(Mmmmm, look at that beautiful Halloween inspired cover.)
“In my experience,” the lantern began, his voice soft, ” places liked the oceans or the heavens, an undiscovered forest, a great underground chasm, or the mystery of a woman’s heart and mind are not the end of the journey but the beginning. Do not let your fear of the unknown prevent you from discovery. . . otherwise the story of your life will be a dull thing indeed.” (Jack, the lantern, The Lantern’s Ember, Colleen Houck)
Goodreads Synopsis: 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.
Published only last week, Colleen Houck’s The Lantern’s Ember (2018) was the book I needed to remind me how much I needed a new story to read in October. This review is not a critique of the story, its characters, or style but more of a gushing rant about how much I loved it because I am biased when it comes to Autumn tinted stories. Is it a genius work of literature? Hmmm … not really, but in this case, I don’t care all that much. ( It is a solid 2.5/5)
Based loosely on American folktales, legends, and with more than a tint of romance, this story sets out to have a good time. There wasn’t really a villain, so I just enjoyed the ride as it fulfilled my dream of finding another story with a more Over the Garden Wall kind of feel. There was still a vampire helplessly in love with the main character. Eh. At least the cool character won the lady’s heart. (Cough, it wasn’t the vampire.)
I liked the characters, especially Ember, the feisty witch, and her Lantern Jack. Ember wasn’t overly feminist or against romance, nor was she so soppily boy crazy to the point where I wanted to kill myself. She was kind but firm in her decisions and feelings. Plus, when she loved, it was deeply and sincerely.
Jack, to be honest, would be the perfect man for me because his soul was attached to a pumpkin. And as everyone knows, that is as close to heavenly as you will get. (I love pumpkins to the point of ridiculousness….. this book fed a lot of my guilty pleasures.) In all seriousness, I enjoyed his kindness, gentleness, and willingness to change.
All in all, this book is my new favorite, basically, because it allows me to fantasize about Halloween, Autumn, pumpkins, autumn leaves, retold historical ghost stories, small villages in a forest, harvest celebrations, black stallions over stone bridges, fogs and of course about really handsome pumpkin carrying men with moonlight hair.
I would recommend it to those who like Halloween without the horror and gore. Those like me, who enjoy Autumn for Autumn’s sake and not for blood, screams, and tales of demons and despair. Also, I don’t think vampires, werewolves, or zombies are sexy. They kind of freak me out. Hence, why I was glad the romance did not involve bloodsucking or possession.