I’m always here for a good bit o’ dark magic and assassination plots, so I was excited to read Fawkes!
I actually know nothing about the original Guy Fawkes (except that isn’t there a day each year to burn pyres of him??? The British aren’t letting this go). So Fawkes is a reimagining of London (but with MAGIC) and follows the point-of-view of Guy Fawkes’ son! It has a devastating stone plague, an intriguing colour-based magic system with masks, and the whole point is to blow up the king. Because what else would one do on the weekend, I guess.
The whole premise was so unique!
Thanks so much to the author for sending me this ARC! (Nadine is the loveliest okay?!)
It’s narrated by 16-year-old Thomas Fawkes, who is hopelessly and dutifully honourable.
Awww!! He is the ultimate Gryffindor. HONOUR! GOODNESS! GENTLEMANLY PLEDGES! Giveth me mine sword and I shALL DEFEND THE WORLD. He’s such a good-hearted little dork, look at him go. But his life is in shambles because: (a) he needs his dad to gift him a mask so he can become a magician, and his DAD DIDN’T, and (b) Thomas is also infected with the plague, which will turn you to stone eventually. He’s blind in one eye and ostracised because of this. I actually get worried about “cure” storylines…but I felt the plague functioned a lot like cancer, and since it’d kill him eventually, he was absolutely desperate for the cure.
I really felt for Thomas as he grappled with the fear of his own illness killing him. And omg there was this one scene?! The writing so vividly described his agony that my hEART LURCHED.
(Although full disclosure…I am a Slytherin myself, so Thomas’ honourableness made me laugh aaaand it probably wasn’t supposed to. And I wish he’d been more messy and dynamic. I’m sORRY I’M A TERRIBLE PERSON.)
The magic system was also awesome!
It’s based on masks and colours! So my Phantom-of-the-Opera-obsessed-youth is delighted. Thank you. Basically everyone speaks to magic via colours —> but you can only do so when you have your mask. Thomas is maskless, plagued, and dismissed by his father, Guy Fawkes, so the story begins with Thomas doing everything he can to track down Guy and get his frikkin’ mask.
Do we have father/son issues? Why yes we do. Honestly Guy was horrible?! There was NO REASON to deny Thomas his mask, but he diiiiiid. But I do love books that focus on messed up family dynamics (WHO WANTS FUNCTIONALITY) and Thomas trying to decide if he (a) likes his dad, (b) and believes in the cause to blow up King James, and (c) what side of the warring magicians he’s on….it was all captivating.
Emma was my FAV secondary character. She’s badass, paints, isn’t going to let a sucky society pin her down, and the relationship between her and Thomas is slow and tentative. No instalove here!
The other secondary characters were historically accurate (!!) super cool. But I also got them all mixed up haha. I am bad with names, ok. I called my latest nephew Angus today. His name is…not Angus. It’s Atlas. Which isn’t even, close, Cait omg fix your life.
- It’s a historical RETELLING (!) but there’s still plenty of accurate history there which made things so interesting
- I like how it did a twist on the warring religions in London, but made them magicians!
- The colour-coded magic was GREAT because I literally colour-code my life. Relatable content.
- EMMA THO.
- Lots of backstabbing.
- Torn loyalties.
- The ending is pretty frikkin’ tragic.
- GUNPOWDER AND TREASON.
Fawkes is an enjoyable retelling of the infamous Guy Fawkes, but with magic amongst the gunpowder. It’s not fast paced at all, but it crafts such a detailed view of London! I enjoyed this twist and how everyone was rather dubiously morally grey!
Fawkes by Nadine Brandes is out July 10th!!
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.