The Lantern’s Ember

Colleen Houck. Delacorte, $17.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-399-55572-5
This standalone fantasy from Houck (the Tiger’s Curse series) focuses on 17-year-old witch Ember O’Dare and Jack, an immortal “lantern” whose soul resides inside a pumpkin and whose job it is to guard the crossroads linking the Otherworld to Ember’s sleepy village of Hallowell. Lanterns mustn’t leave their posts, but when roguish vampire Dev sneaks into the mortal realm and charms the witch into returning home with him, Jack follows—less to punish Dev for trespassing than to protect Ember, for whom he’s developed feelings from afar. Jack and Dev aren’t the only ones with designs on Ember: the Otherworld runs on energy derived from witches, making the powerful girl a priceless commodity. Houck’s adventure, a take on the legend of Sleepy Hollow, suggests alternate origin stories for Halloween and various monsters. Regrettably, capable female characters are forced to share the page with moody, macho suitors and over-the-top villains—and the book’s strengths (elaborate costumes, swoony romance, and a sumptuous, steampunk-inspired backdrop) fail to compensate for leaden pacing and murky stakes. Ages 14–up. Agent: Robert Gottlieb, Trident Media Group. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/30/2018
Release date: 09/11/2018
Library Binding - 416 pages - 978-0-399-55573-2
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