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Pharos: A Ghost Story Hardcover – October 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews


"A highly original tale full of evocative images." -- The Glasgow Herald

"An extraordinary work...Thompson's unrelenting intellect and distinctive imaginnation is once again at the helm of Scotland's bravest writing." -- Scotland on Sunday

"From the watery depths emerges a story dripping with human evil." -- The Scotsman

"Highly enticing." -- The Bookseller (UK)

"Ingenious...Pharos rejects the classic ghost story, for an impressively disorieentating opening out of its generic rules." -- Times Literary Supplement

"It's difficult to leave it behind and emerge from this novella's ghostly spell.." -- RT Bookclub

"The elegance and accuracy with which Thompson uses language is formidable" -- The Independent (UK)

"The perfect book for anyone who loves ghost stories." -- Dallas Morning News

About the Author

Alice Thompson's first novel, Justine, was joint winner (with Graham Swift) of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction. For her second novel, Pandora's Box, she was shortlisted for the Stakis Scottish Writer of the Year. She has been Writer in Residence for the Shetland Isles and for St. Andrews University. In 2000 she won a Creative Scotland Award. Her work has been translated into six languages. She lives in Edinburgh.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; First Edition edition (October 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312318103
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312318109
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,914,096 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on October 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Twenty-seven miles off the coast of Scotland lies the island that is the home to the Jacob's Rock Lighthouse. Cameron is the principal keeper of the lighthouse and he has been alone on the island so long that he is eagerly awaiting the boat that is bringing his new assistant. When Simon arrives, the two men quickly fall into a routine, which is broken when Simon rescues a young woman who has washed up on the rocks.
When the woman regains consciousness, she has no memory of who she is or where she came from. The two men feed and clothe her and gradually she comes out of her apathetic state and takes notice of the world around her. She hears strange noises and constantly sees a young mulatto girl running around the island. Cameron insists she is imagining things and he keeps on telling her that until she is convinced that there is something evil on the island, something that Cameron is hiding from himself and her.
Readers gradually get the feeling that there is something not quite right about the people who are living on Jacob's Rock. The shipwrecked woman comes to believe that the Principal Keeper does not want her to leave but she doesn't know why. There is a mystery about him that she intends to solve but there are other forces at work on the island that intend to have their way and there is nothing the amnesiac can do to stop them. Thus the audience receives an exciting gothic-like paranormal thriller that entertains from the moment the woman arrives on the rock.
Harriet Klausner
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an intriguing and spooky, old fashioned ghost story, set in nineteenth century Scotland in a lighthouse on a remote island. At the lighthouse lives Cameron, the Principal Keeper of the Lighthouse, as well as Simon, his new assistant.

Life is very structured and routine on the island. Cameron and Simon work side by side in tandem, as they maintain the lighthouse and keep its nightly beacon of light burning brightly. They life a simple though apparently solitary life. Yet, at the opposite end of the island, a young golden girl sits in a trance by a crypt.

One day, Simon finds a woman with long dark hair and large gray eyes submerged beneath a bed of seaweed. This woman has no memory of who she is or from where she came. They arbitrarily name her Lucia after a ship that once wrecked itself on the rocks off shore. From the moment she is found, however, nothing is ever the same on that island.

Not even the arrival on the island of Charlotte, Cameron's no nonsense sister, can offset the growing sense of dread and wonder that oppressively seems to permeate the island. A sense of evil and of things being not quite right lays like a miasma over all.

This is an atmospheric and evocative novella that will keep the reader turning its pages. Those readers who like ghost stories will have an appreciation for this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Gabriel R. Dendinger on February 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
this book is so well written and the language is beautiful. that's why it's a shame that it wasn't able to keep my attention after the first half. the characters of the book morphed into something very different from their intitial description. it was charming that it was impossible to tell the supernatural from the natural players, but that grew irritating when it was not possible to tell anymore if things really happened or were only part of a characters delusions. this tool grew too contrived as the book went along.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Alyssa Donati on March 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love mysteries and supernatural stories which is why I picked this up but I must say I was really impressed with Alice Thompson's style of writing. She is one of the few writers I've come across recently who really know how to summon up the perfect adjective or metaphor. I also appreciated the plot and the suspense and read the book in one evening. The only real flaw is that one of the main characters goes beserk seemingly overnight. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys taught suspense and superb writing.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. T. Campos on October 14, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While there's no denying that the author is a gifted writer (in the sense of her verbal dexterity), the plot was too thin and frankly incomprehensible. How did Simon acquire his powers of animism? How did Cameron, the lighthousekeeper go unhinged in the way that he did? How did that little girl get there? Where is everybody going? Which one's real? Which one isn't? The lines between ghosts and human and dream figures was too blurry for me to enjoy.

The book's too short! (And maybe 15 pages were devoted to beautiful but baffling diary entries.) Only Simon, the farmer magician was developed as a character. I didn't think I had picked up a blood-curdling horror novel. But I expected a ghost story to give me, at the very least, a few shivers of uneasiness.

As it is, it just makes good copy for a travel guide for Scottish lighthouses.
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