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.
It took me a while to write this review because it took me a while to figure out how I felt about this book. It’s different than most books that I read in that it’s told from the point-of-view of a sixteen-year-old boy, but that didn’t bother me or throw me off. Still, something about the story didn’t quite sit well with me, and I needed time to think to figure out why/what it was.
Here’s the outcome of that reflection time: this is an intriguing story with an interesting premise and a truly creative supernatural twist. There’s a lot of suspense, vivid descriptions, and just a dash of romance.
There’s also a lot of plot.
I’m really a fan of character-driven stories; I want to connect so deeply with the characters that I feel what they’re feeling (which is probably why I love a well-written romance novel). Fawkes includes a lot of characters, but the only one there’s a chance to connect with is Thomas, and I didn’t really connect with him. Brandes includes a lot of details regarding the secondary characters, location, and assassination plot. For my personal tastes, I would have preferred fewer of those descriptions and more insight into the characters (for example, Thomas develops this deep respect for his dad, but it’s not really obvious why he did). I sometimes found myself skimming through details to get back to the character interactions.
I’m still giving this book 3.5 out of 5 stars, but needed to figure out for myself what it was about the story the prevented me from giving it 5 stars. If you’re looking for deep, emotional connections with the characters, this probably isn’t the story for you, but it’s still a captivating story.
*I received a free copy of this book. The opinions are my own.