Hey, hey, hey, everyone! I heartily apologize for ghosting this place the last couple weeks. But now I’m back with a review for the lovely book Fawkes by the lovely Nadine Brandes!
“I wasn’t ready to turn to stone.” How’s that for an equally memorable and chilling first line? I finished Fawkes last month, and I loved it. It’s one of those books that I keep thinking about, and one that I love more and more as I think about it!
Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone. The deadly Stone Plague that terrorizes all of England has finally found him, and Thomas is desperate for a way to escape the crippling disease. When his absentee father invites him into a tight-knit group of men wholly dedicated to the assassination of King James, Thomas accepts without question. The Stone Plague must go; King James’s death is supposed to be the answer as the silent war between Keepers and Igniters reaches a fever pitch. As Thomas navigates the world while the turmoil of a silent war, his own emotions, and his slowly petrifying body threaten to overwhelm him, he must choose what is true and what is really worth saving.
What I Liked:
- The characters. It’s clear that Nadine Brandes put a lot of work into fleshing out her characters and giving them very distinct roles and personalities. The cast isn’t huge, and the relationships are tangled and realistically complicated. My favorite character is definitely Emma; she is one of the best female characters that I’ve ever read. She’s wise, strong, courageous, and full of conviction and compassion, an inspiring and warmhearted character.
- The writing. Nadine Brandes is an incredibly talented writer, and Fawkes came alive in fantastic ways as I saw how carefully she wove her words and spun her story. There’s so much that writers can learn from this book; I can’t praise the writing highly enough.
- The history. As I read Fawkes, I felt like I was actually in 16th-century London, smelling the smells, traveling the streets, and seeing the sights. I can tell that Nadine Brandes researched very well for this book, and it gives you a great feel for how London was in the 16th century without making you endure bouts of info-dump syndrome. 🙂
- The magic. The color powers were such a unique take on a magic system, and it added a dimension of brightness and beauty to the storyworld. I loved how fresh it felt, and the portrayal of society in England took on a whole new level of distinction and originality with the addition of color powers.
- The plot. Oh, my goodness. After the slightly slower first 100 pages, the elements of political intrigue, confused ideals, and a silent war combine into a page-turner of a book. This is a masterful plot, and the author pulled off the resolution perfectly.
- Emma and Thomas’s relationship. Although it’s a non-melodramatic, adorable, clean romance, the thing that I most love about Emma and Thomas is their friendship despite the fact that they heatedly disagree on some points. In this day and age, when people are quick to tear down and belittle those who think differently from them, it’s so important to be loving and respectful of others. Emma shows that it’s completely possible to stick to your convictions while at the same time being loving to others.
What I Didn’t Like:
I love most elements of this book. However, there was one part that was not my favorite:
- The allegory. I honestly feel bad admitting this because I know that a lot of people love the allegorical element of Fawkes. However, something felt wrong about it for me. For one thing, White Light did not at all seem like he should be a God figure; it just felt weird to me. I honestly can’t put into words exactly what was wrong about it, but it was just a strange part of the book. I don’t think that I would have had a problem with it if I didn’t know it was supposed to be allegorical, but it just didn’t sit well with me.
So…that’s all. If you’ve read Fawkes, I would love to hear your thoughts on the allegorical element of the story. 🙂
Characters drink ale several times throughout the book. There’s one kiss. In a garden at a party, there are private areas for “carnal lovers” (nothing graphic at all). A girl threatens a boy by saying that she’ll tell her guardian the boy forced himself on her. Characters mention a man who committed adultery. There’s some violence and fighting throughout the book.
Would I Recommend It?
Definitely! Fawkes was a magical adventure of a book with an intense plot, unique characters, a richly researched setting, and powerful themes. I’ve learned so much about writing from Fawkes, and Emma has been so encouraging and inspiring for me. Like I mentioned above, the allegorical element was disappointing for me, but it’s not a deal breaker.
In keeping with the YA rating of this book, I’d say that readers 14 and up would love Fawkes, and I give it four out of five (4/5) stars.
Have you read Fawkes? If so, how did you like it? What’s your opinion on the allegory in the book? What have you been reading lately? Let me know in the comments!