ARC Review: THE LIGHTS OF PRAGUE by Nicole Jarvis

I received an eARC of the book from the publishers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Title in red on white above a drawn village scape
Genre: Historical/Paranormal Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: standalone

Synopsis:

Book cover for THE LIGHTS OF PRAGUE; title in red on textured white anove a red and black drawn city scape

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: pijavice, 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 Fischerov√°– 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 pijavice 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.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

THE LIGHTS OF PRAGUE was a pandemic casualty, its release date shoved back not once but twice so it’s coming out a year after its original release date. It’s languished on my kindle for over a year as books with sooner releases have taken priority.

The last few years have seen vampires beginning to return after their post-TWILIGHT oversaturation leading to a crash and burn. The ones I’ve enjoyed tend to have a few key elements:

  • Less emphasis on romance and more on a mystery threatening discovery/some big altering change (no surprise there with me, given I’m not a big romance fan)
  • Book leans into the darker and wider mythology the vampires are set in
  • Atmospheric and/or voice-y

THE LIGHTS OF PRAGUE has all these three elements. From the get go, it’s set in a misty, gas-lamp Prague where monster crawl in the dark, and science and alchemy are intertwined. It’s an 1800s aesthetic (not sure when exactly, mainly because my knowledge of that period of European history is shoddy, so I can’t figure out from the various wars mentioned but I’m sure others could!)

There are far more than just vampires (called pijavice) – there are all sorts of other creatures out of Czech legend. It makes the pijavice feel part of something much greater than themselves, integrated into the world. Particularly with historical fantasy, the magical elements need to feel deeply part of the world, otherwise than can feel awkwardly lumped on. More creatures with the same vibe really helps there!

The mystery is a lot of fun – the exactly who and how element, and how the affair drags both Domek and Ora in from very different walks of life and for different reasons. There is a bit of romance, but it’s very much not the focus. Plus, as he’s a monster hunter and she’s a pijavica, you just know it’s all going to go badly at some point, and that was a pretty intense scene…

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