Rebecca Carter's Reviews > The Christmas Lights

The Christmas Lights by Karen Swan
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The cover of this book was yelling out at me to read it next, it's just so gorgeous and Christmassy! Yet although it's set - as a whole - in Norway during winter, it's not really your normal Christmas book. Don't start reading it expecting a light book that makes you feel all warm and cosy. Christmas isn't really mentioned until about 70% of the way in, and it's only an incidental part of the story.

It's a lot darker than I imagined and has quite a bit of tension with a menacing atmosphere at times; with the isolation, and not being too sure of people's intentions. Although i wouldn't class it as a thriller, it has a vein of suspense and mystery running through it, and I'm so glad it wasn't what I was expecting. It's really well written, and with no intended disrespect as I adore my fluffy books, far exceeded the writing I was expecting to find inside the pages. I loved soaking up the descriptions of the places and Norway has been added to my travel list. Although probably not staying at a shelf farm in the winter!

The author cleverly uses a dual time line that flips between Bo (the main protagonist) in the present, and Signy back in 1936. Initially I wasn't entirely sure why there was a dual time, or really what the point of it was aside from giving background and a sense of place of the evocative Norwegian scenery, until much further into the book. Then it made sense. Usually with dual time lines I prefer one over the other, not with this book, both were as equally enticing.

What made the book feel darker and more eerie at a certain point, was exacerbated with its (very) slight parallels with a tv series I'm currently watching. Anyone whose seen the new season of Luther with the creepy stalker man in the mask, and in particular the night bus scene, will know what I mean by tension!! I was towards the end of the book, which is definitely a lot darker with its unraveling twists, and reading my kindle in bed. After watching the first episode of Luther before bed, which had me hiding behind the largest cushion in the house, I had to stop reading this book in the dark! I doubt it would have been so creepy, apart from certain similarities with Luther...which are extremely slim similarities!!!

The premise is about a pair of bloggers/instagrammers (Bo and Zac) and their photographer Lenny - the wanderlusters - who travel the world for a living/lifestyle and post every snippet of their adventures for their millions of followers to see. After a few weeks in tropical Upolu (an Island in Samoa), they head off to the winter fjordwonderland of Norway to live on a shelf farm for a month owned by an old lady called Signy and her serious Grandson Anders. They hope to see the Northern Lights as well as lots of climbing, skiing, kayaking, hikes and off the beaten adventures their followers expect. They are insta-famous and appear to lead an inspirational and perfect life to the outside world who follow their every move, yet behind the camera and once in Norway, it's clear it's not as perfect or as fairytale like as their followers are lead to believe.

This book got my reading in 2019 off to a cracking start, it's an amazing read. It isn't just a Christmas book and is full of intrigue, suspense, enchanting scenery, secrets, insights into Norwegian customs, love and heartbreak complete with a nice little twist at the end.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for the opportunity to read this ARC in return for an honest and unbiased review.
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Reading Progress

October 15, 2018 – Shelved
October 15, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
January 1, 2019 – Started Reading
January 10, 2019 – Shelved as: fiction
January 10, 2019 – Shelved as: netgalley
January 10, 2019 – Shelved as: romance
January 10, 2019 – Shelved as: contemporary-romance
January 10, 2019 – Shelved as: 2019-reads
January 10, 2019 – Shelved as: chick-lit
January 10, 2019 – Shelved as: cultural-sweden-norway-denmark
January 10, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-15 of 15 (15 new)

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JV (semi-hiatus) That cover is really gorgeous! Since this one looks like a fun adventure, I'm in for this one. A wonderful, festive review, Rebecca! 🥰

Rebecca Carter Isn't it a beauty?!😀Thank you JV 😊🙂Xx

message 3: by Paula (new)

Paula Beautiful cover and a delightful review, Rebecca!

Rebecca Carter Thanks Paula 🙂I'm sadly a sucker for a nice cover 😊

message 5: by Antoinette (new)

Antoinette Terrific review, Rebecca! I love when the first book of the year is memorable!!

Rebecca Carter Thank you Antoinette 😊Me too!! It helps ward off any potential reading slumps...😀

message 7: by Paula (new)

Paula Fantastic review, Rebecca! :) This sounds really interesting.

Rebecca Carter Thanks Paula 😊I thought it was - it far exceeded my expectations :)

RedemptionDenied Excellent review, Rebecca!

Rebecca Carter Thank you Redemption 😊🙂

message 11: by Meredith (new)

Meredith Lovely review, Rebecca! Glad you enjoyed!

message 12: by Jaline (new)

Jaline Wonderful review, Rebecca! :)

Rebecca Carter Thank you Meredith and Jaline 😊

message 14: by Mackenzie (new) - added it

Mackenzie Awesome review, Rebecca! Glad you enjoyed it, can't wait to read this one myself

Rebecca Carter Thanks Mackenzie! 😊 I hope when you get around to it you enjoy it too🤞I'll look forward to seeing what you think when you do read it

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