In these three novellas, unhappy teens find themselves displaced in time and saved by love.
In Lantern, 16-year-old Tori finds a lamppost on her grandmother’s property and a lantern that only lights up in her presence. The beam turns out to be a tiny person: a boy named Jared, who long ago was trapped inside the object while working for his master, Machin, a renowned maker of lanterns. As Halloween approaches, Tori must find a way to free Jared—or risk losing him forever. In Beacon, Serah Kettel, a disowned teenager in the medieval village of Havenbrim, takes up an apprenticeship with Machin. Tasked with opening a sealed globe, Serah instead becomes caught inside—until many Halloweens later when a boy releases her to a world she no longer understands. Finally, in Torch, an orphan named Graham succeeds Serah as Machin’s apprentice. As he did for Serah, Machin fashions a special lantern for Graham. This one is different, however, and in Pennsylvania one distant Halloween, Evelyn, an orphaned teen in her final year of school, strays too close to a lamppost and is whisked back in time to Havenbrim. Can Graham free her from her glass prison—and if he does, will she stay with him? Desalls (Time for the Lost, 2016, etc.) might skirt the edges of generic girl-boy longing, but her young characters have personality enough to stand apart, and Machin’s lamp-making adds sparkle to the trilogy. In fact, it is the artifice of Machin’s character that gives the collection its edge: an ominous uncertainty to weigh against those first gentle flutterings of teenage hearts. Each of the protagonists’ stories effectively stands alone, yet the three novellas also benefit from being read in tandem. Desalls casts a different slant on each telling of her Halloween scenario, and among these—simply written yet garnering a combined weight of experience—a shared tale emerges of how lives may develop and love may burgeon. From Havenbrim to the here and now, many YA readers will likely stare at the moon and dream.
A trio of innocent romances more magical and mysterious than the titles and covers might suggest.