Review: Lightkeepers by Kennedy Plumb

*We received this book in exchange for an honest review.*

In this modern day retelling of Rapunzel, Zella grew up in a cult and Ryder is in foster care.

Zella is 17 years old and ready for her life to begin. She loves her mom and has never questioned the reasons why her mom has kept her isolated in the past, but she’s starting to become restless. Being a “Child of the Lighthouse” provides her safety in a scary world, or at least that’s what her mother says.

The Lighthouse requires all children to be completely isolated until they are 18, when they can officially serve the organization (cult). When they turn 18, their job is to have kids and work on recruiting more members/generating donations.

At the same time, Ryder isn’t looking forward to moving again and starting at a new school. Everything always ends up the same. He’s ignored by the families he lives with, who just want him for the money provided by the state. Even if this new couple is friendly and kind so far, he doesn’t trust that it’s going to last that long.

At least Ryder is invited to a beach party during his first week at his fancy new private school. It’s a way for him to make an impression and build a reputation for himself. But everything goes wrong the night of the beach party, leading to Ryder trying to escape from the cops in the middle of a storm. Kids like Ryder can’t afford to get in trouble.

While on the run, Ryder discovers a Lighthouse to take shelter in. There’s a rope ladder outside that leads to an unlocked window. When Ryder let’s himself in, he has no idea what he’s stumbled into. Zella threatens him, but when she takes a second to analyze the situation, she realizes that Ryder is her ticket to freedom. And wow does a day in the real world sound exciting.

Through the course of the night, Zella and Ryder experience a connection neither of them thought was possible. From a boat ride at sea to hanging out at the diner, the two can’t believe what they feel for each other.

But not everything they discover is good. In fact, Ryder and Zella have both been lied to their entire lives and with the other’s help, they can finally learn the truth about the cult and why Ryder was put in foster care. Set in a New England beach town, Lightkeepers will make you happy that you didn’t grow up in a dangerous cult.

We liked the idea of a Rapunzel retelling, so we requested Plumb’s book on NetGalley. While we liked it overall, there were some parts that could have been better.

First of all, we like the modern changes, like putting Zella in a cult and her mom being the leader. It added some depth to the situation because Zella wasn’t the only child who grew up in isolation. Zella’s mom was able to trick desperate mothers to join her cause and have vulnerable people make donations to her “foundation.”

As for Ryder, we did like his character growth. He felt realistic based on his previous trauma and it was nice to see him start to trust people. We also like that Plumb shed a light on the problems within the American foster care system. It gave us The Fosters vibes, a show that used to air on Freeform.

We also liked the big reveals at the end, which connected Ryder and Zella. It was darker than we expected for a YA contemporary. It did make sense though and explained both Zella’s and Ryder’s childhoods. There had to be a reason that the two of them had such difficult childhoods.

However, we wish the book had been longer and had more depth. Things started to happen too quickly near the end. We get that it’s based on the original fairytale and the Disney movie Tangled, but with a novel, it shouldn’t have been insta-love between Zella and Ryder. We wish Plumb took her time to show the connection grow. Like maybe Zella snuck out for a longer period of time before her mom found out.

Without giving the ending away, we felt Lightkeepers needed more tension at the end. It’s a super dark brainwashing cult and Zella’s mom isn’t above using brute force to get her way. There needed to be more at stake and a longer build-up to the action.

Also, the solution to the problems that the characters faced happened top quickly. We wish Plumb gave the reader more time to be nervous as she built the suspense. It felt a little too easy for everyone and solution worked out almost immediately after the characters understood the problem.

Overall, it’s a cute novel and a creative take on a classic story. If you liked the movie Tangled, you’re going to enjoy Lightkeepers. It’s a super quick read and can be completed in an afternoon.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐/⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

19 thoughts on “Review: Lightkeepers by Kennedy Plumb”

  1. Well, this sure sounds interesting! At the same time, I’ll admit that I found it a bit surprising that it had such dark themes when it’s advertised as a light contemporary YA! The cover alone would’ve duped me into thinking cutesy romcom, not dangerous cults and fraught childhoods. I appreciated your review of it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t heard of this book before. I am interested in what others are reading to get recommendations. You have shared an honest review which is always good to know. Thank you for sharing your honest thoughts and experience of this book.



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