“[A]gain, there was a movement at the periphery of my vision. A light, this time. A glimmer of light that was moving slowly up the path, swinging slightly as if held by a night watchman…As I waited, shivering, it seemed to wait, too, suspended in the black air. Too low for a star, too near to be light from the hamlet on the facing hills across the valley. Then the light dimmed.” Deborah Lawrenson, THE LANTERN
THE LANTERN, by Deborah Lawrenson, is scheduled for publication on August 9th. I received a copy for review from the publisher. It was introduced as a “modern Gothic” tale in the tradition of REBECCA or THE HOUSE AT RIVERTON and it certainly lived up to its expectations.
Set on the fragrant, lavender-covered hills of Provence, THE LANTERN is a tale told in two time periods in an old farmhouse after a woman, Eve, meets and falls in love with a mysterious pianist, Dom, and they move to the area to be together. Eve soon learns of Rachel, Dom’s ex-wife, though he won’t speak of her. As Eve and Dom repair the house, Eve finds out that Rachel and Dom had been to the area before and that Rachel disappeared mysteriously. Because there have been local girls who’ve disappeared and the owner’s of the farmhouse, themselves, disappeared, Eve begins to suspect the worst. When an excavation at the pool unearths a terrible discovery and a series of unexplained events lead Eve to believe the house is haunted, she begins to fear for her own safety.
THE LANTERN is, indeed, a Gothic suspense story. Questions arising throughout the narrative kept me turning pages long into the night. I enjoyed both the historical and present day narratives equally, and found myself rushing through each section to get to the characters of the other time period. Several parts in the book are downright scary, and many of the historical occurrences at the house are deeply troubling. Lawrenson does a masterful job of concluding her story, however, in satisfying and believable ways.
If you enjoy books like THE DISTANT HOURS or THE THIRTEENTH TALE, you will love THE LANTERN. Just be prepared to throw your blanket over your head if you’re a night reader.