Happy Thursday book friends! It is time for another review, and this time it’s of a book I picked up randomly at the book store because the cover was pretty. But also because I’ve seen it around quite often.
The Lights of Prague by Nicole Jarvis landed in my shopping basket when I went to Rotterdam last week. Rotterdam has a very large bookstore, but to be honest, I still find their English department lacking. Or maybe I’m just spoiled being used to Barnes & Noble. Either way, I’m glad I was able to pick up this book, even if it wasn’t planned, because I ended up enjoying it!
The Lights of Prague
By Nicole JarvisMy Rating: ★★★.25☆☆
Published 25 May 2021 by Titan Books
Historical Fantasy | Vampires | Adult
In the quiet streets of Prague all manner of otherworldly creatures lurk in the shadows. Unbeknownst to its citizens, their only hope against the tide of predators are the dauntless lamplighters – a secret elite of monster hunters whose light staves off the darkness each night. Domek Myska leads a life teeming with fraught encounters with the worst kind of evil: pijavice, bloodthirsty and soulless vampiric creatures. Despite this, Domek find solace in his moments spent in the company of his friend, the clever and beautiful Lady Ora Fischerová– a widow with secrets of her own.
When Domek finds himself stalked by the spirit of the White Lady – a ghost who haunts the baroque halls of Prague castle – he stumbles across the sentient essence of a will-o’-the-wisp, a mischievous spirit known to lead lost travellers to their death, but who, once captured, are bound to serve the desires of their owners.
After discovering a conspiracy amongst the pijavice that could see them unleash terror on the daylight world, Domek finds himself in a race against those who aim to twist alchemical science for their own dangerous gain.
What I Liked
I really loved the setting of this book. Most historical fantasies I’ve read are in either London or New York, so having one take place in Prague was lovely. Especially because it’s high on my list of places I want to visit… Anyway, the fact that this book takes place in the real world means that there was no need to dedicate a lot of chapters to world building. However, if you expect to read a simple vampire story, you will be mistaken. There are all manners of mythical creatures involved in this book.
Speaking of creatures, I really liked Jarvis’s take on vampires. Lately the vampires I’ve been reading about are just not scary. The ones in this book feel more classical. And they have a lot more teeth. I know next to nothing about Czech folklore, but I’m assuming that many of the creatures are based on that. I also liked that these super powerful creatures still had a limit. I’m not very fond of the overpowered supernatural creatures trope, so I liked seeing them need to recuperate.
I thought the writing itself was really nice, too. Jarvis really made 19th(?) century Prague come alive for me. As a visual reader, it’s always a pleasure when I have no trouble conjuring the scenes in my mind. It definitely makes me want to visit the city sooner, because I know that much of the architecture still stands today. Going back in time like that just seems very cool.
What I Liked Less
So I’ve given this book kinda a weird rating. I don’t often deal with quarter stars, but 3 stars felt as too little and 3.5 stars felt as too many. My biggest gripe with this book is that I was often incredibly frustrated by the characters. And you all know I prefer characters over plot. Ora intrigued me, and I liked reading her POV, but Domek was just a tad bit too righteous for me. Maybe it was extra frustrating for me because the last couple of books I read had characters that were the polar opposite of Domek. Thankfully, there is a character arc.
Lastly, there were a couple of plot points I literally forgot about because they left the page and then didn’t come back until way later. I felt like maybe they could’ve been incorporated in the rest of the story more, so that it wouldn’t feel as jarring when they suddenly made a reappearance.