
Katrina
very interesting. good twist of events.
Nicole
I LOVED the style O Neill writes with. His fiction is clean and precise and his characters are characters you can't help but love. The storyline is great and the mystery and suspense is thrilling. I didn't love the ending but did like a few of the unexpected turns and twists in the plot. Good read overall.
Daniela Iannuzzi
Storia assurda e confusionaria. Un perfetto esempio di come una quarta di copertina può essere ingannevole.
Niki Costantini
Peccato, perché non era partito male. Occasione mancata per un giallo storico discreto. Non capisco il ripiegamento verso il nonsenso assoluto, con mostri, deliri e compagnia bella. Proprio brutto.
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