I can barely remember this book, I read it early to mid-2000's. It was a young adult book.

  1. The book takes place on a small island, I believe off the coast of Ireland or England, where fishing, and specifically fish(or whale?) oil is a big deal.
  2. The main character is a boy.
  3. There is a big magical fish that has a legend around it.
  4. At one point the main character is dragged/taken down under the ocean and walks around under the sea.(I remember a specific part where he takes off his boots to swim and then regrets it later)
  5. There's this big message about how the island doesn't need to use fish/whale oil to do everything anymore because they have like synthetic oil on the mainland, but the people on the island don't want to change their ways.

The only thing else I can remember about the book is that I believe it starts with a wake.

Thanks, any help would be great!

  • This sounds vaguely familiar.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Mar 2, 2018 at 16:45
  • Aw man... I'm slacking. Can you also go to scifi.stackexchange.com/tags/story-identification/info and look at those questions? Answering them, and editing said answers into your question, will help us a great deal. Like, when did you read this? What country? Do you remember about how long it was? Paperback? Hardback? Any details about the cover?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Mar 2, 2018 at 17:09
  • 1
    @FuzzyBoots I tried to add as much as I could. Mar 2, 2018 at 19:35
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    The Lampfish of Twill by Janet Taylor Lisle is a possibility. The boy kicks off his boots and walks underneath the sea. There are wakes, but the characters call them "weeps"
    – Frock
    Mar 2, 2018 at 22:09
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    @Frock yes that's it! thank you so much! Mar 3, 2018 at 20:36

1 Answer 1


The Lampfish of Twill by Janet Taylor Lisle. 1991.

Along the coastline of Twill, life is precarious. Murderous currents, deadly whirlpools, and violent storms so endanger the lives of its fisher folk that the standard greeting is "Congratulations"--for having survived another day. "Weeps" or wakes for drowned friends are common. Celebrations, like those after the netting of a giant lampfish, whose bones make fishhooks and whose meat feeds an entire village, are few and riotous. The story focuses on two inhabitants of this imagined but recognizable landscape. Orphaned Eric lives with his unsentimental Aunt Opal, lavishing love meant for his drowned parents on Gully, a sea gull he rescued from the waves and raised from infancy. Eric's obsessive attempts to net a lampfish single-handed are thwarted by the mysterious, half-mad Ezekiel Cantrip, the only known survivor of a descent into a whirlpool.


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