Sunday, 17 February 2013

The Lighthouse - a dark read

Recently I read the short story The Lighthouse by Karen Heard.

I was in the mood for something quick, dark and mysterious - and that's exactly what I got.

The Lighthouse tells the story of a young girl, the lighthouse keeper's daughter, who has been left by her parents to fend for herself while maintaining the light -

"... our lighthouse [the] only guide past the treacherous reefs and hidden rocks that guard the passageway."
The lighthouse had offered protection for the many sea vessels that passed the dangerous waters of ocean, but over time, the boats stopped coming.  Then the girl's mother left.  Followed by her father.

We read the story through the young girl's narrative.  She begins by relaying her responsibility to maintain the light.  We also learn at the beginning that it has been forty days since her father left her, ostensibly to search for her mother who had left earlier.  However, there are hints weaved throughout the narrative that make us wonder about the world outside the lighthouse, and if it still exists.

As the story progresses we learn more about the girl's mother and we imagine her reasons for leaving the island.  Moreover, we come to understand more about her father as his actions are recalled by the girl.

The writing is excellent.  Dark imagery is weaved throughout and adds to the maddening sense of isolation experienced by the protagonist. The experience of fear and loneliness is portrayed so convincingly, and reminds me a little of Poe's style.

As we read, the mystery builds and we realise, with the girl (who remains nameless throughout), what might be happening 'out there', and between her parents.

My only complaint is the ending - I wanted more.

I considered this story a great find.  It's a nice read for those of us who enjoy dark mysteries.


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