Every now and again you read a book and think, wow . . . excellent writing, realistic and incredible characters, wonderful settings and a great plot. Don't get me wrong, there are great books written and read every day. But there are also plenty of good books and not so good books as well. The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson is one of the great books.
The writing is not only beautiful but beautifully evocative. Ms. Lawrenson paints pictures with words that capture the imagination and allow the reader to step inside of the story and walk alongside the characters. And we step inside the present with the story of Eve and Dom, and then we step into the past with Benedicte. Eve is a French to English translator. She falls in love with Dom and they relocate from the UK to France, pastoral northern France. Dom is, apparently, independently wealthy and they purchase and rehabilitate a farmhouse. Benedicte was born and raised in this farmhouse and the reader is invited to see the past through her story and memories. Eve isn't exactly naive but she does have a certain sense of naïveté about her, especially when it comes to Dom. She has the sense that something from his past is haunting his present and that it most likely is related to his ex-wife, Rachel. It doesn't help that the local realtor evidently met Rachel and suspects that something untoward happened to her. Her fears overshadow Eve's love and longing to build a life with Dom.
Benedicte is a typical farm girl. Although she longs for more, she knows that she must stay to help her family, especially since her older sister is blind and no longer living at home and their brother cannot be relied upon to help out. Over the years Benedicte has worked the land and kept up the farm/estate as best as she can but she has also suffered major disappointments (hopes for a career that never came to fruition and a lover that . . . disappointed her). In her old age, she reminisces and fears that she is losing her mind as ghostly visages torment her. She questions what really happened to her sister and why has she deserted her?
The Lantern is filled with psychological horror that gradually builds throughout the story. The reader and characters begin to question what is and isn't real, and suspect what has and hasn't happened to people from the past. As I've previously stated, the writing is truly beautiful and captures the reader from beginning to end. If you can appreciate beautiful prose, great scenery, and credible characters accompanied by subtle psychological horror, then The Lantern is just the book for you.
Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."