The Burning Lamp
Putnam, Apr 20 2010, $25.95
In the late seventeenth century alchemist Nicholas Winters developed the Burning Lamp to enhance his arcane skills, but the cost was an insanity curse to his descendents. Only a woman of special power, a dreamlight reader, can work the artifact and prevent the descent into insanity. His enemy Sylvester Jones formed the Arcane Society to police practitioners and remain vigilant in watching the Winters’ brood.
In the late Victorian Era, recently orphaned fifteen years old Adelaide Pyne is sold to a brothel. Her first customer Mr. Smith shows her a special lamp with it’s’ power not activated. Smith uses a crystal to kill the brothel owner, but Adelaide shocks him with her dreamlight skill when she puts him to sleep. Although unsure why, she runs away with the lamp and his money.
Thirteen years later, London Director of the Consortium crime lord Griffin Winters seeks a social reformer who has raided brothels though he does not own whorehouses. He needs this woman and the Burning Lamp to prevent his descent into insanity. He arranges through a mutual acquaintance to meet the Widow. She recognizes he uses shadow magic to conceal himself, but he is excited when she easily spots him. Griffin explains he needs her to prevent his fall into insanity. She mentions possessing the Burning Lamp which was stolen from his parents the night they were murdered. They are attracted to each other and she agrees to help him. However Smith abetted by crime lord Luttrell is coming for her and the lamp.
This exhilarating Arcane Society Victorian romantic fantasy moves forward the overarching theme of the Dreamlight trilogy (see Fired Up) but easily stands alone. The lead couple is an interesting pairing of a crime lord and a social reformer although he never displays criminal activity; while Jones and Jones play support roles. Although the two villains never quite live up to reader anticipation, fans will relish this superb thriller.