Fawkes by Nadine Brandes (2018)
YA Fiction | Historical Fantasy
“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.”
pooled ink Review:
Thank you to the publisher, Thomas Nelson, for sending me a copy for review!
The idea of a historical fantasy inspired by the Gunpowder Plot (now remembered as Guy Fawkes Day on November 5th) had me absolutely excited, and it was certainly a fun read that I’d recommend to historical fantasy lovers, unfortunately for me this story wasn’t quite a 5-star read largely because poor Thomas annoyed me from the very first page.
The story itself is written with beautiful imagery and some clever details, not to mention the intriguing ties to the historical events it’s inspired by, but I simply could not get myself to like Thomas! Poor guy haha. To be fair he is just a sixteen-year old boy with a lot to face in his life, but when it comes down to it he unfortunately came across often as whiny and young. Even when leading a prison escape or setting off on foot to London filled to the brim with anger and determination or sinking deeper and deeper into the clutches of a secret plot to topple King James and save the Keepers, even when doing brave, dangerous, and daring things he somehow never grew up and kept up this youthful whiny undertone to his character. I just didn’t like him. I liked many of the other characters, but unfortunately a story often hinges on its main character especially when told from that character’s point of view.
But moving on to the things I did like!
I really did enjoy the premise for this story and how the author wove in history with fantasy. It’s interesting on it’s own but ever more so when you know the connections they represent. The plot had a decent pace and many thrilling scenes, and I certainly was eager to know how it would all end. Furthermore I liked the author’s writing style when it came to things like world-building. It was easy to envision this world she’s created for her story.
Truly I think many fans of YA historical fantasy will love this story and fall into its elegant clutches, I simply am not quite one of them. Poor Thomas, I just couldn’t get past his character! But if you can read those first few pages and love him then definitely pick up this book because it has some great stuff in it and the author certainly has some creative talent to share.
Ugh this review is so short and vague, but even though I liked it I just don’t seem to have much to say…? I dunno, it was definitely a fun adventure though!
Fawkes takes an infamous plot from history and spins it with magic and war. Loyalties are tested, fates are decided, schemes are crafted in the shadows, and through it all the wind whistles through the gallows reminding them all of what they risk should they fail.
Purchase Here: Fawkes
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Meet Nadine Brandes!
Nadine once spent four days as a sea cook in the name of book research. She’s the author of FAWKES and of the award-winning The Out of Time Series. Her inner fangirl perks up at the mention of soul-talk, Quidditch, bookstagram, and Oreos. When she’s not busy writing novels about bold living, she’s adventuring through Middle Earth or taste-testing a new chai. Nadine and her Auror husband are building a Tiny House on wheels. Current mission: paint the world in shalom.