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Pharos: A Ghost Story
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Pharos: A Ghost Story

3.11  ·  Rating details ·  151 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
Set in the early nineteenth century, Pharos is a dazzling ghost story from an award-winning author.

A young woman is washed up on the shores of Jacob's Rock, a remote lighthouse island off the coast of Scotland. She does not know who she is or how she got there. She has no memory. The keeper of the lighthouse and his assistant take her in and feed and clothe her. But this
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Hardcover, 160 pages
Published October 1st 2003 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published June 6th 2002)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Terra
Apr 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pharos: A Ghost Story by Alice Thompson was a delightful read. A pure ghost story without the gore, sex and filler you will find in today's books. I must say this was a very unexpected find and I am so glad I was able to get it.

Lucia is a woman who is plain but pretty, frightened by courageous and lost. She is without a memory and wonders how she came to the lighthouse and who exactly she is. A very interesting character who weaves through the book questioning, wondering, seeking and restless as
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Paul
Apr 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ghost-stories
Brief and easy to read ghost story set on a Scottish island in the early 1800s. It is a very small island with a lighthouse, a small graveyard and crypt (obviously .... it's a ghost story) and a vegetable patch; not much else. The lighthouse keeper gets a new assistant and they find an unconscious woman on the beach. She appears to have been shipwrecked and has lost her memory. They keep her on the island and care for her. The lighthouse keepers sister comes to stay and helps out, bringing some ...more
Wayne Simmons
Jan 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is the third Alice Thompson book I've read, the others being Salt's excellent Burnt Island and The Book Collector. Pharos takes a similar path to The Book Collector, with its young female protagonist, Lucia, and the single-set location (this time, a lighthouse). Like The Book Collector, the supporting cast here are mostly male and mostly manipulative. Paranoia is a strong theme again. The reader can't be sure of what is real or surreal, making for a wonderfully unsettling read. And, as with ...more
Miss Sophie
May 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english
The Premise: A woman washes up at the shore of a small Scottish island. She doesn't know who she is or where she comes from. The lighthouse keeper and his assistant take her in. Although they treat her well she gets the feeling that something isn't right.

The Execution: The subtitle is "A ghost story", but you should bear in mind that this isn't a scary story. It is strange and unsettling and not everything fits together, but at no point was I scared. I liked how the story slowly builds, stitched
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Callum McLaughlin
Apr 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really liked the timeless feel of this story, which was very reminiscent in tone to The Turn of the Screw, and felt like it could even be a classic itself, being set in the nineteenth century and verging on melodrama at times. It has all the elements you could generally hope for in an old-school ghost story: An unreliable narrator; an air of mystery; an isolated setting, strange supporting characters and creepy goings on.

The heroine, unsure of her past and unable to decipher reality from wild
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Jaret
Jun 06, 2016 rated it did not like it
I was very unimpressed by this ghost story. The only good thing I can say was that it was short so I didn't waste too much time reading it. The story had lots of potential because the premise of the story was very interesting. However, the writing was very choppy and the scenes changed too quickly. The author seemed like she was trying to keep you in a fog (much like the main character), but all she really did was keep me lost until the build-up. Finally at the end, when I thought it was going t ...more
Kitty
Jun 05, 2013 rated it did not like it
Here's a couple of examples of why I hated this book.

1. "The slippery texture and strong sea smell reminded him of the act of love."

2. "The world, for Simon, was not something to be controlled or managed or done to."

If you need more than these 2 sentences to convince you, then you deserve the tragedy of this experience.
Samantha
I could handle the strange prose since it's trying to create a ghostly atmosphere, but I couldn't get through when Charlotte came into play. Why why WHY did the narrative put down a character who is respected by the main male characters, hardworking, and emotionally stable, for not being obviously, unabashedly SEXY in a plot where that's not even relevant? ?????????????????????????? Finally get a woman who exists not to be a romantic interest, and the narrative puts her down for it. And that's w ...more
Mila Daskalova
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Beautifully written, this short novel touches on so many themes - the relationship between human and nature, madness, memory and faith, among others. I especially loved the metaphor of language as a man-made bridge between the natural and the human worlds: away from the buzz of society, one does start to feel the inadequacy of words (and of their mortal human creator) to portray reality as experienced, let alone to change it and affect the course of nature.

As to the plot, I loved the obscurity
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Tabitha Vohn
May 04, 2015 rated it liked it

Pharos began as a delightfully eerie story about a remote lighthouse and the eccentric oddballs who inhabit it, to include a young man who enjoys bringing puppets to life, a reclusive lighthouse keeper with a locked room and a woman suffering from amnesia who finds herself washed up on shore, naked, completely devoid of memory. Add to that a mysterious crypt and single gravestone on the other side of the island, the lush description of isolation and the strange little girl who "haunts" the islan
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Ape
Oct 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: scotland
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Seregon BookWorm
May 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was a great book to reflect upon in regards to nihilism and questioning reality.

"Melancholy is a dangerous friend. She will make you her slave".

A woman (later named Lucia by the light keeper's assistant) washes upon Jacob's Rock, a lighthouse island off the coast of Scotland and is taken in by the light keeper and his assistant. She doesn't know who she is, where she came from, and her amnesia never really seems to go away. She keeps seeing visions, hearing sounds, is told they're not real
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Kirsten
Jul 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: from-library, fiction
This is a brief, atmospheric ghost story. The setting, a lighthouse on a small island off the coast of Scotland, is deliciously remote and helps give the novel a dreamlike, timeless quality. The only denizens of the island are Cameron the lighthouse keeper and his apprentice, Simon, until one day a mysterious woman washes up on shore. They call her Lucia, as she has no memory of who she is or of her previous life.

Cameron and Simon feed and clothe Lucia and treat her kindly, but life on the islan
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Ingibjörg
This novel is interesting in many ways. Set on a small island (or rock), it tells of strange happenings that take place in the lighthouse and on the island. A mysterious woman is washed ashore. She has lost her memory. She struggles to make sense of weird happenings on the island and the atmosphere becomes ever more eerie and uncanny. I like how the author cleverly plays with her characters' and her readers' conceptions and expectations, as things are truly not what they seem. But I found some o ...more
Laura
Jun 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-fantasy
I was absolutely surprised by the book. I found it lurking half hidden on a back shelf at my library. I was a little leery when part of the title was "A Ghost Story." Not that I have anything against ghost stories, but I was worried it was an urban legend type read that you tell under a blanket with a flashlight.

Anyway, I was greatly surprised by it. It's an extremely short book that I read in a matter of hours, but it had me hooked. Thompson described everything so vividly that I felt like I w
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Sarah
Apr 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
If you have the hardcover version of this book, DO NOT read the blurb on the inside of the dust jacket. It compares the book to another work and that acts as a major spoiler for the plot. I was really mad about that, because I went into the book already predisposed to believe a certain thing. I would have enjoyed the book more without reading that comparison.

I enjoyed the story and it was unique.
Sara Dennis
Mar 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
A beautifully crafted tale of isolation, superstition, sanctity, the responsibility of time, the unpredictability of tide and the slow descent into madness. Themes of myth and magic, binaries of darkness and light, freedom and entrapment, nurture and cruelty run throughout the tale. Culminating in a delicate twist, the story leaves the reader wondering with whom they should sympathise.
Jamie MacDonald Jones
An eerie yet simple ghost story, that provides many alternatives throughout for how the story may end. The sparseness of the style was useful in building the atmosphere and it was an enjoyable short read.
Youndyc
Feb 26, 2009 rated it liked it
bizarre and slightly silly. it was an easy read
Kiwi
Jan 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Not bad. A good quick read - read it in one sitting.
Carol Carter
Aug 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Liked it
Pamster
Apr 07, 2008 rated it liked it
I am afraid of lighthouses now.
Joshua
Feb 13, 2013 rated it liked it
The prose is superb and the atmosphere created is remarkable, the plot sort of fizzles at the end instead of building to a crescendo. Still, so worth the read.
Cassie
Aug 27, 2008 rated it it was ok
Atmospheric prose and an intriguing plot, but unfortunately, it lost me at the end. Lots of potential, but ultimately this novel fell short.
Cassandra
Sep 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Atmospheric and creepy!
Cassandra
rated it did not like it
Aug 13, 2015
flajol
rated it it was ok
Mar 12, 2008
Debbie
rated it liked it
Jan 13, 2016
Ann-kat
rated it really liked it
Jul 18, 2010
Purplekitty
rated it liked it
Apr 24, 2013
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