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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.

What listeners say about The Light of the Fireflies

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wow!

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.

72 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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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.

27 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Worst parenting ever! Book NOT recommended!

The Light of the Fireflies is a truly twisted and very, very dark story. Spanish author Paul Pen has beautifully written a novel that will likely haunt me. The book is weird in that the listener never learns the name of any of the characters; there's the dead girl, her father, the grandfather, the grandmother, the father, the mother, the sister, the brother, the baby, and the boy. Most of the book is written in the first person of the 10 year old boy.

Although I rate the book 5 stars I cannot recommend it except for people who like very dark stories. I will never listen to it again! I just hope I can forget it!

82 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Frustratingly Awful, Awfully Pretentious

It's Room: Family Edition, but with an even less reliable narrator, no apparent research or logic, and a side dish of chauvinism. Female characters are presented either as shrews or as rosary-clutching damsels. No one in the book is ever given a name - including, inexplicably, Jesus. One gets the feeling that the author intended to suggest some profound philosophical meaning through these omissions, but couldn't be bothered to think of one. Instead, the constant use of "my/your father/sister/grandma" is an irritating and clumsy gimmicks. The entire premise of why they went to the basement is built on grounds so flimsy that it is utterly impossible to believe that four adults would all agree without irony that it was the only possible solution. Spare yourself the frustration and read Room.

4 people found this helpful

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Disturbing but very good

Very captivating story. Kind of bummed at what happened at the end. Don't want to give a spoiler.

12 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Have you ever heard about the saying “the black sh

You can Google me for the rest of the review! I have a whole review of this book in my Wordpress blog:

"Inkish Kingdoms"

Well… this is when everybody in the family is good, pure, fair and nice, but there is one little mother of a sheep that is bad, dark, unfair, and totally not nice. However, in this book, this sheep is pitch black, evil, and totally unstable and crazy as a goat… so it is more like… Baphomet… Kind of… Yes… well… you will need to read it to agree with me, and trust me because you will agree with me.

I was suspended in an intriguing anxiety that this book generate in me, particularly this author, who kicked me right in the guts with his style (it is something good). Why? because you are about to find out what has happened in this freaking basement when the author just decides to go back in time 11 years! Like… really rising the levels of anxiety to its max! But it was necessary, so necessary.

The narration is a little bit slow for my taste, but you can always speed it up a little bit.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Dark

This is so depressing.......dark and weird! I would rather read a much lighter book. I don't think it's bad...just to depressing for me.

44 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Who Really Is The Monster?

This book was definitely dark and twisty. Right from the beginning, you the "something in this milk ain't clean" vibe. The story followed a boy in his extremely sheltered and sad life, that, unbeknownst to him, thought was great. There are many secrets kept from him and a lot of unexplained scenarios. This books follows a 'coming of age' story in the most minimalist of terms at a moderate to slow pace.

One aspect that I liked about the story is that the "villain" is not cut and dry from the beginning of the book. Don't get me wrong, a lot of the characters make a lot of mistakes, but the writer takes you on a journey, where my "blame of the situation" varied between the characters at different times in the book.

The narrator did a great job. I enjoyed his work and the emotion he put in the various characters and situations. I thoroughly enjoyed Scott's work and look forward to future novels read by him.

I would recommend this book. Although I felt a few parts were too long, it still kept me interested.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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110% on the OFFBEAT GOOD meter!

I love stories like this that are completely unlike anything you've read before.

Stories of human existence that - if you stop to consider how many people live in this world and how strange people are - and can be - strike me as 100% plausible.

I figure that we could find real lives as wierd and perverse as these with only a little bit of effort.

HIGHLY RECOMENDED for $8!

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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WAY darker than advertised.

just way more depressing and dark than I was expecting. it was well written but just not accurate to how it comes off in summary

22 people found this helpful

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  • Sigrin
  • 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.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Missgotty
  • 10-15-21

Bad decisions have serious consequences

Quite frankly this is a really messed up perverse story, on multiple levels. Every single character in this book is disturbingly interesting. Each of the adult characters have their own twisted reasons for their actions and terrible secrets. It was interesting that the one character I aligned with morally (in the beginning), also turned out to have their demons, which the author challenges you to forgive or condemn every step of the way. The main character is portrayed as a total innocent but I think his decision in the end was highly questionable especially growing into adulthood knowing the full bloody family history.

This book is a very disturbing read but brilliantly written. I was fully focused and engrossed in this story from start to finish. The narrator also did a great job with the various character voices which interchanged smoothly. I would definitely recommend this book, but it is not for the faint hearted.

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  • Lechoslaw B.
  • 02-19-20

a really twisted tale very easily hooked

really easy to listen to, kept me wondering right till the last. dark and twisted

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Karen
  • 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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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • newyorkhereicome
  • 03-08-17

Wonderful. A real treat

Enjoyed every minute of this book.

( if you liked the book 'Room' this is definitely one for you.)

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • BaxReview
  • 09-17-16

My thoughts

What a book. It had me riveted from start to finish!
Makes me wonder what I would do help family, and how I would cope if family put me in the situation.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 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