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Reviewed by Hilary Hawkes for Readers' Favorite
Lantern by Chess Desalls is a Young Adult novella that tells the story of what happens when teenager Tori discovers a strange lantern in the grounds of her grandmother’s property. It’s days away from Halloween and Tori, her three-year-old brother, and their parents are visiting and have plans for the approaching traditional spooky night. But Tori is shocked and mystified when she finds that the lantern contains a trapped person called Jared, and she makes several moonlit visits to work out how to free him. One night, when she finds the lamp unlit and seemingly empty, she wonders if she was too late to free Jared. Will he be trapped and missing from his own world forever? Or will they both manage to piece together the clues about moonlight and creating a passageway out of the darkness?
Lantern is a well-written, intriguing, and entertaining story with a well-crafted plot. Desalls builds the mystery and suspense, leaving the reader rooting for Tori to find a way to help Jared and solve the mystery of how and why he became trapped. The main characters are believable and likable – Tori is a typical teenage girl and has a loving and caring nature. She is also brave, and there are plenty of scary moments when she ventures out into the potentially spooky grounds, which really had me wishing she wouldn’t! I liked the way the book begins with a prologue that introduces Jared in his original life as apprentice to Machin, and ends with an epilogue that reveals Machin’s intentions for Jared all along.
I felt there was a lovely message in the story about kind intentions towards others leading to hope, and the courage to find a way forward when it may seem that there isn’t one. “Sometimes when things don’t make sense you have to follow your heart,” says Tori’s grandmother. Chess Desalls’ Lantern is a ghostly tale with a difference which I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend.