Book Review: Fawkes – Nadine Brandes

Title: Fawkes
Author: Nadine Brandes
Publisher: Thomas Nelson 
Release date: July 10th 2018
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fantasy

Summary:

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.

Review:

 

I’ve got to be honest… I’m more than a bit disappointed with this one.

I really wanted to like this one. I was really exited to read this, I loved the cover, I loved the idea, and I (almost) always love retellings. Sadly, it was pretty hard to get through this book. It took me almost two months to finish it(and I finish more than two books a week on average). I have to admit that I skimmed the last part of the book, because I just couldn’t put the effort in anymore.

My first and biggest problem was the magic, it was a mess. There were no clear boundaries at all and the extend of it’s possibilities never was explained properly. The magic is based on colours, by talking to an object in a certain colour you can make the object do certain things. A few questions kept bothering me:

  • What with colours that aren’t just red or green or… what about those greenish blues or those mixes between orange and red?
  • Objects with multiple colours, how are they handled?
  • I really wanted to have more details about the speech itself, now I just imagined speaking to green in an Irish accent, it wasn’t explained very well.
  • Where do the colours consciousness come from?
  • ….

I just didn’t care for any of the characters. Thomas was a really annoying boy, he wanted to be a man and made, weird “wanna be an adult” kind of decisions. He was really rude and made the weirdest and dumbest choices and it was absolutely impossible for me to connect with him. I’m not going to go into anymore detail because otherwise I’ll just write  a  whole review just about the main character. Guy Fawkes himself was such a strange man. I really don’t get why he switched his opinions about his son so often. The characters were probably the most. A retelling of his story just needed a bit more of Fawkes himself in it. We never really got any really info on him, which is a bummer.

The difficulties of writing retellings is that most people already know the ending, so the story has to be different enough to keep a reader interested. This book just kept repeating things and it was really hard to remain invested in the story. The fact that I already knew how it was going to end really didn’t help.

The story jumped so quickly and there were so many things that didn’t make sense overall and the result was that it was just impossible to love this book.

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