I discovered The Dark Lantern through a post on Salon, recommending some historical fiction for the summer. All four of the books were intriguing, but The Dark Lantern was the first I read. In 1893, Jane Wilbred moves from her position as a maid to a clergyman’s family in the country to join the staff of the Bentley family in London. Jane quickly learns that the family has many secrets, and she has secrets of her own to protect. It is, of course, only a matter of time until the webs of secrets and deceit are untangled into the conclusion.
I enjoyed the book, but I didn’t love it. I felt like the element of mystery was too forced. And in a lot of ways, it had some similar themes to Fingersmith… and The Dark Lantern doesn’t really stand up to the comparison. The climax didn’t match the build-up to it. It was as though Brightwell expended much of her energy early on and ran out of steam when it came time to unveil the secrets. And no one was truly punished for their deceit. But it was a well-written book, and if I hadn’t read Fingersmith just a few months ago, I probably would have enjoyed this book a lot more. And I look forward to Brightwell’s future offerings; there is quite a bit of potential in her work.
Rating: 3 stars
888 Category: Books Released in 2008*
Review Cross-Posted To: Library Thing
*- subject to change