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Publisher's Summary

A haunting and hopeful tale of discovering light in even the darkest of places.
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....
©2013 Paul Pen (P)2016 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved. Translation © 2016 Simon Bruni.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By David Shear on 04-11-16


This book is dark. I like dark and twisted, like Herman Koch and Chuck Palahniuk twisted, so I loved this book. Until the last word was spoken I didn't know how it would end. At the climax, I sat frozen for 45 minutes waiting to see what would happen. I was more invested in the characters than I even knew I was until the very end.
This book is sneaky that way. It's not just the actual story that is dark, but the writing is very stark in style, leaving you feeling empty somehow. For example, you never learn any of the characters' names. They are all referred to as how they relate to other members of the family (father, grandmother, the boy). Just that detail leaves you with a ominous, sad, trapped feeling. Paul Pen is an artist at evoking feelings as he draws you in to the story.
The narration was great in that I didn't notice Merriman at all. He faded into the background and let the story come through.
I wouldn't recommend this story to most of my friends and family. It will be loved though by those who want to be truly surprised and taken aback by a book, even if the surprises aren't pleasant.

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69 of 75 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Mimi Clifton on 05-25-16

Still trying to put into words!

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I thought so until I got to the end of the book. Then I was left scratching my head.

Would you be willing to try another book from Paul Pen and Simon Bruni - translator ? Why or why not?

Don't think so.

What does Scott Merriman bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Great inflection, mystery, tension, tenderness, scorn, etc.

Was The Light of the Fireflies worth the listening time?

I thought so until I got to the end.

Any additional comments?

First thing that comes to mind is how the sins of the father are revisited on generation after generation! Talk about twisted! This family is the definition of selfishness, self-centeredness and dysfunction - only doing what soothes their needs and desires. Forget about doing what's right or best for someone else! The ending......try explaining why your family lives in a basement to the next generation and continuing to suck them into the darkness of this sick, twisted family unit.

The mystery of the story had me hooked and kept me listening.

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25 of 28 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Sigrin on 12-30-17

Unbelievably good, 5 star plus

I was put off buying this book as I felt from the write up it would be the usual pyscho/sociopath keeping people locked in the basement, with a dash of horror, mental and physical cruelty. However because Audible will let you return a book if you don't like it, this was a good excuse to try it.

I am so pleased I did, it was unbelievably good. Luckily there was no pyschopath, just the most amazing plot, that caught my attention from the start and blew me away.

It made me question what my reaction would be to this family crisis. I understood their motives as to what they did and why, but it still left lots of questions which were revealed slowly over time in the course of the book.

I will not spoil anything for future readers, but there are so many facets to this story to talk about and mull over. I feel this book should be on a school curriculum and certainly a must for any book club as its content is noteworthy of many discussions.

I note one reviewer had compared it to the book Room, but apart from the isolation from the outside world there is no comparison in its merits. I particularly like the way it was narrated with no names for the characters, just references to my mum, grandma, sister etc. So despite the fact I know none of the characters names, I feel I know them all personally.

Enjoy, you will not be disappointed.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Karen on 06-11-17

kept me guessing...

...right to the end. fabulously acted voices were excellent. would highly recommend foe something different.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Amazon Customer on 04-20-18

Great pace, unexpected twists

Performance great, I couldn’t put it down. Some plot points didn’t really ring true but the wonder of the story more than made up for it. A really enjoyable listen

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