*I received this book from PGC Books in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: The Christmas Lights
Author: Karen Swan
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publication Date: October 30, 2018
Synopsis from Goodreads:
December 2018, and free-spirited influencers Bo Loxley and her partner Zac are living a life of wanderlust, travelling the globe and sharing their adventures with their millions of fans. Booked to spend Christmas in the Norwegian fjords, they set up home in a remote farm owned by enigmatic mountain guide Anders and his fierce grandmother Signy. Surrounded by snowy peaks and frozen falls, everything should be perfect. But the camera can lie and with every new post, the ‘perfect’ life Zac and Bo are portraying is diverging from the truth. Something Bo can’t explain is wrong at the very heart of their lives and Anders is the only person who’ll listen. The mountains keep secrets – Signy knows this better than anyone – and as Bo’s life begins to spiral she is forced, like the old woman before her, to question who is friend and who is foe.
The Christmas Lights was everything I hoped for in a fluffy Christmas story driven by wanderlust and fully of scenic Norwegian fjords. It’s the perfect book for cuddling up with in front of the fireplace. What’s it about? Social media influencers and real-life couple Bo and Zac are travelling the world, promoting products and making a comfortable living by putting their relationship and outdoor adventures on display. If you don’t have the bug to hope on a plane to Norway when you’re finished reading this, then I don’t know what’s wrong with you! 😉
This is my first Karen Swan book and I can’t say that I’m totally hooked on her after reading this, but her Christmas books appeal to me in the same way that I can’t stop listening to Nicholas Sparks audiobooks. It’s not for the overwhelmingly mind-blowing prose, but there’s something comforting about reading a fluff piece with a relatively simple plot, a whirlwind romance, and a gorgeous setting. What was quite compelling about this story is that there’s a dark side to it which creates added suspense and attempts to make the second half of the book almost into an intense mystery/thriller. The lovely Christmas spirit is overshadowed with an unknown dark presence that threatens the free-spirited existence of the protagonist.
The characters weren’t anything special, but they drive the plot. I didn’t really believe the relationship between the main characters, but I suppose that’s the point. Their relationship is meant to unravel right from the get go and you can really tell. I wasn’t enthralled by the new romance that springs up as the story progresses either. You can see it coming a mile away so there’s no real will-they-wont-they suspense. I wish I could have enjoyed Bo a little bit more, but I really wanted her to be more concrete. She felt like a phantom imagination of what a social media traveler might be, but not really like a real girl. She lacked a lot of conviction. Her boyfriend is pretty terrible, but we’re supposed to not like him, so Swan succeeds in that. Everyone fell pretty flat. Even the antagonist in the end was not as terrifying as he’s built up to be.
Overall though, the scenic descriptions and breathtaking setting made up for it and I was perfectly content to read. I’ve even checked out another one of Swan’s books from the library. This definitely isn’t a bad read if you’re looking for something light to read this Christmas season!