Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Sunlight Pilgrims” as Want to Read:
The Sunlight Pilgrims
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Sunlight Pilgrims

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  2,289 ratings  ·  511 reviews
It's November of 2020, and the world is freezing over, each day colder than the last. There's snow in Israel; the Thames is overflowing; and an iceberg separated from the Fjords in Norway is expected to drift just off the coast of Scotland. As ice water melts into the Atlantic, frenzied London residents evacuate by the thousands for warmer temperatures down south--but not ...more
Hardcover, 310 pages
Published March 24th 2016 by William Heinemann
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Sunlight Pilgrims, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Gertie Um, nevermind. I misinterpreted "follow-up", but have no way to delete my question...…moreUm, nevermind. I misinterpreted "follow-up", but have no way to delete my question...(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.57  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,289 ratings  ·  511 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Sunlight Pilgrims
this is a gem of an apocalypse story. i'd read this author's book The Panopticon a few years back, and loved it, but this one is so very different in style and tone, it shows just how much authorial range ms fagan has. The Panopticon was gritty and harsh, but not without some really lovely bits. this one is slower, more deliberate and insightful, and the lovely languid writing is back and it is tremendously effective in this setting, where the world is slooooowwwwly ending as a new ice age rolls ...more
Amalia Gkavea
‘’There are three suns in the sky and it is the last day of autumn- perhaps for ever.’’

Since Dystopian Fiction is one of my favourite genres, The Sunlight Pilgrims had been on my list for quite some time. When one has read a significant number of Dystopian novels, the risk to feel that what you read is one of the same is always present. Thankfully this is not the case with Jenni Fagan’s brilliant novel. It is beautifully written, full of emotions and with brilliantly developed themes that ce
Truly one of the highlights of this year, this book....

Read a great review in the New York Times book review here:

“The Sunlight Pilgrims” is a stylistically quieter novel than Fagan’s bravura debut, “The Panopticon” — a fiery and voice-­driven effort that landed her on Granta’s 2013 list of the best British novelists under 40 years old — but it is no less critical in its portrayal of marginalized people under the pressure of society’s norms....Fagan is a
Diane S ☔
Feb 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
The year is 2020, the world is getting colder, the Thames has frozen solid, snow in places where it doesn't usually snow and a huge glacier is heading towards Scotland. In a Scotland caravan park, Constance, her daughter Stella, though Stella used to be a he, and Dylan, a young man from London whose mother lived in the park and had recently died, are gearing up for the coldest winter ever. The descriptions of the weather, the snow, the cold and ice are phenomenal, one can feel this weather insid ...more
Angela M
May 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

It's eerie for sure and disconcerting to think that in this novel, taking place in 2020 only four years from now , that a new Ice Age is coming not just to this place in Scotland called Clachan Fells but all over the world. It's a tribute to the author that her descriptions make you feel the unbelievably cold temperatures and see the three suns in the sky , the phantom suns . The prologue is beautifully written setting the stage for the story, mainly of three unforgettable characters.

Within the
Joe Valdez
My introduction to the fiction of Scottish author Jenni Fagan is The Sunlight Pilgrims. Published in 2016, this is a novel I moved up my reading docket based on positive reviews, its apocalyptic trappings and my winter theme to read fiction set in freezing environments. While I'm usually avid for new takes on doomsday and a new Ice Age grabbed my attention, I was not compelled by anything Fagan attempted to do or how she went about it. Had this novel been a door stopper, I would've abandoned and ...more
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
This book is cold.....

I enjoyed the characters in the book. I was expecting more to happen in the book. I thought they were going to be fighting the cold the whole time, but it's really about people and friendship and well yes, the cold.

They are talking throughout the book about looking at the three suns. I thought at first this was some crazy thing that happened with the Ice Age coming, we suddenly had three suns but no, this is what they all it in the book:



--Parhelia. It's a phenomen
Jun 10, 2016 added it
Shelves: abandoned
Not going to rate this - putting it into my abandoned pile. Good writing - but because I'm not inclined to read the blurbs anymore prior to reading, I didn't realize this was YA. I'm not a fan and really need to mentally prepare myself for one. This has gotten rave reviews from some of my fondest GR friends (who I trust immensely). So, don't be put off by me. Just can't do it for the YA factor. ...more
Larry H
Aug 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I'd rate this 3.5 stars.

People often comment that there are not many original ideas out there. While that seems true sometimes, at other times you find a book that is pretty unique in certain ways, and isn't at all what you expected. That was definitely the case with Jenni Fagan's The Sunlight Pilgrims . While not everything meshed the way I had hoped, this was a unique and surprising book, and it definitely has stayed in my mind.

It's 2020 and the world is in the grips of the coldest temperat
Helene Jeppesen
Jun 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wow, this book was the perfect combination of scary and intriguing! We are in Scotland where everything is covered in frost and snow. Actually, all of the world is covered in what everyone fears is going to be the next Ice Age and the extinction of humanity. The scary part is that this story takes place only 4 years from now, in 2020!
While this story is quite claustrophobic and chills you to the bones, I love how it comes with a glimpse of hope. Dylan, Stella and Constance get to know each other
3.5 Stars. Three people living their day-to-day lives in a time of great upheaval. 5-star character/setting & beautiful writing, but I was at a 2-star level of engagement. It was slow moving and not much happened. That isn't always a deal-breaker for me, but I just didn't click with this book.

All the villagers look worried and that is the worst thing. Before it was just poverty, pestilence, terrorists, pedophiles, drugs, eating disorders, online grooming, meteors skimming a bit too close for com
Jul 07, 2016 rated it really liked it

This is one of those books. Any reservations I had left even after reading glowing reviews disappeared and I found that I was always eager to return to Jennie Fagan’s story of nuclear winter set in Scotland. That the setting is only a mere four years away made it all the more compelling.

When temperatures begin to plunge, there is the inevitable social and economic crisis associated, but while Fagan incorporates those issues, the focus remains on the people. The setting, while bitterly cold even
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I think I would group this book in the same pool as Station Eleven - a literary novel playing with a setting of destruction to explore other themes. As people who know me know, this might hint at a lesser enjoyment of the book for me than I think other people will have. I've read many disaster novels and have some baseline expectations for the realism I require to find truth in the story.

In this book it is an ice age instead of a virus, with a smaller cast of characters and narrower themes of s
This book is something else. You better sit down somewhere cosy while you read this, because the story is gripping, intriguing and above all it’s cold.

It’s November 2020 and a terrible cold is descending upon the globe, the worst winter in centuries. The Thames freezes over and hundreds of people die from the icy weather. In these harsh times we follow Dylan, Constance and Stella as they try to survive the low temperatures and the lack of sunlight, as well as their own personal problems.

“...the child of a wolf may not feel like she has fangs until she finds herself facing the moon, but they are still there the whole time regardless.”

There is absolutely no question: the writing here is stunning. Stella is also a fantastic, engaging character - I just wish the others had the same depth. There's a little manic-pixie-dream syndrome going on here, along with a good solid case of insta-love, and on reflection I found I had very little attachment to either Dylan or Constance.

Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The ice age is coming,
the sun's zooming in,
meltdown expected,
the wheat is growing thin

Wind forward a few years to 2020. The ice caps are melting and the gulf stream has stopped. The UK is subject to a huge freeze as the Thames ices over and the country is carpeted in snow.

In the north of Scotland a community struggles to adapt and survive as the temperature plummets. In a trailer park on the edge of town a newcomer from London strikes up a relationship with his neighbours, a hippy lady and a
Mel (Epic Reading)
This is an apocalypse story that stars some really boring people; and a transgender teen. The most interesting part is not the apocalypse (which felt barely relevant half the time) but instead our teenager; who isn't even the main character of the story.

A mid-aged man learns that his family is in debt and after his mother and her partner die he is left with no choice but to flee the home he's always known; a one-screen cinema. He ends up in a little trailer in Northern Ireland in what is ab
Nov 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nov-16
The Sunlight Pilgrims, by Jenni Fagan, takes place in 2020 in a small Scottish town during the worst winter on record (the approaching ice age).
It is a touchingly believable story of a small group of people, living in a caravan, and how they continue to lead their lives while the enviromental catastrophe escalates.
I couldn't help liking the characters as they were flawed and genuine. While fighting off despair they hung onto each other with dignity and affection.
One of the strongest aspects of
Dannii Elle
"You can drink light right down into your chromosomes, then in the darkest minutes of winter, when there is a total absence of it, you will glow and glow and glow."

This is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read. I felt the story was slightly prolonged in the central section but the overall lyrical beauty of it led this to be a solid 4/5 star read. It also dealt with a multitude of important topics such as grief, gender identity, sexuality, the degradation of women, monogamy,
Jul 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Baby it's cold outside! The year is 2020 and it's -6 degrees in Scotland. Temperatures all over the world are dropping to record lows, it's snowing in places it shouldn't be snowing and the Thames has frozen over. Are you cold yet? Oh yeah and a major iceberg is headed towards Scotland. Things are not looking so great for Constance and her trans teenage daughter Stella who is struggling to get hormone blockers.

This is a very literary take on the genre along the lines of Station Eleven or Gold Fa
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I just fell in love with all the characters and the place. This made me laugh, it made me sad, it made me happy. I am not sure what else to say. It is a story about an ice age? Well, yes, but it is more than that. Far more. Everyone was suffering from a degree of sadness, but as things got colder, they became happier. Funny how things like that happen. I found myself wanting to live in northern Scotland and watch an iceberg come into the bay. I am going to live with Dylan, Stella , Constance, Vi ...more
Tink Magoo is bad at reviews

How do you rate a book like this? I don't even know where to start or what to say here.

Let's get something straight first, this is more of a character driven book showcasing people who are lost, who are struggling with grief and looking for acceptance, rather than a book about the end of the world.

It's bleak, slightly depressing, slow and not a great deal happens BUT it is written so well. It's clever, a bit dry (which a lot of people that aren't from England may not understand), full of quirky
Sep 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
In the vein of Station Eleven, Jenni Fagan pens a gentler, poetic, and profound "snowpocalypse" tale. Despite my increasing wariness for dystopian tales, this one manages to feel quite fresh. The world is undergoing something of an icy Pompeii, and it's progressing more quickly than any scientists foresaw coming. It's snowing mostly everywhere, temperatures won't stop plummeting to alarming depths, and civilization is running out of places to outrun it.

Dylan MacRae, a loner who worked at his fa
May 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The winter of 2015-16 was one of the warmest winters on record. Fast forward to 2020. In the Sunlight Pilgrims, climate change causes the coast of Scotland to experience a rapid drop in temperature from -6 degrees in November 2020 to -56 degrees in March 2021. The polar icecaps are melting. The coastal village of Clachan Fells is one of many places where residents will be snowed in, light deprived, and experience severe cabin fever. Even worse, some residents could freeze to death. This could be ...more
Hannah Greendale
The most interesting facet of The Sunlight Pilgrims is the promise of a global apocalypse, but the author treats this element of the book as an afterthought. The main characters are stationary in their desires and personalities. There are no quotation marks, and identifiers are rarely used, so the dialogue is difficult to follow.

Borrowing the words of Jeff Vandermeer: "Please also recognize that no good ever came from not putting dialogue between quotation marks, or use of some other easily not
lark benobi
Aug 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016, uk, europe, hogarth
I'm torn on how to review this novel. I recognize the writing as unique and I feel that Fagan was trying for something new, and taking chances, which are always things to be applauded. And it also feels to me as if many people will enjoy this book--possibly fans of Neil Stephenson and William Gibson--even though I didn't enjoy it myself. For me the story felt underdeveloped, and the syntax felt a little unmoored from any concrete idea I could make for myself about what it meant. There are too ma ...more
Freda Mans-Labianca
Jun 15, 2016 rated it did not like it
Not for me.
I am so sad that this book flopped for me. I really wanted to like it... I do love dystopian reads, but I felt so confused by most of it.
So much detail, and yet I often felt like the pieces went nowhere. I was waiting for the moment when I would be like, okay, wow, but it didn't come. I was confused by Dylan and Constance more than anyone in the book and I thought it was supposed to be centered around Stella.
Was I not supposed to get it? Did I miss something?
I don't know.
Yup, this boo
Joy D
“There are three suns in the sky and it is the last day of autumn—perhaps forever. Sun dogs. Phantom suns. Parhelia. They mark the arrival of the most extreme winter for 200 years. Roads jam with people trying to stock up on fuel, food, water. Some say it is the end of times. Polar caps are melting. Salinity in the ocean is at an all-time low. The North Atlantic Drift is slowing.” – Jenni Fagan, The Sunlight Pilgrims

Climate fiction set in the near future as the world experiences extreme cold cau
The world’s on the brink of something devastating possibly the dawning of a new ice age. Somewhere in the hills of Scotland, out beyond Edinburgh, a disparate group of people are living in a small, rundown caravan park, as temperatures plummet, they’re slowly transformed into something like family. At their core newly-arrived, grief-stricken Dylan, so tall children think he’s a giant come to life; brittle but compassionate single mum Constance and daughter 12-year-old Stella, who used to be Cal; ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Play Book Tag: [Poll Ballot] The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan - 3 stars 1 3 Oct 26, 2020 11:54AM  
Apocalypse Whenever: July 2018: "The Sunlight Pilgrims" by Jenni Fagan 126 81 Jul 29, 2018 11:39AM  
Recipes 1 2 Apr 22, 2018 07:47AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Stillicide
  • Find Me
  • MacArthur Park
  • Sightlines
  • One Girl and Her Dogs: Life, Love and Lambing in the Middle of Nowhere
  • How Britain Ends: English Nationalism and the Rebirth of Four Nations
  • Bitterhall
  • The Young Team
  • The High House
  • A Ghost in the Throat
  • Orleans
  • Light Perpetual: A Novel
  • Happiness is Wasted on Me
  • Hurdy Gurdy
  • Whirligig
  • L'Arabe du futur 5 : Une jeunesse au Moyen-Orient, 1992-1994
  • Boy Parts
See similar books…
Jenni Fagan has published three fiction novels, five books of poetry and had scripts produced for stage and screen.

Jenni is an award winning, critically acclaimed poet and novelist. She is published in eight languages. A Granta Best of Young British Novelist (once-in-a-decade-accolade), Scottish Novelist of the Year (2016), Pushchart nominated, on lists for BBC International Short Story Prize, Imp

Related Articles

This May, as we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we wanted to take an opportunity to shine a light on some of the...
225 likes · 40 comments
“When grown-ups hear a little dark door creaking in their hearts they turn the telly up. They slug a glass of wine. They tell the cat it was just a door creaking. The cat knows. It jumps down from the sofa and walks out of the room. When that little dark door in a heart starts to go click-clack click-clack click-clack click-clack so loudly and violently their chest shows an actual beat - well, then they say they've got bad cholesterol and they try to quit using butter, they begin to go for walks.
When the tiny dark door in her heart creaks open, she will walk right through it.
She will lie down and inside her own heart like a bird in the night.”
“Now he knows something he did not know before—there is a totality to silence. It makes his bones ache.” 3 likes
More quotes…