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The Lighthouse Land
Adrian McKinty
Narrated by Gerard Doyle, unabridged
Blackstone Audio, 10 hours

The Lighthouse Land
Adrian McKinty
Adrian McKinty was born and grew up in Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland. Educated at Oxford University, he then immigrated to New York City, where he lived in Harlem for five years, working in bars and on construction crews, as well as a stint as a bookseller. He is the author of Hidden River and Dead I Well May Be, which was short-listed for the Crime Writers' Association Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award. He lives in Denver, Colorado.

Adrian McKinty Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Sarah Trowbridge

Talk about a young hero coming up from reduced circumstances. Jamie O'Neill, at age 13, has lost his left arm and his voice as a result of a bout with bone cancer. The arm was amputated in order to provide a supply of healthy bone marrow to replace the diseased tissue and save his life, but Jamie was not consulted and finds himself deeply resentful of the loss. The disappearance of his voice is not physical in origin, but brought about by the psychological response to the trauma of the illness and the amputation. To make matters worse, Jamie's father left him and his mother at the height of the boy's illness, moving across the country to remarry and start a new family, leaving his old one in the lurch.

Jamie and his mother Anna are living in a decrepit uptown tenement in New York City, not really making ends meet, with Anna working as a legal secretary, trying to pay Jamie's medical bills and attempting to cope with her son's continued silence and lingering alienation from nearly everyone. The future looks bleak, until one day Anna receives a letter revealing that a distant relative has died and left her the sole heir to a small island and a lighthouse off the coast of Northern Ireland. Without hesitation, Jamie and his mother pull up stakes and set off across the Atlantic to begin a new life in Lighthouse House on tiny Muck Island near Carrickfergus.

When he gets to Muck Island, he soon learns that his remarkable reversal of fortune is even more wondrous and strange than it already seems, for Jamie O'Neill is the inheritor of the ancient title "Laird of Muck, Guardian of the Passage," and there's a whole lot more to the lighthouse than meets the eye. Despite his inability to speak, Jamie soon finds a firm friend in Ramsay, a local boy his own age in the nearest mainland village of Portmuck. Jamie and Ramsay attend Carrickfergus School together and begin to explore the island. What they find in a hidden chamber at the top of the lighthouse tower proves that the phrase "Guardian of the Passage" is far more than a ceremonial honorific. In the uppermost lighthouse room is the Salmon of Knowledge, a mysterious device apparently designed and constructed by people with access to far more advanced technology than ours. With it the boys travel instantly via wormhole through countless light-years of time and space, to the city of Aldan on the planet Altair, a world that is slowly freezing over and meanwhile being destroyed from within by the hostilities of warring nations.

In Aldan, Jamie and Ramsay are recognized as "the Lords Ui Neill," miraculous rescuing warriors from ancient legend. Many centuries previously, an O'Neill ancestor from Elizabethan times visited Altair in a similar time of crisis and became known as "Morgan of the Red Hand," a great hero. This time, Jamie's arrival coincides with the invasion of Aldan by the fearsome Alkhavans, bearing down from the frozen North in their massive, imposing ice ships. A teenage girl of Aldan named Wishaway recruits Jamie and Ramsay to fulfill the legendary promise of the Ui Neill and deliver her people from destruction by the marauding Alkhavan forces.

Also the author of dark and gritty action thrillers for adults, Adrian McKinty launched a fantasy adventure trilogy with The Lighthouse Land, first published in a print edition in 2006. From the discovery of the secret upstairs room of the lighthouse and the mysterious device it conceals, to the chaotic war time streets of Aldan and the decks of an Alkhavan ice ship, this is high adventure for middle grade and young adult listeners. Veteran audiobook reader Gerard Doyle is a natural for the tale. His Irish background lets him voice Ramsey with a convincing lilt, and he does fine with the other characters, giving them variations on a mid-Atlantic accent that does not try too hard to be one way or another. Listeners will thrill as Jamie grapples with his inner demons at the same time that he struggles to vanquish the Alkhavans and restore peace and order to Aldan. Though the resolution at the close of The Lighthouse Land is more decisive and satisfying than one usually finds at the end of Book 1 of a trilogy, knowing that there's further adventure in store for Jamie and company in the frontiers of time and space will bring listeners back for more.

Copyright © 2011 Sarah Trowbridge

Sarah Trowbridge reads (and listens) compulsively, chronically, and eclectically. She is a public librarian in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.

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