Published by Delacorte Press on September 11, 2018
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Today is my stop on the Rockstar Book Tours blog tour For Colleen Houck’s latest novel, The Lantern’s Ember and I’m thrilled to be able to share my thoughts on this unique and atmospheric read with a fun Halloween-themed twist. This was my first time reading one of Colleen Houck’s books and after experiencing The Lantern’s Ember, I’m really looking forward to checking out more from her!
The Lantern’s Ember follows Jack and Ember. Jack used to be mortal until 500 years ago when he made a pact with the devil that led to him being sentenced as a Lantern. As a Lantern, his job is to guard one of the portals to the Otherworld and keep everyone – mortal and non-mortal – on their respective sides of the portal. He is supposed to immediately report to his supervisor if any mortal or supernatural creature ends up on the wrong side. Ember is a teenage witch who, thanks to Jack and his ability to conceal her witch light, has managed to live undetected in the mortal realm for most of her young life.
Until now, that is. Someone has detected Ember’s presence and wants to meet her. A handsome vampire named Dev is hired to retrieve Ember, not a difficult task since Ember has been itching to visit the Otherworld for as long as she has known of its existence. Jack, who has deemed himself Ember’s protector, has done everything in his power to deter Ember from the Otherworld, but the Vampire wins out and Ember slips away right under Jack’s nose.
Who could possibly be powerful enough to detect Ember when she should have been undetectable? How much trouble is she going to get into with her vampire in the Otherworld? Will Jack be able to find Ember now that she has a vampire cloaking her? And if he can find her, can he bring her home safely?
Ember was probably the highlight of the book for me, primarily because she’s the catalyst for much of the story’s action. She is smart, sassy, and stubborn. Because she can’t resist the call of adventure or the allure of a dashing vampire, Ember completely ignores Jack’s warnings about the dangers of crossing over to the Otherworld. Although Ember is a natural born witch, she is self-taught as to how to use her powers. The result of her lack of formal training is that she is completely clueless as to how powerful she really is until she arrives in the Otherworld. It was very entertaining watching her gradually learn how to more effectively channel her witch powers.
Aside from liking Ember, I also developed a soft spot for Jack immediately. He lives a nearly solitary existence, a shell of a man, with his soul tethered to a pumpkin that he must carry around with him. My love for Jack grew as soon as it became clear that not only has he been well aware of Ember’s presence in the mortal world since she was a small child, but instead of doing his job and turning her in, he has actually devoted himself to hiding her from those who would destroy her, serving as her self-appointed guardian. He has strong feelings for Ember but knows that nothing will ever come of them because he’s stuck being a Lantern. Jack earned bonus points from me when in spite of his sentence, he risks everything to follow Ember to the Otherworld.
There are endless wonderful secondary characters in The Lantern’s Ember as well. Finney is, by far my favorite. He’s kind of a nerd who loves to tinker and invent things. He is a mortal and he and Ember grew up together. Finney knows that Ember is a witch and helps her practice her spells. He even designs gun-like weapons for her so that she can fire her spells at those she wishes to use them on. Jack’s pumpkin apparently thinks Finney is as precious as I do because it follows Finney around like a puppy and is super protective of him.
In addition to such great characters, the other highlight for me when it comes to The Lantern’s Ember is the absolutely brilliant worldbuilding. First of all, the Otherworld is surprisingly technologically advanced, way more so than the mortal realm. As soon as I got a glimpse of it, I wanted to explore the world just as much as Ember did and found myself willing her to continue on her adventure so that I could see more. I’m not sure exactly when the story is supposed to be set, but the Otherworld appears future-esque in comparison to the mortal realm.
Even cooler than the technology, however, was the way Houck also manages to incorporate both actual historical events and Halloween folklore to fully flesh out this world. She places real historical events, such as the Lost Colony of Roanoke and the Salem Witch Trials, and gives them plausible supernatural explanations. She then takes it a step further by seamlessly blending all of our Halloween spooky favorites into her story and giving them what felt like origin stories: the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow, the Boogeyman, Frankenstein, the Bride of Frankenstein, and the Invisible Man, just to name a few. It was so much fun to turn the page and come across another favorite and see how Houck works her magic to incorporate them into her tale.
I don’t want to spoil anything about the adventure aspect of The Lantern’s Ember, so I’m just going to say that it’s a fast-paced adventure and that you’re in for a wild ride through the Otherworld, so buckle up!
I thought the book’s synopsis was a little misleading. It might just be me, but the synopsis makes it sound like the book will be pretty terrifying. Instead, I didn’t find it frightening at all. I found it whimsical and delightful. I’ve seen a few mixed reviews for the book and I have to wonder if that synopsis is giving people the wrong expectations for The Lantern’s Ember. The book also seemed to focus around romance more than I was expecting it to. More than one of our characters have crushes on Ember.
My only other issue with the book is that the ending felt a bit rushed. Again, it could have been me because I was having so much fun with the story that I didn’t want to say goodbye to the world or the characters.
If you’re looking for a scary Halloween-themed read, this book might not be for you. But if you’re interested in a Halloween-themed read that is pure fun and whimsical, and even contains a hint of romance, definitely consider checking out The Lantern’s Ember.
Welcome to a world where nightmarish creatures reign supreme.
Five hundred years ago, Jack made a deal with the devil. It’s difficult for him to remember much about his mortal days. So, he focuses on fulfilling his sentence as a Lantern—one of the watchmen who guard the portals to the Otherworld, a realm crawling with every nightmarish creature imaginable. Jack has spent centuries jumping from town to town, ensuring that nary a mortal—or not-so-mortal—soul slips past him. That is, until he meets beautiful Ember O’Dare.
Seventeen, stubborn, and a natural-born witch, Ember feels a strong pull to the Otherworld. Undeterred by Jack’s warnings, she crosses into the forbidden plane with the help of a mysterious and debonair vampire—and the chase through a dazzling, dangerous world is on. Jack must do everything in his power to get Ember back where she belongs before both the earthly and unearthly worlds descend into chaos.
3 winners will receive a finished copy of THE LANTERN’S EMBER, US Only.
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