Title: The Lantern’s Ember
Author: Colleen Houck
Publication Date: September 11, 2018
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.
Review: This was such a perfect Halloween read! It has everything from witches and vampires to goblins and ghosts. Oh, did I mention pirates? The Lantern’s Ember is a magical adventure set in a parallel universe powered by witches’ magic. It’s told from alternating third person perspectives, with Jack and Ember as the main protagonists. I love how the author pulled from tales and history, referencing the Salem witch trials, Frankenstein, and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
Jack is a lantern. He traded his soul to the devil and now watches the crossroads that divide the Otherworld and mortal realm. To be honest, his physical description kind of reminded me of Jack Frost in Rise of the Guardians. He’s such a morally good character, but boy does he have a temper when it comes to Ember. Jack is basically the perfect lantern until Ember comes along. He knows he should report her, but he also knows that witches he sends to the Otherworld are never seen again. So he hides her, and for years he follows her and watches her learn magic. When she approaches his crossroad he ties every scare tactic he can think of to keep her away, but it just makes her more curious.
Ember is definitely a stubborn one. Once she has her mind set on something, there’s no changing it. When she learns about the Otherworld, she knows she has to go there. She tries to get past Jack’s crossroad but none of her tricks get past him. When a charming vampire named Dev suddenly appears offering her the one thing she wants, how can she say no? The one thing she doesn’t expect is that Jack will follow her.
This book definitely focuses a lot on romance and at times it was almost too much. There are three romantic interests for Ember and while I can appreciate a good love triangle at times, a love square gets too complicated. Besides that, there are other romances touched on and it kind of took away from the adventure aspect of the book a bit. It’s no wonder Ember doesn’t go insane from all the attention.
I loved that the Otherworld had a bit of a steampunk edge to it and it was far more advanced than the mortal world technology-wise. It runs on witchlight, which is very rare to come by because there are no witches left in the Otherworld. Basically, everyone wants a piece of Ember once she enters the world. Not only is Dev trying to keep her from Jack, but he also has to mask her magic to minimize potential threats.
This was such a great story and I would love to see another book set in this world, but it ended on a good note and I love reading a good standalone every once in a while. There were definitely a few good twists near the end and some pretty great villains. It’s essentially a reimagining of the origin of Halloween and definitely the perfect October read.