Title: The Lantern
Author: Deborah Lawrenson
Release Date: August 9, 2011
Rating: 4 out of 5
Eve feels like she has a perfect life. She is very much in love with her boyfriend, Dom, and settling down in the French countryside is both exciting and appealing. But things take a sinister turn when Dom begins to withdraw from her. His ex-wife has always been a shadow on their marriage, especially due to Dom’s refusal to even talk about her, but Eve begins to question who she is and where she is now. What’s more, Eve begins to sense an otherworldly presence and wonders whether the house is the refuge she thought it was.
I love gothic mysteries, so I wanted to read The Lantern from the second I heard about it. Deborah Lawrenson provides an incredibly atmospheric setting for the book. The French countryside is certainty beautiful, but it also has a dark past and buried secrets. As Eve begins to dig in search of answers to her many questions, what she finds leaves her increasingly confused and disinclined to trust Dom. The country that was supposed to bring the two lovers even closer instead drives a wedge between them as Eve looks at her partner through new, untrusting eyes.
The mystery behind Dom’s ex-wife, Rachel, is central to the novel. It’s normal that, in the aftermath of a bad divorce, a person would choose to not speak of their ex in order to focus on the newer and more positive things in life. But Dom’s reaction to Eve’s questions about Rachel is both confusing and very suspicious. It seems completely out of proportion to the seemingly innocent questions Eve is asking, and what’s more, making Rachel a taboo subject takes her out of the past and makes her part of Eve and Dom’s present. Eve can’t help but want to know more, and her natural curiosity takes her down a difficult path.
The novel is actually two different stories – one taking place in the present day, the other in the recent past about the previous owners of the house. I’ll admit that this portion of the book didn’t really draw me in. While I was very interested in Eve’s story, the time jumps were something I tolerated rather than enjoyed, always eager to get back to the present day.
The Lantern was an enjoyable gothic, and while there were some slower parts of the novel, overall it was an interesting and moody read. I loved the brooding pace of the novel, as well as the great descriptions; the author really has a talent for manipulating language. I look forward to seeing what Lawrenson does next, and certainly hope she will write another gothic mystery, as there aren’t enough of them being released these days.