Prospero Lost – L. Jagi Lamplighter

From Publishers Weekly

Lamplighter’s powerful debut draws inspiration from Shakespeare and world mythology, infused with humor and pure imagination. Four centuries after the events of The Tempest, Prospero’s daughter Miranda runs Prospero Inc., a company with immense influence in the supernatural world. When she discovers a mysterious warning from her father, who has gone missing, Miranda sets forth accompanied by Mab, an Aerie Spirit manifested as a hard-boiled PI, to warn her far-flung, enigmatic siblings that the mysterious Shadowed Ones plan to steal their staffs of power. Every encounter brings new questions, new problems and a greater sense of what’s at stake. Featuring glimpses into a rich and wondrous world of the unseen, this is no ordinary urban fantasy, but a treasure trove of nifty ideas and intriguing revelations. A cliffhanger ending will leave readers panting for sequels.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m almost doggedly anti-reading urban fantasy. I’ve read urban fantasy before and it’s all the same. There’s the tough-as-nails-jilted-in-the-past investigator or cop who is just oh-so-cynical and amazingly gorgeous. She will inevitably run across (insert name of paranormal creature here) who is overly mysterious and will make her challenge everything she ever thought her heart could handle and together they will uncover some epic mystery and have lots of sex while doing it.
It’s enough to make me throw up.
The other thing I rarely, if ever do is pay attention to cover art because, lets be honest fellow SFF readers; we have some amazingly bad cover art adorning some seriously wonderful books in our genre.
So you can imagine my surprise when I read not only an urban fantasy but also an urban fantasy with pointedly good cover art. You can probably imagine how set I was on hating this book when I cracked the cover for the first time.
Well, I didn’t hate it.
The concept of the book isn’t exactly new. Plots focused around some aspect of Shakespeare’s work have flooded the marketplace. This is no exception. Miranda, the eldest daughter of Prospero from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, leads the reader on an amazing chase while she tries to fulfill her father’s orders to warn her siblings of danger. All of these events happen roughly five hundred years after the events of The Tempest. Lamplighter wastes no time weaving a rich and interesting history of events which led the family from the events in The Tempest to current times. She also has no problems describing all that Shakespeare got wrong.
The history woven into this book is fascinating and I really enjoyed reading what happened to the Prospero family over time. Lamplighter has created a wonderful, believable world with this book that can’t help but suck the reader in. Peppered in this world are characters from myth itself which are not only fun to read about, but interesting in the fact that they exist and how Lamplighter has believably woven them into the tapestry of her world.
This is, as far as I know, Lamplighter’s first published book and it’s not incredibly obvious. Her writing is, simply put, beautiful and flowing. It’s easy to get lost in her prose as she weaves together the strands of her plot.
That’s not to say that this book is perfect, because it’s not.
When it’s all said and done, I felt the flowery and beautiful writing worked to somehow cover up a somewhat shallow and predictable plot. While I can see the logic of Lamplighter using a quest-type idea to keep the plot moving forward, it did get rather tiring to hear about the small group of main characters constantly going from one point to another to fulfill some goal or get something, much like a scavenger hunt. This does get the job done, though. The plot steadily moves forward and the constant change of scenery is refreshing and adds an interesting factor to this book that would have otherwise been missing.
The Miranda intensive parts of the book can be a chore to read about. Mephisto, her brother that is stark raving insane and Mab, the PI who works with her add a humorous undertone to a serious book and keep things light when situations would easily get bogged down with overly serious dialogue or happenings. Her two supporting characters can easily keep the reader turning pages. 
There are other mysteries besides the “where is Prospero” one. There are several questions that are raised regarding Miranda’s past or issues involving her family which are incredibly interesting. While this is an urban fantasy book, there is so little romance in it, it makes me wonder what on earth I was actually reading before I got my hands on this book. There were no moments that induced any queasy sensations or eye rolling bouts of sensational lust.
It should be noted that this book doesn’t really end as much as it just stops. There is a cliff hanger and many of the major questions that are hinted to, or outright asked in this book aren’t answered. This is the first book in a trilogy. The second book Prospero in Hell is out right now (in the US, though I am not sure about the rest of the world). Individuals who read this book and enjoy it will probably be chomping on the bit to devour the next book in the series.
While I did enjoy this book, I do have some reservations regarding it. The strongest part of Prospero Lost is the writing, followed closely by Lamplighter’s stunning world building. All in all, this book is worth picking up and is highly enjoyable if you are a reader who is willing to suspend belief and just enjoy the stunning craft Lamplighter uses to weave together her vision. It’s easy to get sucked into Lamplighter’s world, and one cannot help but be interested in the drama that is the Prospero family. 
4/5 stars

7 Responses

  • Liviu

    I liked this one a bit unexpectedly too – for me the deciding factor to try it was that the author is the wife of JC Wright who is one of my favorite authors of sf, online rants aside.

    I have the sequel and while it dropped a bit on my pile since I have several other asap's to read first, I hope to read it in September; it starts immediately after this ends and continues the same 'romp" like narration.

    In an aside, you may try Elfland and especially the upcoming Midsummer Night (sort of sequel but stands well alone) by Freda Warrington for a superior class of contemporary fantasy

  • Sarah

    I will put those books in my TBR pile. My local library has "Elfland" so I will probably be checking it out within a week.

    I really didn't expect to enjoy this book as much as I did and I will admit you are the ONLY reason I even picked it up. I saw that you read it on Goodreads and gave it five stars and I figured that if you read it and enjoyed it I'd be a fool not to give it a try. I also noticed that you have "Prospero in Hell" in your "currently reading" stack on Goodreads. I'm excited to see what you think of it.

  • ediFanoB

    Today I posted my review of THE DREAM OF PERPETUAL MOTION by Dexter Palmer which is also based on THE TEMPEST. Miranda, Prospero and other people play an important role.

    After reading your review I need to think about PROSPERO LOST. I hesitate to add new books to my list because I fail to read all the unread books who fill my shelves at home….

  • Sarah

    I just saw that you posted a review. I'm about to run out the door but I plan on reading and commenting on it later tonight.

    I know what you mean about adding books to the TBR list. I keep adding them and adding them and the ones that have been on there forever just keep getting ignored…. Ah, the problems of being a book reader….

  • Liviu

    Thank you for the kind words; I am happy you liked the book and I really liked this review.

    There are 4 more recent books that fall under the contemporary (as in action timeline of course) fantasy label and I enjoyed a lot, running the gamut from a pure romp like this one to darker literary stuff – Jasmyn/Bell (big time personal favorite), Her Fearful Symmetry/Niffenegger, The Girl with the Glass Feet/Ali Shaw and White is for Witching/Oyeyemi, all but the first available in the US

  • Sarah

    I am going to pick up "Elfland" and "Heroes Die" from the library tonight. "Elfland" will be an interesting read for me as romance tends to make me a little ill, but your review of it makes me excited and I'm all about trying out new things and pushing myself in new reading areas so I'll give it a go. I'm excited!!

    Thanks for the reading suggestions. I really do appreciate it.

  • Kat Hooper

    I was thinking about reading this one soon — thanks for the review!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.