Book Review: The Lights of Prague – Nicole Jarvis

Publisher: Titan Books
Format: MOBI
Release Date: May 18th, 2021

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Domek Myska is a lamplighter in Prague, but his job is more than ensuring the people of Prague have light to guide their way. In a world with pijavica, vampiric creatures stalking the streets, his job is to hunt them down and kill them, ensuring the streets are safe for humans in more ways than one. Domek finds himself drawn to the mysterious Lady Ora Fischer, a widow with her own dark past. Told in dual POVs between Domek and Ora, we learn more about this city, the pijavica, and a strange conspiracy taking place right under their noses.

This book is full of beautiful descriptions and really dives deep into the setting. We see various parts of the city through the eyes of both Domek and Ora, who in more ways than one come from very different worlds. But Ora is a pijavica, who doesn’t know about Domek’s ‘real job’, putting them at odds even as they grow closer. The relationship between them is well formed, and the contrasts are handled well, as Domek discovers a captured will-o’-the-wisp, giving him more secrets to hide.

The interactions between Domek and the wisp show there’s more to the wisp than any of the characters think, and the wisp holds the key to so much more than they realise. The setup of the lamplighters is conveyed well, through the meetings Domek attends and the interactions he has with his fellow lighters. However, some of this could have been used more – for a large part of the book, it’s easy to forget there even are lamplighters, or that some of them are his friends. Domek has to keep secrets, but there’s a definite lack of allies throughout, and that’s something it felt like the story lacked. We meet Domek’s mother and uncle, and they feel really underused, too.

Although the descriptions are wonderful, some of that could have been traded for more characterisation with the people around Domek. Instead, it felt like various characters moved in and out too quickly, meaning they felt flat and had little impact on the story. Other elements dragged on too long, but at least in Ora’s story we see more use of the people around her, as Ora works with others whereas Domek really doesn’t.

I’m glad I got to read this – Historical Fantasy is a genre I really enjoy yet don’t get to read much of, so it’s always great to find something else that uses the past in a fantastical way. It takes a lot of skill to balance the historical with the fantasy, and Jarvis achieves it really well here, combining elements of Historical Fiction, Horror, and Urban Fantasy with paranormal elements and a dash of romance. However sometimes the balance of world-building and characterisation isn’t quite there. Still, overall this is a really good book, completely enveloping you in this world and leaving you with the feeling you want to spend more time there. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for Jarvis’ work in the future.

I was provided with a copy of this ebook from Titan Books, via NetGalley. All opinions remain my own.

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