“Being whole is more than recovering a lost appendage.” – Chess Desalls, Lantern
What better place to spend Halloween than at a relative’s old plantation? Victoria Hall, formerly called Tori throughout Lantern, is on a family vacation to visit her grandmother. Slightly obsessive about the approaching task of trick-r-treating with her younger brother “Kimmy,” Tori is introduced as an average teenager girl who has a big sweet tooth and a knack for adventure. She is intrigued by the “spookiness” of her grandmother’s home and wonders about the possibility of ghosts. Of course wondering and experiencing a ghost story are too widely different things and Tori is in for a surprise when a simple walk of exploration uncovers a mysterious lantern that flickers on and off.
If a lantern, old and sitting in the middle of nowhere flickered on and off, I would likely decide all the fantasy stories I’ve read have gotten to me and I should go to bed. Tori meanwhile talks out loud and even directs her questions toward the lantern itself. Then the lantern responds back, in a matter of speaking. Her reaction, being thoroughly freaked out, was appropriate. All that was missing was the scream and the really frantic running away. Perhaps the old saying of “curiosity killed the cat,” applies to this story, summing it up in one sentence. Tori goes back again, and again, and again until the climax and then ending of the story.
Tori’s character is therefore revealed largely through the interactions with this mysterious lantern and the conversations with the secondary characters Desalls included. At sixteen, readers understand the typical best friend discussions, the craziness of her “mood swings” according to her parents, and of course… boys. The more I sit here, the more I want to know about Tori. I got the details of her appearance, her interests in nursing and hiking, her love of sweets, and the dynamics of her family. Did I need more? Should I have gotten more? Why did I feel so unsatisfied with her?
Perhaps I’m derailing more towards my overall feelings of the book. Meaning, it would have been interesting to see Lantern as a full length novel compared to a short story of 85 pages over a five-day span. I feel like the meat of the story rested in the lantern’s creator and unfortunately that he is only touched upon as a way of explaining then really developing the story. Was Lantern a love story? A story about growing up? A story about believing in phantom lights that glowed and talked back?
Then it just ended in a happily ever after sort of way… Hmm.
Overall I liked the lead male’s storyline the best. Jared had a richness that attracted me to his old ways and a kindness that was adorable. Readers are introduced to him at the very beginning of the story and the more I learned about him the more I liked him. While his personal development and background was brief, he just felt real to me. Perhaps it was the mystery that surrounded him.
If you are looking for a quick read with a touch of magic and love, give Lantern a try.
Perhaps the next time I would encounter an old lantern I won’t be so quick to dismiss it…
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