20 Sept 2018

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

 Thomas Nelson, July 10th 2018 
448 Pages, Hardback and Audio

Genre: Fantasy/Historical Fantasy 
Setting: Fantasy Version of 17th century Britain, primarily London. 

Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England.

Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared, but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death. But what if death finds him first?

Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in.

The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King.

The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other.

No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

'Fawkes' took an extremely interesting idea and concept: weaving a well-known historical event with fantasy elements to create a whole new and intriguing world for readers. I had sort of mixed feelings towards this story at the beginning, but ended up liking it quite a lot.

It was well written, used excellent world-building, and presented the struggle of the two teenage protagonists struggling to find acceptance and their place in the world very well. I felt it also conveyed some of the undercurrents of political unrest and mistrust of the time well. Only instead of Catholics and Protestants, the conflict is between two groups called 'Keepers' and 'Igniters' with opposing views of the system of magic/colour power underlying the fantasy setting. Although its kinda more like an allegorical representation of those two group's approach to God in a way. 

However: this I can accept this story might not be according to everyone's taste and there were a few things which grated on me. First of all was the some of the modern language and Americanisms. Sorry had to mention them. For the most part, thy weren't very noticeable but I occasionally found myself jarred right out of the story with words like 'swell': and not used in the noun or verb form.

Given that this was Historical Fantasy, I think the reader can be forgiving in terms of historical accuracy and realism. However, there were one or two slip ups that kind of stood out. In one scene, when Thomas and his father were standing outside the Houses of Parliament, (also known as the Palace of Westminster), it is referred to as the House of Lords.

I think the author has conflated the House of Lords, which is an institution , with the Houses of Parliament, which is a building. Sort of like referring to the US Capitol building as the 'Senate'.
Also, the characters seemed to be under the impression that Parliament consisted of the Lords and the King: it has actually consisted of two Houses since its foundation in Medieval times.
The Lords and the Commons. Both of whom meet in the Houses of Parliament in two separate Chambers. Maybe I'm just verging on the pedantic though as a Brit who likes to see our governing institution accurately represented. 

Although that said, the geography of 17th century England is more accurately represented here than it is in some other novels, and this is fantasy! That building on the front cover is the Tower of London though, in case readers wondered.

All in all though, I enjoyed Fawkes more than I thought I might. Its a good choice, perhaps for those who don't want straight out fantasy or are relatively new to the fantasy genre. I would certainly check out more books by this author.

I requested this title from the publisher via BookLook Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

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