Review of The Old Coal Miner’s Lamp by Vicky Peplow

There’s light at the end of the mine shaft

It was a while back that I read this story but Billy has haunted me ever since.

The Old Coal Miner’s Lamp follows two central male protagonists, Billy (William) a coal miner from Ryhope who is now a ghost, much like Charon in the old greek mythologies, he ferries the dead to the other side using the light from his lamp – and Mike, a man turning to a spiritualist medium for help when he begins seeing visions of ghosts and terrible accidents related to the old mining shafts.

When I first decided to give this book a go, I was struck by the cover image. I thought it looked very interesting, the ghostly, translucent miner’s lamp in the mine shaft conjured images of spooky ghost stories and made me think back to when I was kid, reading Goosebumps and watching Are you Afraid of the Dark? It also completely encapsulated the tone and essence of the book, leaving little room for disappointment. Turns out, you really can judge a book by it’s cover.

For me this book, was really a book of two halves. For some reason it didn’t grip me straight away and took a while for me to become fully committed to the story. Whether it was the attention to detail in regards to mining and the ins and outs of the equipment and processes or the fact that it felt more like a slow burn paranormal thriller, more akin to the classics like turn of the Screw, compared to an all out shock fest horror, I don’t know.

However, I persevered because I appreciated, from a writing stand point, the details and the obvious abundant research gone in to creating the book with accuracy and integrity. And around halfway through my patience was rewarded when the story flipped and became something very different.

When I started the book I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, but I was hoping for a chilling, spine tingler of a ghost story and I didn’t get that. Instead I was treated to a historical and technical run through of mining, which isn’t a bad read just a lot for the plot as a whole. However, having grown up in a Northern working class mining town in England myself, it was both interesting and emotional reading about the many ways a miner could tragically meet their end whilst down the pit.

My own great grandfather suffered from a skin condition and bronchitis from working in those harsh and dangerous conditions and my grandma used to tell me the story of when one of the old mines near where we lived collapsed and took down a row of houses that had been built on top of it. So parts of this book hit close to home.

After that pivotal halfway mark, I couldn’t put the book down!

Some very gruesome descriptions during a rather unexpected almost Alighierian twist when the story took me to the darker side of the other, made the book markedly more interesting in terms of spook factor and piqued my more macabre sensibilities.

Overall, the Old Coal Miner’s lamp is a well written book, with lovely formatting and the use of miners images to highlight the chapters was a thoughtful and endearing touch. The glossary of terms was also a pleasant and welcome inclusion, it’s clear the author is knowledgeable in the subject she’s written about.

A ghost story, a love story but in many ways a mining story. A loving tribute to honour the miners and mining towns of Great Britain.

I gave this book

You can read more about Vicky Peplow’s writing at

And you can grab a copy of The Old Coal Miner’s Lamp at Amazon UK and Amazon US

BLURB from Amazon

After Billy loses his life in a mining accident, he becomes the carrier of the Old Coal Miner’s Lamp, helping to guide other lost souls on their way to the Light. Mike begins having strange flashes of the past and seeks out the help to make sense of what he is going through. Danielle answers the call to assist Mike with his visions, but when she too begins to have some strange sensations, will she continue to search for the truth or steer clear of the unknown? Connections will be revealed and a darkness will rear its head along the way. Will Billy, Mike, and Danielle be able to work together to overcome the obstacles and defeat the darkness?

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