The Lights of Prague

by Nicole Jarvis

I wish I remembered where I came across this one. It was the last of my 2019 TBR list, so I must have learned about it before it was even published– not a common occurrence for me.

We follow Domek Mysta, a solid, working-class lamplighter on his night time journey across Charles Bridge in Prague in the beginning of the book, just as he meets with a pijavice and its intended victim. Domek quickly dispatches the pijavice with his hawthorn stake, and we are immersed in early 19th century Prague– with its german-speaking nobility, ringing church bells, newly opened Jewish ghetto, and in this novel, a night time filled with monsters.

Only these monsters aren’t just mindless blood-sucking creatures. One of them, Lady Ora Fisherova, encounters a fellow pijavice underneath Prague and discovers someone’s experimenting on them to try and make them impervious to sunlight and hawthorn

This book has a strangely dry, distant tone, but despite that, we grow fond of Domek’s single-hearted desire to protect the city, and Ora’s jaded, life-weary approach to living with mortals.

This is a love-letter to Prague of that era, more than a vampire story, however, Despite echoes of Rene Ahdieh’s The Beautiful, this lingers as much on Domek’s mortalness as it does on Ora’s pijavice society.

If you are okay with the slightly academic, dry tone, the story itself is wondrously lush with Prague city details, sensorial depictions of the upper aana lower class streets, references to sunsets on the Vltava, and full of interesting creatures one doesn’t run across all the time in recent fantasy. (Vodniks, and will-o-the-wisps)

Lovely novel. Hope Jarvis writes more.