Saturday, 8 December 2018

The Light Of The Fireflies by Paul Pen


The Light Of The Fireflies by Paul Pen
First published in Spanish as El brillo de las luciernagas by Plaza And Janes in Spain in 2013. English language translation by Simon Bruni published in America by AmazonCrossing in April 2016.

How I got this book:
Borrowed from my partner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


For his whole life, the boy has lived underground, in a basement with his parents, grandmother, sister, and brother. Before he was born, his family was disfigured by a fire. His sister wears a white mask to cover her burns.

He spends his hours with his cactus, reading his book on insects, or touching the one ray of sunlight that filters in through a crack in the ceiling. Ever since his sister had a baby, everyone’s been acting very strangely. The boy begins to wonder why they never say who the father is, about what happened before his own birth, about why they’re shut away.

A few days ago, some fireflies arrived in the basement. His grandma said, There’s no creature more amazing than one that can make its own light. That light makes the boy want to escape, to know the outside world. Problem is, all the doors are locked. And he doesn’t know how to get out…

I read Daniela at Bookiverse's enthusiastic review of The Light Of The Fireflies a while ago which reminded me that I had this novel awaiting reading. I actually borrowed it from my partner through our linked Amazon accounts and he had been critical of the story's overall plausibility so I went into reading the book with a middling level of expectation!

This is certainly a gripping thriller. I loved Pen's descriptions of the family and their underground existence. Telling the story from different time points worked well for me. We think we understand what has happened to force this family into such extreme circumstances, but then a jump back in time reveals far darker events. I could see where my OH would have stepped back from believing, however by simply accepting that these parents could have made such an outrageous decision, I could remain invested in what they did. It is shocking to imagine how people could be driven to such lengths and I especially hated how the parents treated their daughter. At times I think this novel could be considered a horror book. There were plenty of breathtaking and scary moments for me and I begrudged occasionally having to set the book aside because I was so eager to find out how everything would be resolved.

Thinking back now in order to write this review I accept that there are hang-on-a-minute aspects that didn't quite sit right and I could have done without the final section altogether. Despite that though, The Light Of The Fireflies is an exciting novel and unlike anything I usually read so I appreciated its novelty.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Paul Pen / Horror fiction / Books from Spain

6 comments:

  1. It definitely seems like it could fit the horror bill a bit, and I LOVE the title. Thanks for your honest thoughts. I'm glad to hear you mostly enjoyed this one.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I loved this one while I was engaged in reading it! I should perhaps not have done so much thinking for the review!

      Delete
  2. Just from the blurb, this sounds quite dark. In some books you just kinda have to accept an unrealistic thing and not think about it too hard if you're going to enjoy it. Easier said than done sometimes. But I'm glad you did end up enjoying this one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, this one gets very dark! I wonder if it's something to do with the Spanish psyche because quite a lot of their artwork is disturbing too

      Delete
  3. I've had my eye on this book, but I've been on the fence about it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I'm going to add it to my TBR. 👍✨

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's certainly a weird one, but I enjoyed the bizarre ideas

      Delete