by Colleen Houck
Published on September 11, 2018 by Delacorte Press
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Young Adult
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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For all the spooky vibes from The Lantern’s Ember, the “world where nightmarish creatures reign” and deals with the devil and all things haunting, this book was entirely underwhelming and disappointing.
Part of my problems probably comes down to the fact that I really enjoyed Houck’s work in the past and combined with being a Sleepy Hallow/Headless Horseman type deal (which I was super excited about), I had pretty high expectations. So when I started reading and quickly lost interest, I knew it would be a downward spiral.
Rather than follow Jack, the Lantern (because the whole idea of Lanterns, guardians of the crossroads, is fascinating), The Lantern’s Ember follows Ember, a young witch, and her adventures through the Otherworld while fending off 3 — yes, THREE — love interests.
Ember was frightfully annoying, naive and innocent to the point that it felt more like a plot device to explain everything than actual character development. Which there was none of. While I liked her and Jack’s little romance subplot (it was very sweet and all), soon her life seemed to revolve around making bad choices despite being told how they were really stupid ideas, or obsessing over Jack.
So the story progresses and Ember goes on her little adventure, everything that should be dangerous is. . . and isn’t. I was never scared for the characters because, frankly, the plot was so predictable I didn’t see anything bad ever really happening. Combined with simplistic writing and a 3rd person point-of-view that kept me distant from the characters the whole way through, I had no interest in what happened to Ember or her companions.
And I can’t say that the synopsis didn’t deliver because it did, but felt skewed. The plot focused on the romance to the point that I would label this book a paranormal romance, not a fantasy. What I never understood about all of it was what made Ember so special that all 3 guys were falling over themselves for her. The only explanations given were that she was pretty and a very powerful witch. Gave me immediate special snowflake vibes and not the good kind.
After several attempts to read this book, I finished and immediately forgot most of what happened. The Lantern’s Ember ended up being a waste of my time despite being a quick read, and I wish that hadn’t been the case. This book had potential if the romance hadn’t become central and killed any chance of character development the book had left.
I wasn’t real thrilled with the last book I read by Houck either so I’ll definitely be hesitant to pick up another as these past two have had the same issues. The Lantern’s Ember was a definite miss.