In The Lightkeepers, we follow Miranda, a nature photographer who travels to the Farallon Islands, an exotic and dangerous archipelago off the coast of California, for a one-year residency capturing the landscape. Her only companions are the scientists studying there, odd and quirky refugees from the mainland living in rustic conditions; they document the fish populations around the island, the bold trio of sharks called the Sisters that hunt the surrounding waters, and the overwhelming bird population that, at times, creates the need to wear hard hats as protection from their attacks.
Shortly after her arrival, Miranda is assaulted by one of the inhabitants of the islands. A few days later, her assailant is found dead, perhaps the result of an accident. As the novel unfolds, Miranda gives witness to the natural wonders of this special place as she grapples with what has happened to her and deepens her connection to (and her suspicions of) her companions, all while falling under the thrall of the legends of the place nicknamed "the Islands of the Dead". And when more violence occurs, each member of this strange community falls under suspicion.
The Lightkeepers upends the traditional structure of a mystery novel - an isolated environment, a limited group of characters who might not be trustworthy, a death that may or may not have been accidental, a balance of discovery and action - while also exploring wider themes of the natural world, the power of loss, and the nature of recovery. It is a luminous debut novel from a talented and provocative new writer.
©2016 Abby Geni (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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"Mystery, thriller, and nature all done very well"
Before reading The Lightkeepers, Andrea Barrett was the only author I had read who could evoke science and the natural world in beautiful, almost poetic, prose, but I was pleased to discover that Abby Geni has that same skill. She tells the story of six biologists and Miranda, a nature photographer, living together on the Farallon Islands, a wildlife refuge 30 miles off the coast of California. This setting is perfect for a book that has a bit of everything, mystery, psychological thriller, wildlife, and wilderness, and does all of them well. The Lightkeepers is an interesting and unique story about the quirky humans trying to live on the island, observe, not interact, and take only what they need, and the birds, mice, bats, seals, whales, and sharks that are the real inhabitants of the island. Geni states that "one of the great illusions of the human experience is that we are somehow outside of nature — beyond the food chain — that we are not animals ourselves. I hope to both explore and challenge that illusion." She does this incredibly well in this 4.5 star book.
Xe Sands is the impeccably perfect narrator for this book. There were several instances where I felt as if she was indeed Miranda, speaking directly to me. I've never done this before, but I will be making one of my next Audible book choices based primarily on Xe Sands being the narrator.
"Don't Understand the Hype"
I really wanted to like this book. It got great review, it's on everyone's "must read" list. But let me tell you two very important things: 1) This book is NOT a mystery or thriller. It's a drama with a very tiny dash of "whodunit" (and you start to wonder if ANYONE did "do it" or if the plot is all just a series of accidents). 2) This narrator, Xe Sands, has the most annoying, disconcerting vocal fry. I honestly could barely stand to listen to this book. Sorry, Xe, I'm sure you're lovely in real life, but your voice is GRATING. Also the narrator's tone and cadence only adds to the depressing nature of this book, which slowed down the action for me.
The setting of the Faralon Islands is fascinating, but the story focuses too much -- for me -- on the various animals, how they breed, etc., etc. I got bored of the animal-and-nature focus after about 1/3 of the way in and kept waiting for the THRILLER part to start. It never really does. I'm not saying things don't happen -- there's violence and people die. But the ending (the wrap up) is 100% a cop-out. I truly felt cheated, especially after I stuck with this and slogged through to the end.
At times, the writing was engaging. The author is clearly a budding talent. But approach this story as a drama and maybe actually read it, so you can avoid having your ear vocal fried off.
"Lovely cover art..."
Narrator's voice was incredibly hard to listen to - I will avoid her in the future.
Plot was intriguing at first, but verged on the ridiculous as the book went on.
"Emotional Human Story on Farallon Island"
This is a good one! Do some research about the Farallon Islands (Google images too) and you will find yourself immersed in this book from the start. It is an emotional story about great human loss and how both humans and the wilds of nature deals with loss. The Farallon Island setting (west of California in the Pacific) makes this a bit eerie; and Miranda, the central character, seems a bit eerie herself; having difficulty expressing emotions and generating any emotional response to the people around her. In the story there is an artist at work making images of the Farallon world, scientists observing (and not affecting) island nature, crime, death, love, and a vast array of other human emotions and experiences set against the backdrop of a somewhat violent natural setting of the ocean and the remote islands. The story is a narrative for the most part and within it, a huge helping of knowledge about the fauna and flora of the Farallon Islands. Readers will learn a great deal while following a very engaging story.
"Vivid story, easy listen"
I enjoyed this story. Written in the first person-the main character Miranda. There's tons of nature, animals, and photography jargon of sorts. The ending was pretty predictable, but not in a negative way. Good story, definitely recommend for possibly a female audience, who doesn't mind a slightly depressing character trying to find her way in life.
"A perfect confluence of writing and narration"
This novel is a wonder. Abby Geni's sparse prose is perfectly delivered by Xe Sands, transporting us to the harsh landscape of the Farralon Islands and requiring us to take up residence among its flawed and brilliant inhabitants, human and otherwise.
"this story will haunt me for a long time"
i didn't expect to like this book as much as i did. when i started, i thought it was actually going to bore me, but boy was i wrong. the language is sparse yet beautiful...great imagery...interesting characters and a well kept secret that keeps the book afloat.
i was moved and deeply affected by the choice of the author to use letters to the narrator's deceased mother as a way of moving the story along-- kind of heartbreaking, but really well done.
this is a sad solemn story, but somehow it feels like it needed to be told.
"I was fascinated every single minute"
Abby Geni and Xe Sands are a perfect match. Beautifully written, beautifully read. I learned a great deal, too. I hope Geni has a long and happy career and I intend to see what else Sands has narrated.
"I was truly shocked with how good this book was!"
I already have.
This book is beautifully and elegantly written. Abby Geni does an incredible job describing the emotions and feelings of the characters in this book, Not to mention the her description of the Farallon island and it's captivating wildlife.
The LightKeepers is going on my favorites list next to, Little Women, Women In White, Sherlock Holmes, and The Awakening.
The one thing I didn't like at all was the description that was given by Audible's, by telling about the attack it gives away too much, and hurts the storyline.
I can't wait for her next book!
"Spooky and Strange"
Before you decide on trying this book do yourself a favor and do an internet search for the Farallon Islands and research the place where the action occurs. There is a serious mixed history for this location. Also, be aware that the level of creepiness in this tale by far surpasses the mystery in the story. The book is heavily and weirdly first person narrative which complicates what is a fairly straight forward story. Wild nature and wild humans run amuck. Island life is captured. Confusion and mayhem reign. Sands delivers an emotional reading which is at times hard to understand but at the same time compelling. An interesting diversion. In the end a very strange book.
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