Review: Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

Fawkes by Nadine BrandesFawkes
Nadine Brandes
Thomas Nelson
Publishes on July 10th, 2018

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About Fawkes

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 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.

My Review

Nadine Brandes’ latest YA book was an incredible allegorical take on the conflict during the Protestant Reformation. It zeroes on just one of the many conflicts that went on at that time, and presents it in a new way with a fantasy slant.

What I loved:

  • Color magic
  • Emma. She is such a brilliant, fierce character.
  • The romance. This is exactly how YA romances should be—a balance between two characters, where they support each other and help each other grow.
  • That ending (!)
  • All the heart in this book.

So many YA books these days lack warmth and heart, so it was refreshing to get to read a book where characters cared deeply, loved fearlessly, and were genuine.

What I didn’t love:

  • It took a long time to get started. I wasn’t properly “hooked” till about 2/3 through.
  • All the indecision. Thomas would voice a belief in one thing, and then flip-flop about it in the next scene. It was very frustrating that it took him so long to find conviction!
  • Some of the sentences used very modern vernacular, and it threw me off. It didn’t happen too often, but when it did, it was jarring.

While I can’t say I loved this book as much as some of Brandes’ other work, it was still a great novel that is well worth the read. (That ending, people! It slayed me–in the best way. 😉 )

Fawkes on AmazonRecommended for Ages 14 and up

Cultural Elements
Infrequent use of the word “negro” in keeping with the time period. Characters also described as African. Mention of slavery, and mistreatment of Africans. Thomas sees an African for the first time, and is startled. MAJOR SPOILER: one main character is revealed to be of African and English descent. END SPOILER.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Some name-calling, and mention of “wh—houses” as a reference to prostitution. 

Romance/Sexual Content
Mention of prostitution. One non-detailed kiss. Mention of mistresses.

Spiritual Content
Faith isn’t explicitly mentioned, but the battle between Keepers and Igniters is implied to be allegorical take on the Protestant Reformation (including a brief mention of Luther). Spoiler: White Light could be interpreted to be a reference to the Holy Spirit. End Spoiler.

Violent Content
Semi-graphic descriptions of stone plague, injuries, executions. Some are fairly disturbing.

Drug Content
Characters consume wine and ale. Some minor characters are drunk. 

Fawkes on GoodreadsNote: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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