Posts Tagged ‘The Skintaker’



Length: 272 Pages

Publisher: Samhain Horror

Release Date: February 7, 2012

Review copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review

Lately I have been on a huge Samhain Horror kick and it seems like all the books I have been sent for review and books I have read on my own have been through this publisher. I first started reading Samhain Horror through Hunter Shea’s work and ever since then I have been exposed to a ton of excellent authors. Frazer Lee is a name that has continuously popped up and I have been hearing a lot about his debut The Lamplighters, which was a finalist for a Bram Stoker award in the “Superior Achievement in a First Novel” category. Seeing as how I have been nothing short of impressed with the offerings of Samhain Horror, this instantly became a must-read for me.

The story focuses on Marla Neuborn, a young woman who is desperately yearning for a fresh start. Her life has been littered with tragedy and missteps and she is literally at rock bottom – living in a cramped apartment complex and scraping to get by after losing her job as a nanny. Just when it seems she has lost everything, she gets an unexpected call from The Consortium Inc. who offer her a job as a “lamplighter” on the secluded Meditrine Island. The island is home to billionaires who hire people to take care of their mansions in order to maintain their residency. All Marla has to do is clean and maintain the property, a seemingly cushy job that would be a dream come true for anyone. There are only two requirements for the job: a personality test and availability for a year. There is also a secrecy clause that prohibits Marla from knowing the exact location of the island and there is no contact with the outside world. This last requirement should set off warning bells in any horror fan’s mind as a clue that this is no ordinary island! What makes it creepy is that the island seems to not exist. There is no mention of it on the internet and is not visible on any map or Google Earth. Once Marla arrives on Meditrine Island, she meets up with another fellow Lamplighter named Jessie. Jessie has been on the island for a while and shows Marla the ropes and fills her in on some of the secrets of the island, such as the fact that there are security cameras hidden throughout the island. As Marla and Jessie begin to investigate elements of the island, they slowly begin to realize that there may be more to this job than meets the eye.

The Lamplighters is one of those books that is difficult to review because discussing what makes this story great would reveal huge spoilers about the book. What I can say is that while much of the book seems to explore similar themes as other horror works, it is far from a rehash of genre tropes. Lee puts his own unique and horrifying spin on these themes and crafts a stunning conclusion that you will have to read to believe. The novel builds suspense gradually, creating a sense of impending terror that looms throughout the story. While The Lamplighters mostly utilizes suspense and an intriguing mystery behind the truth of the island to move the story forward, Lee also incorporates gore and violence in a way that enhances the story and does not seem overbearing.

The characters were all believable and well described, but it is a character known only as the Skin Mechanic who steals the show despite getting little face time throughout the novel . This is easily the most frightening character of the novel and his description and what he is capable of is utterly frightening and seems ripped straight from the darkest depths of nightmares. It may not be today or even relatively soon, but I fully expect to have the Skin Mechanic pop up in my nightmares in the very near future! Lee is releasing a prequel novel titled The Skintaker in April that explores the origins of the Skin Mechanic and I am definitely looking forward to learning more about one of horror’s most original villains.

While I highly enjoyed this novel, it is the sort of novel readers will either love or hate. While there is plenty of action and a great mystery behind the story, it can seem to move slow at times. Readers who don’t mind slow building tension will love it and those looking for a faster paced story may leave feeling disappointed. There is no denying that Lee is a talented writer and his background as a screenwriter is evident throughout the pages of the novel. This would make a really great movie and while I already mentioned my excitement for The Skintaker, I think I am even more excited for the planned sequel to The Lamplighters!

Rating: 4/5


Frazer Lee’s Official Website

Samhain Horror’s Official Website

Purchase The Lamplighters on Amazon