The Light of the Fireflies, by Paul Pen

The Light of the Fireflies, by Paul Pen (translated by Simon Bruni)
Published by Amazon Crossing, 1st April 2016 (first published in 2013)
Genres: Fiction, mystery, thriller, suspense, family drama
Format: Kindle eBook
Source: Purchased

Trigger warnings: murder, rape, incest, violence


The boy lives in a basement with his family: father, mother, grandmother, brother and sister. They live in the basement because they cannot go outside. Apart from the boy, the whole family was horribly scarred during a fire. The sister was so disfigured that she has to wear a mask all the time.

The boy is perfectly content with his life, as he has never known anything else. But after his sister has a baby, things begin to change. Everyone is acting oddly and the boy begins to wonder about the outside world.

My thoughts

Let me start off by saying that this book will not be for everyone. I would compare it to Room by Emma Donoghue. If you read Room and loved it, then chances are you will also love this one. If not, maybe give this one a miss.

This is such a dark and mysterious book. I was not expecting it because this was one of my Kindle purchases which had sat there for so long, I had forgotten what it was about and why I originally bought it. But I loved it! It was such a gripping page-turner and I just could not put it down.

The characters are never named which really adds to the overall feeling of tension and mystery. I am trying very hard not to give anything away in this review, because I think that the less you know going into this book, the better.

The author does give us some clues, although I completely missed them and went straight to the obvious conclusion. But it was so cleverly written and the translation is amazing.

Halfway through, the story jumps back in time, to provide the reader with some context and explain the events leading up to the fire and their life in the basement. Once again, I was completely surprised!

A great, dark and mysterious book, but with some heavy themes and definitely not for everyone.

My rating: 5/5

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