Published: May 18, 2021
Publisher: Titan Books
Pages: 416 (Paperback)
My Rating: 4.5/5.0
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
For readers of VE Schwab and The Witcher, science and magic clash in atmospheric gaslight-era Prague.
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: pijavica, 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 Fischer – 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 pijavica 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.
**The release date for this book was pushed back to May 2021, however it was initially supposed to be released in September 2020**
This is for all the folks who want a vampire book without the sparkles. I had hopes that this would be a proper, threatening story and that’s exactly what it was. The vampires are a deadly threat, though not all are necessarily evil and the monster hunters aren’t all good people. The setting is delightful – Prague is always a magical setting and the time period lends toward the dark atmosphere.
Domek Myska is a lamplighter, and as you may guess from the title, he is responsible for igniting the gas lamps that light Prague’s streets at night. The lamplighters are also hunters and slayers of the monsters that lurk in Prague’s dark alleys. Domek is a good man, if somewhat naive about certain aspects of the world around him. Lady Ora Fischerova is a vampire, or pijavice, as they are called in this tale. She longs for her humanity and is grieving a mortal husband that passed many years before. Ora wants nothing to do with pijavice politics and only wishes to partake in the human nightlife and culture that is available. Ora and Domek are acquainted with one another, though neither realizes what the other truly is.
While both Ora and Domek are inherently decent folk, their respective avoidance of their own kind and naive/trusting nature do them disservice. Ora is blind to the machinations of her creator and actions taken by the new covens in Prague and she is unprepared when asked by a human friend to spy on them. Domek gets himself into a fair bit of trouble because he shares information with people he trusts… but can you blame him? These people have never given him a reason not to trust them.
Anyway, I’m rambling. The story is delightful, tense, and action-packed with a decent amount of culture and worldbuilding to further spice things up. I love the tension between Ora and Domek – will he return her flirtations? The sudden disappearance of wisps (trapped spirits) and the discovery of a pijavice in possession of one adds a layer of mystery to an already interesting story. Both Ora and Domek are likable characters with a satisfying amount of depth – they have flaws, personal problems, interesting quirks – basically all the things that contribute to a well written character.
I thought The Lights of Prague was a great story that perfectly suits a rainy day and a hot cup of tea. I’ll be keeping my eye out for more releases from Nicole Jarvis in the future!