Deal with the Devil

The Lantern’s Ember by Colleen Houck

Publication Date: September 11, 2018

Summary from Netgalley:

The Lanterb's EmberWelcome to a world where nightmarish creatures reign supreme.

Five hundred years ago, Jack made a deal with the devil. It’s difficult for him to remember much about his mortal days. So he focuses on fulfilling his sentence as a Lantern–one of the watchmen who guard the portals to the Otherworld, a realm crawling with every nightmarish creature imaginable. Jack has spent centuries jumping from town to town, ensuring that nary a mortal–or not-so-mortal–soul slips past him. That is, until he meets beautiful Ember O’Dare. 

Seventeen, stubborn, and a natural-born witch, Ember feels a strong pull to the Otherworld. Undeterred by Jack’s warnings, she crosses into the forbidden plane with the help of a mysterious and debonair vampire–and the chase through a dazzling, dangerous world is on. Jack must do everything in his power to get Ember back where she belongs before both the earthly and unearthly worlds descend into chaos.


ARC provided by Random House Children’s via Netgalley for an honest review

I don’t think that I have ever read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, but I know the basic story.  This book is being touted as a fresh spin or re-imagining  of this classic, but it really isn’t.  The setting and a little bit of the plot at the beginning of the book is similar to the original, but it soon leaves it far behind.  It is a good story however, but if you are looking for a retelling of Sleepy Hollow you best look elsewhere.

Once I got the Sleepy Hollow image out of my mind, I quite enjoyed the story.  The Otherworld is a fascinating place, that is a little bit steampunk and a little bit horror story.  Lots of great characters and creatures fill the pages with excellent descriptions of them. For those of you who hate love triangles, don’t worry there is a love square involved here, although the other two men don’t stand a chance, Ember only has eyes for Jack.  

I really enjoyed Jack, the Lantern, and the only character from Sleepy Hollow.  He lived a very lonely existence, but did his job of protecting the Otherworld diligently if a bit reluctantly.  His one fault is caring too much for the local witch Ember, who he watched grow up.  He is loyal to her and sees himself as her protector.  And quite literally goes to the ends of the earth to protect her.

I am not sure that I can say that I liked Ember,  I found her to be quite trying at times. She could quite strong, clever and put together, but at others I just wanted to shake her and tell her to smarten up.  She was smart, but not worldly and couldn’t see what was happening to her until it was too late.  Plus every guy she meets falls madly in love with her.  Now granted she is a witch and for the most part it is her power that everyone wants, but still.

Deverell was an interesting character, he is a vampire, but they are a different type than in most stories.  He did have Ember’s best interests at heart, but he also wanted her for himself and sometimes those two things interfered with how he interacted with her.   I loved his pirate vampire sister, Delilah and wished that we saw a bit more of her in the story.  

Finney is the human boy that helps Jack find Ember.  I really liked him and was rooting for Ember to appreciate him more and fall in love with him.  He was nerdy but sweet, and at times offered a bit of humor to the darker parts of the story. 

The plot was a bit of a mixed bag for me.  It was good in the middle, but I struggled with the beginning and the ending seemed really rushed and a little bit cliched.    The Otherworld is what really keeps you interested in the story.  There are so many interesting things and creatures and people that Ember and her group meet, that you really want to learn more about them and the world they live in.  Also the concept of the Lanterns and how and why they exist is a fascinating take on mythology.  

Even with it’s faults I still liked the story.  I enjoy this author’s writing style and her take on some of the halloween mythologies was interesting.  Also the interesting world and some of the characters were enough to keep you reading.  


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