The Lantern’s Ember, Colleen Houck – Book Review

Hello humans! As it is October, it’s the perfect time of year to be cosying up with your hot beverage of choice and reading something…spooky. Today’s book The Lantern’s Ember certainly goes with a Halloween theme, with witched, pumpkins, vampires and more running throughout the story. I wasn’t totally sure what to expect from this book when I started, and I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you.

the lanterns ember colleen houck

Goodreads Summary:

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.

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In a lot of ways this book is very on the nose, I mean – he’s a lantern and there’s a character called Ember, it’s right there in the title. And that was where I was a little unsure, going in, as to what the tone of this book would be. I think possibly this had something to do with the fact that you could take out a few elements of this story and you’d have quite a lovely middle-grade book. I mean, you have the feisty, adventurous witch and the Lantern who becomes besotted with her and follows her into the Otherworld where she encounters various characters and then – to say more would be a spoiler. Now I think middle-grade fiction has some of the best witchy characters out there at the moment, so I’m not bothered by those characters spilling up into YA. But, as I say, it did make it hard to discern the tone of the book. It’s not quite as heavy as some YA fantasy but it deals with more difficult ideas (and the romance is far more intense) than one might find in a book aimed at younger readers. I ended up settling somewhere in between. I think this is a book that is aware of how obviously Halloween-themed it is and sort of embraces that identity. Halloween as a holiday has, in a way, become that place where all ages can participate to whatever level they are comfortable, and this book similarly crosses those divides.

Enough pontificating! On to the story…

I ended up thoroughly enjoying this book. I think it has a lot of great ideas and details to the worldbuilding, a host of enjoyable characters and a romance that didn’t make me cross – not a mean feat. I could probably talk about each of the characters individually for a long time, but I think you’d probably click away before I was done, so instead, I’ll focus on our main characters, Jack and Ember.

Yes, he is a Lantern (in this context, a guardian of the crossroads between the Otherworld and our world) and yes, his name is Jack. That’s kind of the level we’re going for here. Jack was a lovely character to read. Given how powerful a Lantern can be, Jack is a very gentle character, you get to know him throughout the book and you very much feel like you understand his motivations.

Ember is by far my favourite of the two. At times she does fall into the trap of ‘well, of course, this went wrong for you character, you made a ridiculous decision’, but for the most part you can blame that on an overactive sense of adventure. What I particularly liked about Ember’s character was that she made her own choices, throughout the story you never really feel like she’s being pulled along by ‘fate’ or similar, even though there are a lot of other forces at work in the story. She has some truly wonderful moments and I’d gladly read another book about her.

The plot itself is not hugely new, essentially, it’s the ‘we need to get to the place’ plot with spades of mistrust and betrayal heaped on for good measure. But the world in which the story takes place is so interesting and has so many of my favourite things (I will never tire of sky ships) that I didn’t mind.

The romance is also rather sweet, there were a few moments where I thought it was turning into some kind of love triangle or a love polygon in some form, but for the most part, it was just a very sweet romance that built as the story went on. It has elements of the forbidden romance if that’s your jam, but it also has a little bit of the ‘protector and protected’ which I know some people also enjoy.

Is it a little bit silly? Probably. Did I still enjoy it? Why yes I did. I think anyone who hits October and instantly wants to start festooning their house with pumpkins will enjoy this book. If that’s you – then I think you’ll love it.

My rating: 4/5 stars

I received a free digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Lantern’s Ember is available now!

What say you? Will you be reading The Lantern’s Ember or is it not for you? Let me know in the comments below.



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