by Elvira Woodruff
I didn’t even realize that this is historical fiction until the end, when I read the blurb about history at the end of the book. I was pleasantly surprised and it gave the story so much more depth and meaning. Henry Winstanley really did design and build the first offshore lighthouse on Eddystone Reef, saving thousands of sailors’ lives each year.
I loved the writing style, the plot, the characters, and the wonderful themes of courage and family. The writing really draws the reader into this historic time and makes the setting feel immediate and real. The characters are colorful and interesting, and I really enjoyed the smart dialogue.
Digory is an excellent main character, filled with fear and anxiety at the beginning. Through the story, he ponders the meaning of courage, and wonders which is better- recklessness or caution, fear or bravery? I was so impressed with his character development, and his strong emotions that propel the story forward.
The only thing that bothered me were a few small references to other characters’ point of view. The all-knowing narrator tells us the story from Digory’s point of view, but there are a handful of comments about the internal feelings or thoughts of other characters. It’s slightly annoying because it is inconsistent with the rest of the book, but not enough to ruin my enjoyment of the book.
The plot moves quickly and with a forcefulness that kept me in suspense. I especially loved the sense of wonderment throughout the book as Digory gazes in awe at beauty or destruction or whimsy around him. His reactions to the new world he discovers outside his little fishing village are what create a dynamic and energetic story.