Thursday, July 11, 2019

Featured Book of the Month: Fawkes

Title: Fawkes

Series: Standalone

Author: Nadine Brandes

Genre: Young Adult Historical/Fantasy
(Alternate History)

Back Cover:
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 by are carried out in the 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 it. 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. ​

Excerpt from Chapter 1:
I wasn't ready to turn to stone. 

I leaned so close to the small wall mirror that my nose left a grease spot on the glass, but I held still. Or tried to. I couldn't control the trembling. The grease spot smeared. 

My right eye reflected a bright-blue iris, but it was the left side of my face that held me a whisper away from the mirror. Cracked stone blossomed from the chiseled marble that should have been an eye. The ball didn't move; the lid didn't blink. I lifted shaking fingers to my face. Petrification tickled the hairline of my eyebrow. A single infected hair protruded like a stone needle. 

The plague was spreading. 

Rating: Craft--4.8, Content--4.7, Overall--4.8

My Thoughts:
I personally enjoyed reading this novel--though I admittedly use the term "enjoy" somewhat loosely. Fawkes is a challenging and sometimes dark read. But it is definitely worth the ride.

The thoroughly researched setting and plot events provides a strong mooring for the fantasy, giving it an extra layer of realism. The fantasy recasts the familiar in an unfamiliar light, causing pause and pondering. This allows for more candid discussion of difficult subjects, ranging from racial tensions to religious divides and even to our perspective of God (hint: He has a wonderful sense of humor). All seemed deftly and biblically handled.

 I fully engaged with the characters and enjoyed watching the romance subplot blossom with great realism. The main plot is heart-pounding and page-turning, even knowing the historical outcome, as you agonize alongside the main character over the choices to be made.

And while there may be no happily-ever-after for this book, the ending is bittersweetly satisfying: There is a sense, upon finishing the book, that there was no other way the story could have ended.

Overall, an enthralling and thoroughly engaging read.

A highly recommended book for older teens and adults, especially those who enjoy historicals that are off the beaten path or who like fantasy mixed with the real world.

Not for younger teens, those with a sensitivity to the supernatural/magic, or those looking for a light read.

Sound like a book you would like to read? Purchase your copy here.

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