I discovered Lamplighter via her husband, John C. Wright. His books are, simply put, amazing. And I was not disappointed in the least bit. LamplighterI discovered Lamplighter via her husband, John C. Wright. His books are, simply put, amazing. And I was not disappointed in the least bit. Lamplighter (her maiden name, I believe) is an excellent writer. The depth and epic proportions of the book are belied by the humble subtly of her writing.
Miranda is the daughter of the great Prospero, whom Shakespear wrote about so long ago. Though a young lady, Miranda herself is several centuries old and has lately found herself running the family business, Prospero, Inc., alone. One day she discovers a cryptic warning from her father, who has mysteriously disappeared, and sets out to warn the rest of her far-flung family. Partnered with an enfleshed wind spirit detective, as she tracks down each of her siblings more and more of the layers of mystery surrounding her father's disappearance are pierced.
As can even be glimpsed in this simple description, the story is built upon a mythology primarily derived from Shakespear, though there are many elements drawn from other major mythologies (Greek, Catholic, etc.). It seems like it would get convoluted and confusing, but Lamplighter manages to deftly move the story along while slowly and effortlessly revealing the mythological depth to the world she has created in her books.
And "books" it is. This is the first of a trilogy, and I would recommend not even opening this volume until you had the other two close at hand. As has happened to several of her husband's works, the publisher took a massive story and neatly chopped it into three parts. The end of this book barely has any level of resolution to it. All the major conflicts are still unresolved, and Lamplighter reveals another level of conflict even in the last few chapters.
With that warning in place, I do highly recommend the book. The reading just flows, the characters are vivid, engaging, and quite intriguing. In fact, for being an adult book, I was rather pleased at how "clean" it was. Though there is a level of romance, it is quite chaste, and the language is not profane at all. I would even go so far as to say it would be fine for any High School age teenager, and probably even any mature Middle School age children.
In the past I read a review which remarked that it seemed that Lamplighter was almost attempting to write "Christian Fiction." A claim which intrigued me. After reading this, the first of the trilogy, I think the jury is still out on the truth of that claim, but I can make a couple of observations. First, this is not a type of Ted Dekker or even C.S. Lewis "Christian" fiction. No, what Lamplighter has written here is set within a meta-narrative which is foreign to that of the Bible. It is rather close in some places. But, in a sense, it made me think of what Tolkien did with the Simarillion. To work in such characters as Elves, wind spirits, salamanders (fire spirits), the Water of Life, a Dante-esq Hell, and even Father Christmas (among many others) requires a different hierarchy of beings and even of creation.
Second, if a person goes into reading this trilogy expecting some sort of inspirational "Christian" fiction, they will be sorely disappointed and probably even offended. What Lamplighter is doing here is excellent, amazing writing and story creation/development. But because she chose to include such characters and to write the story she did, their very inclusion and nature begets a theology which is contrary to what is contained within the Bible. In my mind, this is okay because this is fiction on a grand scale, with not even a pretense of being very close to reality.
And lastly, early on in the book there was a short discussion on the person of Christ, what type of being he was and where he came from. I loved that she touched on this without trying to explain it all. For this book, at least, she left it a mystery. I am completely intrigued, of course, to see where she goes with it in the following books.
In conclusion, if you enjoy fantasy books - get the whole trilogy and block out a weekend to immerse yourself in it. If you just enjoy really creative stories, a good mystery, and don't mind some supernatural insanity - grab yourself a copy and curl up. This is an excellent book and I can't wait until my sons are old enough for me to share it with them!...more
A very interesting read. Considering the book is nearly 150 years old, it reads incredibly well even in a contemporary setting. It really helped me wrA very interesting read. Considering the book is nearly 150 years old, it reads incredibly well even in a contemporary setting. It really helped me wrap my mind around the differences between worlds of a single dimension, two dimensions, and how they would be interpreted and perceived by individuals from a three-dimensional realm.
It also has an interesting sociological commentary running throughout. It pretty much ended on a pessimistic note, though. I guess that makes it qualify almost for a tragedy....more