The Lantern’s Ember by Colleen Houck | Book Review

Book: The Lantern’s Ember
Author: Colleen Houck
Series: Standalone
Genre: Paranormal/Steampunk Fantasy
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

“In my experience,” the lantern began, his voice soft, “places like 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 a journey, but a beginning.”

Picking this book up during fall/Halloween was a delight because it matched the season perfectly. It was a random pick too, for a reading vlog, which made the timing wonderfully coincidental.

Jack has been around for centuries, guarding crossroads to the Otherworld and watching over towns to look out for witches. His newest assignment, at Hallowell, has a witch named Ember, and instead of reporting her, like he’s supposed to, he watches over her as she grows up. But when she becomes desperate to cross into the Otherworld, which Jack is supposed to prevent, he finds himself constantly fending off her very creative attempts to best him, until one day she does. Now it’s a chase as Jack frantically tries to find her before she gets herself, or anyone, hurt.

The beginning read like a fairytale, and I reveled in the coziness that it emanated. What I was not expecting was being thrown out of that small town atmosphere so quickly. Though it was a stark contrast, I mean we were thrown into a steampunk world, I came to appreciate it because it became evident that we were not going back, at least for the majority of the book. And it helped that it was easy to follow along with the magical concepts that the author laid out. This was also my first time reading a steampunk book, and I didn’t even realize it was one when I initially picked it up. I have to say, it really reminded me of “Treasure Planet” (the Disney film), especially during the ship scenes. So really, it was a great first experience.

At first it seemed as if we were only getting the perspective of Jack, which I didn’t mind at all, but then the point of view started doing that annoying thing where it randomly shifted between characters on the same page (depending on what the author was trying to highlight). I always hate this writing choice because it leaves me confused about whose perspective it’s on.

The synopsis talked about how Jack had to look for the love of his life, Ember, after she left, but the timeline could not convince me that he was in love when they only had a handful of interactions. Even if it was more off page than on, how does that show the reader? It was too early for that and I didn’t buy it. Even reading it in the synopsis almost made me not want to pick it up because it sounded too instalovey.

“My stubborn little witch,” he said softly. “Don’t believe for a clockwork minute that you are unlovable. 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.”

Talking about romance, I really could have done without it in this book. Ember ended up having three potential suitors and all of them were annoying, especially the two who were extremely territorial of her. But I did enjoy how Ember stood up for herself and talked back when they made unfair claims. I was definitely cheering her on, especially because a lot of her responses were what I was thinking.

But I also have to talk about how annoying Ember was herself. She did not have one cautious bone in her body. She created a bunch of potions and weapons to use against vampires only to get friendly with the first one she met, having no problem following him into the Otherworld.

“For a witch, you certainly don’t know much about how hauntings work.”

I was not expecting the vampire, Dev, to have such a huge role, especially with Ember by his side. Because of this, I had no predictions for where the story was going. I love it when books surprise me both characterwise and plotwise. The plot got even more interesting at the end when things got really sketchy.

The writing and storytelling was captivating enough to get through quickly, it went through so many different stages and tones that left me holding on for dear life. I enjoyed this as a standalone, and going forward, I think it will definitely motivate me to pick up books that I assume I won’t like.

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