Eve falls for mysterious and secretive Dom in a whirlwind romance in France. They buy an old, crumbling farm called Les Genévriers and at first all is well. Dom is happy playing and writing music and Eve is happy reading and writing. The idyllic summer passes and winter arrives along with some strange happenings and dark mysteries.
Dom’s previous wife vanished and Dom refuses to talk about her at all, leading Eve to assume the worst and try to uncover the truth. The strange happenings increase in frequency, creating even more tension between the couple. The past of Les Genévriers is also entwined in the mystery. Eve must figure out both Rachel’s fate and the fate of the previous inhabitants before the same fate befalls her and Dom.
The Lantern is a beautifully written story. The lyrical descriptions and the historical setting really drew me in and I was engaged in the story very quickly. The setting in the French countryside is breaktaking and creates a unique atmosphere for this modern gothic tale.
The story is told in alternating points of view: by Eve in modern times and Benedicte in the past. Both tales are interesting and have their own shares of mysteries to sort out. Eve needs to find out about Dom’s secrets. Benedicte’s problems don’t become apparent until pretty late into the book. Her narrative jumps around in time and covers her childhood to old age. Her family goes through misfortune after misfortune from her father’s death to her abusive brother leeching off the family to her sister going blind. The stories subtly intersect with some objects and small events until the very end when the two stories connect in a significant way. Benedicte and Eve are both compelling characters that I enjoyed following throughout the novel.
I did have a few problems with the book. The story moves very slowly in some parts. Even though the language is beautiful, it gets a little tedious when nothing is really happening. Dom wasn’t really likeable or fleshed out. One of the big problems was his utter refusal to tell Eve anything about his past. It seems kind of ridiculous in a modern setting for him to be so obstinate when his actions were obviously hurting his relationship. Even though Eve and Dom were supposed to be in love, I felt that their love was not portrayed in a believable way before their relationship started to break down. The plot was pretty predictable and I found the ending anticlimactic.
The Lantern is a unique book that brings the gothic novel to the present. The masterful writing flows easily and creates memorable images with florid descriptions. The novel definitely has some flaws, but kept me interested throughout and I would definitely read more from Deborah Lawrenson.
Elizabeth is a student at Cal State Long Beach. She laughs a lot, loves cats, and lives for music and books. You can read her blog here: http://titania86-fishmuffins.blogspot.com/
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Harper. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.