False Lights

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Cornwall, 1817

Napoleon has won the Battle of Waterloo and England is under French occupation.

A half-drowned girl washes up on a Cornish beach, escaping soldiers after the murder of her sea captain father.

An aristocratic soldier-spy, haunted by his part in the defeat at Waterloo, plans to spring the Duke of Wellington from captivity.

Together they become enmeshed in a web of treachery and espionage stretching from London to the Isles of Scilly.


The beautiful artwork for the paperback edition of False Lights comes from The Library, a painting by the artist Elizabeth Colomba. Elizabeth's work is included in the permanent collections of the Studio Museum, Harlem, and Princeton University. 

Head here for an extract, and scroll down to see reviews/press and see some of the imagery that inspired False Lights.

Published on 7th Sep 2017 by Head of Zeus


“Those who like their action on the swashbuckling side will enjoy this fabulous debut set in a world in which Napoleon won the Battle of Waterloo. A cross between Georgette Heyer, Dorothy Dunnett and Poldark”

"The quality of the story in itself is sufficient to carry this novel, but excellent writing and characterisation pushes it up several notches — with special mention for Hester: a fizzing-with-life, believable and resourceful heroine if ever there was one."
Daily Mail

"Featuring Cornish separatist rebels, Napoleon’s brother Jerome on the English throne, and a mixed-race heroine (not to mention another particularly wonderful depiction of a working-class woman whose capacity for military strategy wins her the Duke of Wellington’s respect), it’s like a glorious mashup of Frenchman’s Creek and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (but without the magic.)
Elle Thinks

"Rugged scenery combined with even more rugged leading men and feisty leading ladies does make this a book that one can easily compare to Poldark - but Whittaker provides depth and nuance to her characters - meaning that the intensity of the plot is only amplified by quite how much she makes you care about the characters it revolves around"
The Bookbag

"Wars, murder, rebellion, slavery, PTSD, bravery and love, all scrambled into this one hell of a ride for both characters and readers"
Our First Year Here

"K J Whittaker draws the reader into a world full of adventure, romance, treachery, and espionage, with believable characters and wonderfully evocative settings of Scilly, Cornwall and London"
Mostly Books

"Witty, exciting and heartfelt, the book had me hooked, from the minute I picked it up until I put it down at four o’clock in the morning"
The Roaring Bookworm

"Adventurous, dark, brooding and mysterious"
Rachel Bustin


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BBC Radio 4
Today programme

Shropshire Star
Katy's book imagines French invasion

Stephanie Burgis
Guest Post: False Lights

Female First
10 Things I'd Like My Readers To Know About Me By K.J. Whittaker

The Inspiration Behind False Lights