There are many words I could use to describe Lute by Jennifer Thorne. I could say words like “atmospheric” or “haunting.” I could also say “beautiful” or “terrifying.” Lute is a book that evokes many descriptors, but none really captures the story in its totality. The blurb from Tor Nightfire says “Wickerman meets Final Destination.” That description is about as accurate as it gets.
Lute is an island off the coast of Scotland, a typical specimen of its type filled with rocky shorelines, clumps of forest, and rolling windswept hills. It’s a destination for birders, hikers, and those looking to disconnect from the mainland for a while. It’s truly a lovely place. The people who live there love it so much that they’re willing to die for it. It just so happens that they’ll be asked by the island’s magical ancestors to do just that every seventh summer. Seven people will die on a single day. No more, no less.
Nina Treadway is a citizen of Lute on The Day. A good portion of the book is spent introducing us to the locals and helping us understand Nina’s place on the island as the newest Lady of the Treadway family. Despite her foreign roots, the locals seem to adore Nina and they try their best to prepare her for that day.
The island’s inhabitants are as lovely as the island itself, and the scene of the story is truly idyllic. When that dreadful day actually comes, it is quite jarring. I found the juxtaposition of the peaceful, loving community and then 24 hours of absolute hell to be quite the ride. It’s a bit surreal to experience terror alongside those kinds of positive feelings. I wasn’t expecting such a beautiful story of love, grief, and sacrifice.
I listened to Lute on Macmillan Audio and enjoyed the experience. It’s narrated by Victoria Blunt who has a knack for accents which helps maintain the atmosphere of the remote Scottish island. If you read Lute, I highly recommend that you give the audio version a try.