cover image The Lamplighter

The Lamplighter

Crystal J. Bell. Flux, $14.99 paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-63583-098-9

A teenager living in a superstitious seaside village must fight to keep her position as Lamplighter when townsfolk begin disappearing under her watch in Bell’s stunning 19th-century-set debut. After her father’s death by suicide, Temperance Byrne inherits his responsibility as Lamplighter, tasked with keeping the oil lamps throughout town lit during the night. The Massachusetts whaling village of Warbler is plagued by darkness and fog, and without the lamplight, townsfolk get lost and are often found dead the next morning, or never found at all. When the daughter of a wealthy merchant goes missing, Temperance’s competence is called into question, jeopardizing her ability to provide for her younger sister and ill mother. To save her family and prevent more disappearances, Temperance must uncover Warbler’s dark truths, and determine the origin of the threat lurking in the shadows. Bell valiantly braids edge-of-the-seat plotting, moody imagery, and evocatively rendered characters into unsettling knots. Temperance’s struggles to prove herself in her male-dominated society are explored with depth and nuance, making this chilling mystery feel at once like a classic folktale and a sharp allegory for the obstacles of modern women. Characters cue as white. Ages 14–up. Agent: Michelle Hauck, Storm Literary. (May)