Pendziwol's 'The Lightkeeper's Daughters' Review

Updated: May 10, 2019

Book: 'The Lightkeeper's Daughters'

Author: Jean E. Pendziwol Genre: Fiction Pages: 300 Published: July 2017 (UK)

I must first make two announcements. The first, being that I am now reviewing modern texts. *Gasps*. Second, that I admit to selecting my first modern text through judging a book by its cover. *Screams*.

Now, for the few of you that remain to see this post through – I thank you. While I now also turn my attention to modern texts, the classics are still a very strong part of me and I will continue to read and review them too. However, seeing as I have not read a modern text in so many years, I grew eager to read works from a modern author and to discover whether there could be any potential favourites out there, waiting to be read.

Written by Jean E. Pendziwol and published in July 2017, I was drawn to the text due to the beautiful cover picturing Porphyry Island’s lighthouse with twin sisters Elizabeth and Emily playing by the rocks. The story follows troubled teen Morgan who meets a resident at a nursing home, named Elizabeth, after Morgan is sent there to complete her restorative rehabilitation. A friendship begins to grow between the two of them, as together they discover the secrets of the light keeper. Bursting with questions and mysteries, with only Elizabeth’s memory and her father’s diaries shining a light (huh, get it! Lighthouse, lightkeeper. No? I’ll see myself out…) on the answers, can they discover the truth about her past?

The characters themselves are interesting, yet a little predictable. Morgan especially shows some stereotypical characteristics of a teenager in the care system, at least those often demonstrated by authors. She often uses very strong language so I wouldn’t recommend this text to people who don’t like swearing, and if I had known just how much bad language there was in this text then I would have been hesitant to purchase the novel. Nevertheless, Morgan does portray strong characteristics, through her defiance, strength and eagerness to help an elderly woman with her troubling past. Elizabeth is also a strong character. Despite her blindness, she lives a mostly independent life and shows a high resilience to whatever challenges are thrown at her.

The novel quickly introduces the characters and delves straight into the plot. The extracts from the light keeper’s diaries and Elizabeth’s reminiscing both display wondrous imagery about life on the island and the running of the lighthouse. Using such intricate details, you truly do feel absorbed into the text and the life which Emily and Elizabeth held. A steady read throughout, and I found it easy to keep the pages turning with no dull or extensively long passages of text. Towards the end of the novel however, I found myself having to resist skipping to the end of the page as the secrets of the island and Elizabeth’s family begin to unfold.

I enjoyed Penziwol’s style of writing, with the previously mentioned imagery that she creates. My only critique is that I began to find the amount of polysyndeton unnecessary and repetitive. I would also like to add a note – considering that this is also a mental health themed blog – that there is a suggestion of non-consensual sexual themes which some readers may find distressing to read. Yet, there is no direct mention of this and it is implied as another mystery for the reader to assume or make guesses about.

Penziwol’s novel is difficult to review without revealing the secrets which make it such a compelling read. I would recommend this text, and rate it a 4 out of 5. Only because I remain unsure as to whether I would reread this text, despite it being a gripping read. It’s definitely a novel that keeps you guessing throughout, and even now some questions and ideas are still buzzing around my head.

Nevertheless, I hope you’ve enjoyed my first modern book review, and let me know if you’ve either read or are thinking of reading this text – and of course your thoughts and opinions on it too!

Take care, Sophie x

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