Marla Neuborn has found the best post-grad job in the world – as a 'Lamplighter' working on Meditrine Island, an exclusive idyllic paradise owned and operated by a consortium of billionaires. All Lamplighters have to do is tend to the mansions, cook and clean, and turn on lights to make it appear the owners are home. But the job comes with conditions. Marla will not know the exact location of the island, and she will have no contact with the outside world for the duration of her stay.
Once on the island, Marla quickly learns the billionaire lifestyle is not all it is made out to be. The chief of security rules Meditrine with an iron fist. His private police force patrols the shores night and day, and CCTV cameras watch the Lamplighters relentlessly. Soon Marla will also discover first-hand that the island hides a terrible secret. She’ll meet the resident known as the Skin Mechanic. And she’ll find out why so few Lamplighters ever leave the island alive.
Frazer Lee is a novelist, screenwriter, and filmmaker whose debut novel The Lamplighters was a Bram Stoker Award® Finalist. His film credits include the acclaimed feature film Panic Button. Frazer resides with his family in Buckinghamshire, just across the cemetery from the real-life Hammer House of Horror.
Again I was waffling between giving three and four stars to Frazer Lee's "The Lamplighters". Lee plays beautifully with a few of the old horror tropes, most particularly the one about a group of people trapped on an island (or in a cave, or in an abandoned house miles from anywhere, etc) along with an unknown monster (or homicidal maniac, as the case may be). Somehow, Lee manages to imbue these done-to-death situations and themes with a remarkable freshness and an overlay of originality. The reader is undeniably drawn in to the plight of Lee's characters.
The problem, however, is that the book simply isn't that well written. Oh, the prose is just fine. Lee is obviously an educated author who knows how to write. But there's little emotional impact and very little incentive for the reader to invest him/herself in Lee's characters. To make matters worse, the author writes in a third person P.O.V. yet unaccountably switches between characters while maintaining the identical writing style. Thus, it's sometimes difficult to tell who is "talking" at any point in the story. Often, the reader is unaware of the switch until, puzzled, we realize the character whose view we were just sharing is now the subject of a different character's view.
The set-up is suitably creepy and Lee handles the build up of dramatic tension very well. Yet the novel remains almost inchoate; the pay off, when it comes, seems contrived and is never really explained. Lee has created, in part, a mythology of monsters which he simply presents to the reader as a "done deal", never giving us the opportunity to discover what makes the "monster" tick. While this technique is fine under certain circumstances where the mystery of the monster's identity and/or abilities adds to the creepiness when left ominously unexplained, nothing in this novel falls within those circumstances.
That's not to say "The Lamplighters" isn't a fun read for a horror fan. It is and it's certainly worth checking out. I'm sure many readers will be able to overlook its flaws and have a rousing good old fashioned horror "read". But on almost every level "The Lamplighters" just barely fails to rise to a point that would make it stand out from the crowd. This is a pity as Frazer Lee has clearly crafted the elements of something truly remarkable in this book; he's laid some marvelously interesting foundations replete with possibilities. But as clever as his creation may be, his inability to execute it properly dooms the novel to only rising slightly above mediocrity.
The above being said, I'll certainly be checking out additional books by this author. There are enough tantalizing hints at untapped skills such that later books by Frazer Lee may very well prove worthy of higher marks.
Marla was down on her luck writing bad checks and avoiding her landlady. Out of the blue, a once in a lifetime job offer comes her way and she accepts even though some of the rules seem to be a little extreme. But, hey. She's get to travel to a beautiful island and it's not like she has a better job lined up. All she has to do is clean and "use" a house as if someone is living there and in a year she'll be paid handsomely. No phones, T.V., or communication are allowed. There are some other rules that are not to be broken, but she'll find out the hard way what happens to people who don't do as they're told.
This read started out a little slow and clunky and I did question where the story was going and was kinda wanting the pace to pick up. I could have done without a lot of Marla's...no, Marla period. I don't know why I wasn't able to connect with her other than the fact that she was very naive and constantly laid the blame on others for her own issues. Moving on. The second half picked up greatly and this is where Lamplighters begins to shine. The island and its inhabitants are hiding a secret. Marla and company are about to find out the real reason why they qualified for the job.
A straight B-movie read.
*I was given a copy in exchange for an honest review*
Lee Frazer's debut novel is really good. It fools you at first, allowing you to think it's a subdued kind of horror. Mr. Frazer introduces us to the characters, giving us a glimpse of terror every now and then, but keeps the narrative going with interest and interesting characters and has a setting anyone would want to experience. Then he pulls up the veil and reveals what's really going on. He pours on the horror, plunging the characters and the reader into pure terror and utter mayhem. You'll never see the end coming.
The job seems too good to be true. Live on a secluded island for a year, maintain swanky, millionaire mansions...and get paid for it. For Marla Neuborn, a former nanny fallen down hard on her luck, with no prospects left, the job is a godsend. Especially the way the offer just pops into her email inbox one day.
All she has to do is cook, clean, tend to the mansions, turn on the lights, and pretend that someone is home. Be a lamplighter, to ward away potential burglars and vandals. Not only is it the perfect job, but a heaven-sent second chance for Marla, right when she needed it most. Maybe some of the terms are a bit draconian: she won't know the location of the island, and won't be able to contact the outside world...but she's just desperate enough not to care.
However, it's not long before she discovers something is wrong on Meditrine Island. The head of island security does more than just run a right ship: he's downright fanatical. Also, there's no television. No books or puzzles or even children's books, even. There are security cameras everywhere. At night, she's convinced she sees a shadowy, haunting figure standing at the edge of the property, looking through the glass...
And he has no eyes.
And when she learns a shocking truth from her fellow Lamplighters, she realizes that her heaven-sent second chance is more like an invitation...to hell.
The Lamplighters, by Frazer Lee, tries to be many things: creeping, eerie horror story. Serial killer novel. Enthralling mystery of conspiracy and intrigue. Supernatural horror. And for awhile, it sustains an admirable amount of tension. But ultimately, it doesn't quite live up to the expectations it raises.
The story drags in places, sapping tension and suspense. And while the prose is solid, some of the third person point-of-view exchanges aren't handled well. Certain POV switches read as if they've been made out of convenience, rather than to advance the story forward. Some writers are masters at hiding plot elements inside limited third-person point of view, but the efforts feel a little too obvious, here.
It is, however, a serviceable novel, and does nothing to diminish the overall quality of Samhain's new Horror Line. I look forward to Frazer's second offering, if only on the strength of his prose alone.
Frazer Lee's debut novel, "The Lamplighters", is a solid thriller that will keep most horror fans flipping pages to the end of the book. The book, which was a Bram Stoker Award nominee for "Best First Novel", is the story of a young Londoner's attempt to flee her past when given the opportunity to become a house-sitter (or Lamplighter) on beautiful Meditrine Island. Marla Neuborn sees the chance to leave her piling debts and lecherous neighbor behind to good to pass up, even as the little voice in her head tells her there's something just not right about this offer.
When Marla arrives on the island and starts her assignment, she does truly find her new setting idyllic. The weather is beautiful, the job's not too taxing, and the pay will solve her financial problems, IF she fulfills her contract. Marla soon meets other Lamplighters who lead her to believe that the job's not quite as wonderful as it first appears. There can be no contact with the outside world, no media of any type, and very strict rules maintained by unyielding guards under the direction of their sadistic commander.
The other issue that quickly sets Marla on edge is the feeling that she's being watched. That fear is soon crystalized when she does sight a mysterious dark sharp just outside the home that she's watching one late night. As Marla attempts to find out more about the island and its other inhabitants, she quickly discovers that her Eden is in reality a living Hell. Like the other Lamplighters on the island, she's trapped with no way home. Their struggle quickly turns into a fight for survival against an unseen, ominous enemy.
Author Lee does a great job developing the plot for this novel and brings the reader along on a comfortable place. Character development is sufficient enough for what the reader needs to know, but like in many horror tales and movies, some of the characters (and their actions) are too baffling to find credible. This is really the only negative that I had with the novel and did find it to be an enjoyable experience. Not for the squeamish, "The Lamplighters" is worthy of its Stoker Award and establishes Lee as an author to watch.
This was one of those books that was perfectly entertaining without being particularly great. It was perfectly adequate in most respects, the plotting, the pacing, the writing was all very serviceable without being a stand out in any way. Most of the characters were as dispensable as their fictional counterparts. Maybe more likable characters would result in the reader more invested in what happens. Some genuine creepiness toward the end. Basic logic...accept jobs that sound unreal, if traveling, tell someone where you're going, etc. doesn't apply to the main characters, a bunch of young stoners with no families or friends to speak of and of course, OF COURSE, something's seriously off on the gorgeous island and someone seriously scary is after them for nefarious purposes. It's that kind of a story, a literary equivalent of a B horror flick. Works for what it is, fairly quick fun read.
I thought this was an interesting story, and that Frazer Lee has crafted something that seems deceptively simple at first, but grows more complex as you read on. This book will definitely appeal to fans of 80s horror, as it has some elements of a throwback to some of the plot elements. Samhain continues to release good horror novels, and "Lamplighters" is no exception. It also has a unique concept, and does seem like it could be made into an interesting film, as well.
Loved the beginning and the middle and most of the ending and then just read it all out and thought that it was a bit squandered. The book could have been just as good without the fantasy/alchemy episodes in the end. It all read like something from a film, which is a good thing, but I never got the resolve I wanted. Guess I am picky today.
Still a good horror that kept me curled up in bad a day and a night reading.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Gloriously grotesque! Viscerally disturbing. Addictively paced writing makes for a definite binge read. Well crafted characters with interesting plot twists. Glad to have this one on the shelf at home! ✌😈💚
Lately I have been on a huge Samhain Horror kick and it seems like all the books I have been sent for review and books I have read on my own have been through this publisher. I first started reading Samhain Horror through Hunter Shea's work and ever since then I have been exposed to a ton of excellent authors. Frazer Lee is a name that has continuously popped up and I have been hearing a lot about his debut The Lamplighters, which was a finalist for a Bram Stoker award in the "Superior Achievement in a First Novel" category. Seeing as how I have been nothing short of impressed with the offerings of Samhain Horror, this instantly became a must-read for me.
The story focuses on Marla Neuborn, a young woman who is desperately yearning for a fresh start. Her life has been littered with tragedy and missteps and she is literally at rock bottom - living in a cramped apartment complex and scraping to get by after losing her job as a nanny. Just when it seems she has lost everything, she gets an unexpected call from The Consortium Inc. who offer her a job as a "lamplighter" on the secluded Meditrine Island. The island is home to billionaires who hire people to take care of their mansions in order to maintain their residency. All Marla has to do is clean and maintain the property, a seemingly cushy job that would be a dream come true for anyone. There are only two requirements for the job: a personality test and availability for a year. There is also a secrecy clause that prohibits Marla from knowing the exact location of the island and there is no contact with the outside world. This last requirement should set off warning bells in any horror fan's mind as a clue that this is no ordinary island! What makes it creepy is that the island seems to not exist. There is no mention of it on the internet and is not visible on any map or Google Earth. Once Marla arrives on Meditrine Island, she meets up with another fellow Lamplighter named Jessie. Jessie has been on the island for a while and shows Marla the ropes and fills her in on some of the secrets of the island, such as the fact that there are security cameras hidden throughout the island. As Marla and Jessie begin to investigate elements of the island, they slowly begin to realize that there may be more to this job than meets the eye.
The Lamplighters is one of those books that is difficult to review because discussing what makes this story great would reveal huge spoilers about the book. What I can say is that while much of the book seems to explore similar themes as other horror works, it is far from a rehash of genre tropes. Lee puts his own unique and horrifying spin on these themes and crafts a stunning conclusion that you will have to read to believe. The novel builds suspense gradually, creating a sense of impending terror that looms throughout the story. While The Lamplighters mostly utilizes suspense and an intriguing mystery behind the truth of the island to move the story forward, Lee also incorporates gore and violence in a way that enhances the story and does not seem overbearing.
The characters were all believable and well described, but it is a character known only as the Skin Mechanic who steals the show despite getting little face time throughout the novel . This is easily the most frightening character of the novel and his description and what he is capable of is utterly frightening and seems ripped straight from the darkest depths of nightmares. It may not be today or even relatively soon, but I fully expect to have the Skin Mechanic pop up in my nightmares in the very near future! Lee is releasing a prequel novel titled The Skintaker in April that explores the origins of the Skin Mechanic and I am definitely looking forward to learning more about one of horror's most original villains.
While I highly enjoyed this novel, it is the sort of novel readers will either love or hate. While there is plenty of action and a great mystery behind the story, it can seem to move slow at times. Readers who don't mind slow building tension will love it and those looking for a faster paced story may leave feeling disappointed. There is no denying that Lee is a talented writer and his background as a screenwriter is evident throughout the pages of the novel. This would make a really great movie and while I already mentioned my excitement for The Skintaker, I think I am even more excited for the planned sequel to The Lamplighters!
The Consortium is a corporation comprised of an exclusive group of billionaires owning a private island named Meditrine, which is somewhere in the Mediterranean. The only way to get onto the island is through special invitation from The Consortium, Inc., and Marla Neuborn receives one.
Marla is living--if you could call it that--in London, England. She is broke, out-of work and has just been evicted from her apartment. She receives a notice from The Consortium that she has been specially selected to interview for the position of "lamplighter" on the organization's isolated island. All lamplighters do is keep up the appearance of occupancy in the homes of the billionaires who are off the island for most of the year so that they will qualify for residential tax breaks. All lamplighters are required to do is clean the mansions and use electricity and water to register on the utility bills. In return, they will receive free room and board on an island paradise and a handsome sum of money for living in luxury.
Or so the story goes.
Marla has nothing to lose (or so she thinks!), so she takes the offer. While on the beautiful island paradise, she runs into two other lamplighters , a broken lighthouse keeper (both keeper and lighthouse being broken), and the totalitarian island security force led by the fascistic Fowler. Soon, Marla learns that there are more rules--and more secrets--on the island than there is freedom.
Also, there is a killer named the Skin Mechanic or the Skin Taker on the island, and he has been successfully eluding Fowler's security forces.This killer skins and disembowels his victims, often displaying his handiwork elaborately. Marla and her friends find themselves trapped on the island,hunted by both the Skin Mechanic and Fowler's forces. Since all the lamplighters signed contracts forbidding contact with the outside world (no computers, phones, mail, etc.), they appear to be pretty much left to their own resources to stay alive.
I have two problems with the story.One is a serious error in logic involving Fowler's character. Fowler does something no control freak would ever do, which ultimately leads to his own demise. Also, there's too much Fowler in the story and not enough of the Skin Mechanic. Still, Fowler is quite an interesting villain with his perverse sadistic tendencies and his the-ends-justify-the-means ruthlessness. The reader gets only brief glimpses of the Skin Mechanic along the way (adding to his mystique), but he is central to the novel's rather long (but riveting) climax.
The ending is well worth the wait. If you're squeamish, be forewarned. As a fan of horror for decades, I can assuredly say that the ending contains some of the most graphically disturbing scenes I've ever encountered in the genre. The closest I can come to it is the ending of the French movie MARTYRS, which shocked most of us in the horror community when it was released even though we thought we'd seen it all. Still, that movie's ending is nothing compared to the conclusion of THE LAMPLIGHTERS.
All that being said, what drives the events of this novel is a ruthless group of people with the money to have anything they want and to keep it all hush-hush. They're greedy, but it's not for money: they have all of that they need and more. What they want is the stuff of bygone explorers' quests and beautiful people's dreams, something that has eluded us despite all our scientific knowledge and technological advances. Where science fails is where mysticism begins, and it's the basis for the plot of THE LAMPLIGHTERS.
The Lamplighters is the first book of Frazer Lee's that I've read, and on balance there was enough to make me think it might be worth reading another. The setting was great, down at heel girl is offered the job of a lifetime on an island paradise that turns out to be creepy, to say the least.
I enjoyed The Lamplighters for most of the journey. It is made plain from the outset that something is not right on the island, and bit by bit more is revealed as we approach the climax. There is an eclectic bunch of characters, although I didn't find myself rooting for any of them as much as I would have hoped.
The writing style I found a bit so-so in places, and as with others I thought the POV changes could have been handled better. The passages that described one character being a computer hacker were written as if the author had read a computer jargon dictionary rather than actually learning about the subject.
Finally, the ending. Despite the issues I had, Lee could have pulled a 4 star rating out of the hat with a killer ending. However, although the build up was good, the explanation for the whole kaboodle was a bit ho hum. Almost like Lee had written the book without an ending then got there and thought, that'll have to do.
Still an enjoyable, fast and easy read if you can accept its flaws. The idea and story deserved a bit better writing style and a much better conclusion. But as I've given The Lamplighters a 3 star rating, I obviously think it was worth reading.
Marla Neuborn’s life is a mess. No money, no job, soon to be homeless … so when she is offered what amounts to a new start, she jumps at the chance, driven as much as drawn to the opportunity of a job on Meditrine Island. It’s a long way away, isolated, she’ll be out of touch with the world for a year — but so what? She has no one to miss and no one who will miss her.
Once there, the seemingly easy and idyllic lifestyle as a Lamplighter — someone who keeps the houses of wealthy owners clean and tidy, runs appliances and lights the lamps every day — turns out to be rather different than Marla had imagined.
As the days go by, the questions stack up: who are the mysterious, absent owners of the lavish homes on Meditrine? What is causing the deaths of the small animals whose bodies Marla is finding around the island? Who is peeping in windows? And why is security so intense?
If you think The Lamplighters starts well (and it does — very) wait until you see how it ends. Frazer Lee expertly builds up the tension, taking the reader on a hell of journey to a horrifying climax.
The Skin Mechanic awaits. He will give you nightmares. Accept this as a fair price to pay for the pleasure of reading The Lamplighters.
The Lamplighters, by Frazer Lee is the third book by Samhain Publishing that I have read and so far it is my favorite. Lee takes the reader into a unique landscape and story line. As I have said in other reviews, in the world of modern horror it is difficult to take a new twist or find an environment that has not been explored, but Lee pulls it off with this novel.
The story hinges around Marla. Marla is a down and out young woman living in London. Her life is crashing to the point where she will do anything to get a new start. This new start, at least she hopes, comes in the form of a care taking job off the coast of Greece. An island build for the richest of the rich, needs people to maintain their luxury estates. These 'Lamplighters' get to party and lounge in giant mansions in the middle of a beautiful island and all they are required to do is clean a few rooms each day and keep the lights burning. It should be a pretty sweet deal and the perfect job.
A good horror story. I like the concept, this idea of a strange island with unknown secrets and lost, unconnected people working as lamplighters. There are a lot of good, tense moments at play throughout the story, even thought there isn't a lot there that you haven't seen before in other horror novels. That being said, they don't feel stale. I like to say that horror is about transgressing against the rules of the story world. There is a lot of that here. That being said, while rules don't apply to horror in the same way as in other genres, the ending left me unsatisfied. I won't get in to it too much here, because I don't want to give anything away, but the way that the entire story is brought together and explained feels like a cheap literary device that could have been handled differently. It became a strange, straight-forward explanation bordering on an info dump. While it was some of the most original elements of the story, the way it was done weakened everything Lee had done up to that point. However, I did enjoy the book and will keep an eye out for more Frazer Lee books in the future.
If the job sounds too good to be true, it probably is. We all know this, but when poor Marla is down on her luck, she can’t resist the offer of a well-paying housekeeping job in a Mediterranean island. So what if she can’t know where the island is located, or have any contact with the outside world for the duration of her stay. Drugs, alcohol, television, and reading are all strictly forbidden (the no books piece would turn me off, no matter how good the deal was.)
Needless to say, this is a horror novel, so things go south quickly. Lee peels away layers to the island and gives us a glimpse of the terror within piece by piece. The characters are passable but not particularly compelling, which is fine because it doesn’t make sense to get too attached to them. The Skin Mechanic is a fantastic villain—I love the name and the Texas Chainsaw-esque pictures I held in my mind of him. This is a fun, quick read, and have all of us reading the fine print on those employment contracts. Also, we should all be using sun screen. The Skin Mechanic likes nice, smooth skin.
It's books like this that make be so happy to be an armchair traveler, and never in contact with the less than 1% of global wealth. What happens on this island--Meditrine-- should never happen to anyone. Imagine a claque of monstrously wealthy, unimaginably powerful, individuals, a combine or cartel as it were, devoted solely to satisfying their own unearthly desires and extending their longevity. Then add a "skeleton" crew of young persons, all healthy, friendless, drifters, contracted to a ridiculously minor amount of house-tending, on an empty island "paradise." Now remember who conceived all this: the crafty imagination of author Frazer Lee, and prepare for a thrill-ride of epically gory and horrendous proportions. Fasten your seat belt and hold on tight, as Frazer Lee takes--you--away.
I really liked how this book introduces the main character, as well as the island, where the story takes place. The pace, although sometimes perhaps a bit too long-winded, is fairly good. Suspense is everpresent, keeping the reader's curiosity in check. Unfortunately, a lot of questions remain unanswered, while the last couple of chapters become extremely surreal. While this is atractive for many readers, I feel that this device has been used so many times in the past that nowadays it is a tad overused. This fact also makes it very hard to find a book where the surreal fits, and is used appropriately. Recommended for horror-eaters, but beware: this mystery will not leave you alone for a while.
Marla got a job as a lamplighter on a secluded island where she would clean huge mansions and make believe someone lived in them. She met other lamplighters who figured out they would never leave the island. The skin collector preyed on those he came across and the owners of the houses worshipped him. He figured out a way to give them eternal youth by experimenting over the decades. Alas, poor Marla was strung up like a veil for these people to step through and absorb some of her identity till she did not exists at all. I had one hell of a nightmare after reading three quarters of this book lol, plus it was during bad thunderstorms that we had.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
It took me forever to read this book. I am not really sure why actually, but it took a really long time. The book started out OK, nothing spectacular but it was interesting enough that I thought I would be able to just fly through it and move on the next book, but that did not happen. There were things that really peeked my interest but was never fully resolved in the story. I feel like so much of the story or at least the background was just missing. I read on I guess looking for unanswered questions that actually never came. I was more confused by the end of the story then I was throughout the whole book. Not really sure if I would recommend this book. Well probably not.
A good page-turning horror evoking the cinema of Dario Argento, Clive Barker, Wes Craven and Brian Yuzna.
Down and out Marla Neuborn is offered a care-taking job as a 'Lamplighter' on an isolated and security ridden island.
As the gruesome deaths and disappearances along with dead mutilated animals start piling up, Marla is to learn in the worst possible fashion the secret of Meditrine Island, its spoiled and sinister Consortium Inc. owners and the resident monster and surgical psycho-genius the Skin Mechanic.
A creepy trip of thrills, shocks and grisly revelation horror fans should eat up.
In The Lamplighters, Frazer Lee writes a great story of, If it feels too good to be true, it probably is. Marla Nueborn takes a job on a remote island. It seem like paradise, but things begin to feel strange, with the island and with the people she meets. Lee does an excellent job of pulling us into the story without telegraphing the outcome. The Lamplighters has good characters and a well told story with a great climax.
Lee's first novel shows much potential. The book had a creepy, mysterious vibe for most of its duration. I wasn't thrilled with the climax and conclusion. There were some pointless scenes and things that didn't quite click. Still, this a good read and an incredibly gross one as well. Check it out if you like horror.
I really enjoyed this book until about 80% and then to be frank it went weird, it's a shame because it's so well written but the end idea was so well out there it left me feeling a bit....like... weirded out, rated 3 1/2
A gritty, truly scary tale about a down-n-out girl on an mysterious island where something really bad is going on in the shadows. Book gets quite gory toward the end, so if you're squeamish: be warned.