It’s only May, but I’ve been in a spOoOky mood. Lucky for me, The Lights of Prague makes its debut at the most perfect time to pander to my weird spring vibes. Nicole Jarvis promised me monsters, ghosts, and magic – and this book definitely delivers. I was eager to get lost in the dark streets of Prague but found myself removed from the story and forced to watch the events unfold. If you follow our reviews regularly, The Lights of Prague is also one of our Dark Horses of the first half of 2021.
Vampiric monsters known as pijavica stalk humans in the streets of Prague. Most of these creatures are uncivilized and live in the city’s underground tunnels. Others find themselves hiding in plain sight amongst Prague’s upper class. Domek Myska is fighting against the darkness as he lights lamps across the city while hunting creatures of the night. After one of his rounds, Domek comes into possession of a will-o’-the-wisp whose untapped power is now his to command. This removes him from his previously unassuming life and thrusts him into the spotlight as dangerous people start to take notice of his existence. On the other hand, we have Lady Ora Fischerová, a recent widow who simply wants to quietly mourn her late husband and indulge in her lavish lifestyle. However, her government friends have other plans and pull her into an undercover operation to investigate rumors of a pijavica cure. Domek and Ora’s paths begin to cross as they fight unknown forces in the shadows.
The Lights of Prague takes a shallow approach with its monsters, schemes, and violence. Each scene was described matter-of-factly and didn’t dive into the heart of the situation. All the emotion was pushed aside, so I failed to make the deep connections that are needed for the darker side of this story to hit home. The book is very plot-driven and doesn’t create a lot of depth around the characters or their relationships. This makes for a super easy read as Jarvis pushes us along quickly through the events. And while the pacing makes it easy to digest, the story doesn’t pull you into the world. It left me feeling like an outsider because I wasn’t invested in the people or the outcome.
While the majority of the story was a smooth, adventurous ride through the streets of Prague, I constantly tripped over the awkward dialogue. I found the conversations and moments between characters stilted. Their dialogue seemed robotic, and it was missing an emotional element to make it feel real. My missed connection with the characters really reared its head during these moments. Jarvis does a nice job pacing the plot, but things would get bumpy when people interacted.
The characters in Prague are very uneven. Ora steals the show, while Domek and the supporting cast fade into the night. She is the strongest character by far and has a defined backstory that informs us of her thoughts and actions in the present day. She’s stuck in her grief, and I like how Jarvis puts her in uncomfortable situations to confront her demons. I found Ora’s story to be more compelling as Domek seemed to bumble through his situation. He does jump into the action without a second thought but there is a lot of worrying that takes place in between. You can’t help but like the guy because he’s unbelievably good and honorable, but Ora brought the fire to light this story up.
While I would say The Lights of Prague is not the strongest debut of 2021, it is still an interesting enough read especially if you want a plot that doesn’t stop. I’m definitely more of a character reader, so while I missed that particular element, this book can certainly entertain anyone looking for an effortless read.
Rating: The Lights Of Prague – 6.0/10