The Lantern’s Ember by Colleen Houck
Publication: September 11th, 2018
Genre: Ya Fantasy
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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Then the potion’s done, a flawless spell.
And you’ll hear the peal of a burial hell.
Then it’s time to harvest a lantern’s gleam,
And you’ve got the beginnings of Halloween.
This is Colleen Houck’s best work to date. I loved the Tiger’s Curse series but this book is amazing. Everything hit the mark that I love. The plot has a love triangle but the author finally did one that was done well. I will talk more on this later. The Lantern’s Ember is a retelling of the sleepy hollow/headless horseman folklore. Jack is a lantern who has his soul stolen and put into an ember. He guards the crossroad between the mortal world and the Otherworld. The Otherworld is a place that is more advanced than the mortal world where all paranormal beings reside. The creatures being vampires, witches, goblins, bats, trolls, succubae, incubi, gremlins, lanterns, etc. Jack watched the young witch Ember grow into a powerful woman though she didn’t know how powerful she is. Ember always felt Jack there watching her and she grew to care for him and he her. When Ember learns of the Otherworld she feels drawn to it, unlike anything she’s ever felt before. But, Jack doesn’t want her to go because he knows what the High Lord does to powerful witches. When she is lured to the Otherworld by a Vampire to take her to see the High Witch, Jack with the help of Finney goes after her. A whole lot of craziness with pirate vampires, crazy doctors, bot-like creatures, and more.
Jack negotiated with the devil to save his town and that is how he became a Lantern. He was stuck that way for 500 years. He is a watcher and protector of the Otherworld. He has a lot of mystery. He is my lovable goth boy. Ember is a powerful witch who is bold and fearless. She is a fierce yet stubborn girl who can sometimes be too trusting. But, I loved that about her because she is smart, kind, and resourceful. Rune is the man who conscripted Jack. He is a bit mysterious and evil but I enjoyed him a lot. Dev is a charming vampire. He is a bit of a flirt, a tad dangerous, hard to trust, but ultimately he is funny, sweet, and a dork. Finney is Ember’s friend and a tinker/inventor. He is incredibly smart, funny, and brave. I loved them all and how fun they were. This was a great cast of characters.
Her writing really improved from the Tiger’s Curse series. Every character is interesting and has a lot of depth to them. They are multi-faceted and a lot of fun to see inside each of their brains. The point-of-view changes throughout in each chapter but it is not annoying because it’s third-person. The story is very vivid, haunting, and Halloween-ish. I loved the stunning prose and atmosphere of the novel. The tone and appearance of the people match the time period especially the dialogue. I loved the writing very much and I think this is her best.
The romance was a bit of a slow burn and it was fun. The story went from a watcher/protector turned lovers. Jack and Ember really cared about one another and it was wonderfully adorable. I mean he literally left his post for her. There is a bit of a love triangle but it’s not irritating at all. I know what you are thinking KAT YOU HATE THOSE. I know. TRUST ME. I KNOW. But, hear me out. She actually did the triangle pretty good. Here is why. We don’t have to deal with this annoying back and forth issue of I love you. Wait no I love you. And on and on. Ember from the start cares for Jack and though she knows Dev is charming and handsome, he never has her heart. Jack is the one she wants and vice versa. We also see a little romance between the wold Graydon and Delia which is so cute. I loved Ember and Jack and they made my heart soar.
Even without the benefit of the light, she could see him in the mirror behind her. His skin glowed as if lit from beneath. The world hung on the cusp of communication as the midnight hour cast its spell.
His voice was rich and resonant, with a timbre that lingered, caressing Ember’s skin long after he finished speaking.
“…Now I’m a firefly caught in her glass. She takes me where she will. Until she releases me, I must take this road with her.”
“…And you were more beautiful than I dreamed. Even in the private wishes of my heart. You were my friend all those years, as important to me as Finney, but you were different. You were secret. And you belonged to only me. You can’t know how much I needed that.”
“Don’t believe for a clockwork minute that you are unlovable. You are not at fault. Not at all. If I were a mortal, a man not doomed to walk the earth as a haunted specter, I would be the first suitor in line. Please believe that.”
Ember’s rosebud mouth was the devil’s own temptation.
Ember tasted like escape, and he wanted to lose himself in her arms and never look back.
Ember and Jack are still alive today, and every so often, they make an appearance. If you look carefully at the harvest moon on a Halloween night, you might see the shadow of a witch being chased by a rather enthusiastic pumpkin.