So, in case you haven’t been paying any attention to the blog lately, I just finished up a read-along of The Lantern (first week here). If you want my as-they-happened, totally-spoilerful thoughts, you should go check those posts out. If you don’t, or if you want to know how I felt about the book as a whole, read on!
The Lantern is not really a story I’d have picked up on my own. It’s one of them gothic novels, except set in the present-ish day, and I have not always been a fan of the melodrama and the sekrits and the falling-apart houses. But I think I’ve read enough of this type of novel to at least sort of know what to expect, and that certainly helps. But but, I have not read Rebecca, which is apparently the basis for this book. Sooooo I may be missing a lot of stuff here.
But but BUT, I still managed to really like this book. It has two narrators, which I love, and goes back and forth in time, which I love, and starts at the end, which I love, and has an entirely unreliable narrator, which I love. It’s also got a sensory theme to it, which I am starting to like, and lots of spookyness, which I appreciate. Not terrible, right?
And the stories proper are quite interesting, too. The primary narrator, who is nameless but sort of goes by Eve, meets a guy and sets off on a romantically romantic adventure, moving to the French boonies and fixing up an old falling-apart house, and it’s all delightful except that he won’t talk about his ex-wife, like, at all. Not a whit. And Eve thinks that’s all suspicious and stuff, and so does one of her new neighbors who has at one point met said ex-wife and… misses her? I guess, and then some even more suspicious stuff happens and Eve is like, oh boy. The other narrator, Bénédicte, is from the past and lived in the falling-apart house before it started falling apart. And her brother is insane and her sister is blind and her parents are not terribly good parents and Bénédicte does her best to take care of everyone but you know from early on that they’re all haunting her in her old age and she’s sure she deserves it.
Quite good, and as of the end of the fourth of five parts, I was like, greatest book ever? It was wonderfully compelling and spooky and interesting and things were quite exciting. But then things kind of derail as the slow build of the book turns into a lot of exposition and explanation, and I think if I had been prepared for this I might not have been so irked by it, so I am telling you now! And certainly with the book a few days in my past now, I’m feeling much better about the ending, but oh my goodness while it was happening… whatever! Moving on!
So I can’t give it my endorsement of absolute awesomeness, but I can definitely say that it’s worth a read, especially if you can talk about it with others who will pick up on all the things you didn’t, like those darn Rebecca parallels. And it is totally perfect for a cool fall evening and a cup of hot cocoa. Mmm, hot cocoa. If you need an excuse to drink some, this is a good one!
Recommendation: For lovers of the Gothic, the spooky, ghosties, and hot cocoa.