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 Fischerová– 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.
I requested this from Netgalley because just look at that cover! Also, The Husband and I went on our honeymoon to Prague, so the city has a special place in my heart. And I am happy to report that this read was a lot of fun.
We follow two characters, Domek and Ora, both on their own hunt to find the truth (and of course their paths collide). Domek is a lamplighter, an organization that keeps the streets safe at night. From monsters that is (also, he does light the gaslamps on the steet). And most of these monsters find their origin in Slavic mythology and lore. Which is a thing I for some reason absolutely love. Domek is a big and kind bear of a man, but also very set in his ways. Monsters are bad and need to be killed.
Which brings us to Ora… a pijavice (a kind of vampire), who has given up on drinking human blood (and yes she has been to an AA meeting). She married a human, and is now sadly a widow. She is also very rich, a flirt, bi, and loves to host dinner parties for her human friends, as well as visit museums and science fairs. Basically, she tries to love life even though she is (un)dead.
These were two great characters to follow. They both have to face their prejudices and change their minds to get to the bottom of the mystery… which is that pijavice have somehow created a cure for their weaknesses, making them impossible to kill. Because we have two POVs we get to approach this case from two very different sides, and therefore can piece things together ourselves a bit (lot) quicker than Domek and Ora do. Although nice, this did also lead to some moments of frustration… I just wanted them to stop their miscommunications and work together already.
As I stated earlier, I do have a soft spot for Prague. And the city has certainly been done justice here. Maybe someone who actually lives there may disagree with me, but as a once tourist I definitely felt transported back. Yes we pass by some of the very well known buildings, but also some lesser ones. And the atmosphere is just spot on. It served for a great stage of this till full of monsters.
The ending sketches the possibility for this becoming a series, and I really hope it does. I want to see more of these characters, the monsters and the city. This was a great read for me, and certainly one I would recommend.