published: 18th May 2021
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.
Galley provided by publisher
Something about the year 2020 seems to have led half of my most anticipated releases (although this one has since been pushed to 2021) to be boring as anything to me. I should have liked this one. It combines some of my favourite things (sapphic historical paranormal mystery). And yet.
The Lights of Prague follows Domek Myska (House Mouse), a lamplighter in Prague who has a secret life as a vampire (or pijavica) hunter. He is drawn to the widow Lady Ora Fischer, who is, unbeknownst to him, herself a pijavica. When Domek kills a pijavica and ends up with a will-o-the-wisp, he finds he has stumbled on a macabre plot, one that might well spell the end to life as he knows it.
I think I knew from pretty early on that this book wasn’t going to be for me. Something about the slow pace of it, the lack of real action, flagged it as being potentially boring from early on. And I was proven right. I could not really pinpoint what it was about it that made it so – possibly because it felt like YA-depth writing in adult fiction trappings – but I found myself skimming from fairly early on.
The most disappointing thing about it was the amount of potential it had. I truly thought I would love this book, and I did not. Like I said, it didn’t have enough action to truly grab me, but that would have been alright if the world had been somewhat more immersive. It wasn’t. So I ended up bored. So bored in fact that I looked up what the characters’ names meant, which is how I came to be calling the mc House Mouse.
That was probably a tactical error, because once I knew that, there was no chance I was going to read this book seriously.
I thought for a moment that it might redeem itself by having an interesting mystery, but that too was not to be. It was pretty obvious from the start that the people who were supposedly to be trusted actually couldn’t be.
Or maybe that’s just because I’ve read way too many books with similar plotlines.
But regardless. It ended up predictable and boring. Like I found much of the rest of the book too.