The Dark Lantern was written by Gerri Brightwell and published by Crown Publishing in 2009. The Dark Lantern was Brightwell’s first novel and she has now written several short stories and one other novel. I found this book at an antique store and it’s premise immediately drew me in. While usually novels featuring murder and mayhem are my cup of tea, sometimes a good old Victorian mystery is good for the soul.
Set in Victorian London, The Dark Lantern follows the life of a young maid, Jane, who has taken up a new position in an upper class house. While the house is considered part of the aristocracy, there are strange happenings throughout; whether it be a maid who takes advantage of everyone’s secrets, a mysterious newly widowed stranger, a man who works in prisons trying to identify criminals through anthropometry and his wife who seems to have more secrets than the rest. Fans of Downtown Abbey, The American Heiress, and Stalking Jack the Ripper will enjoy this engaging read.
Overall I enjoyed the book; the first chapter pulled me in and I was interested to see where Jane’s story would go. I liked the different perspectives throughout the story and Brightwell provided a good level of intrigue into each of the characters secrets and background. However, I felt that after the first 3/4s of the novel, the story begin to feel rushed and a lot of the elements that were most interesting to me were never examined in depth. For example, I would have loved to have known the back story of Jane’s mother, instead of just snippets of her fear that she would be discovered. I did enjoy the story but I would not read it again.