"The laws of Smoke are complex. Not every lie will trigger it. A fleeting thought of evil may pass unseen; a fib, an excuse, a piece of flattery. Next thing you know, its smell is in your nose. There is no more hateful smell in the world than the smell of Smoke."
England. A century ago, give or take a few years.
An England where people who are wicked in thought or deed are marked by the Smoke that pours forth from their bodies, a sign of their fallen state. The aristocracy do not smoke, proof of their virtue and right to rule, while the lower classes are drenched in sin and soot. An England utterly strange and utterly real.
An elite boarding school where the sons of the wealthy are groomed to take power as their birthright. Teachers with mysterious ties to warring political factions at the highest levels of government. Three young people who learn everything they've been taught is a lie - knowledge that could cost them their lives. A grand estate where secrets lurk in attic rooms and hidden laboratories. A love triangle. A desperate chase. Revolutionaries and secret police. Religious fanatics and coldhearted scientists. Murder. A London filled with danger and wonder. A tortured relationship between a mother and a daughter and a mother and a son. Unexpected villains and unexpected heroes. Cool reason versus passion. Rich versus poor. Right versus wrong, though which is which isn't clear.
This is the world of Smoke, a narrative tour de force, a tale of Dickensian intricacy and ferocious imaginative power, richly atmospheric and intensely suspenseful.
©2016 Dan Vyleta (P)2016 Random House Audio
I see some people mentioned the book "slows down." All I can imagine is they enjoy a fast paced spy novel. Although this is sometimes described as a mystery, I would describe it as fine literature with themes of good versus evil, social classes, passion versus safety and sterility. Vyleta has crafted a world you can fall into. His language is so rich it subtly coaxes me into one emotion after another. For those that enjoy a thoughtful, brilliant novel, you've found it.
A book that addresses social consciousness and social order. Very interesting concept but requires your concentration. Not an easy, breezy beach summer read. The writing is excellent and the performance is first rate. You have to "tackle" this book but if you do, I think you will agree that it is well worth your time.
In this novel, during the Industrial Revolution, people literally emit smoke when they are angry or feeling strong emotions. It must have started as a good idea, but it did not develop in to a story line of any interest. I don't know how this idea could have been developed into an interesting novel, but it is very slow and repetitive.
Say something about yourself!
After countless attempts, I still do not have an idea what was the deal with the smoke. Of course I did not finish the book.
Not really "time well-spent." While I was intrigued at the beginning, the story began to lag seriously about half way through and then got really tedious by the last 25%. It was a chore to listen through to the end which I did because it took until the last 30 minutes to find out what the point had been, or was.
It would have been helpful to have had at least some sense of what was going on by the mid point.
An interesting set of scenes occurs while the three young protagonists are underground in a coal mine. But this location and ancillary characters prove not to be central to the plot and the author deserts them entirely as he moves on.
No! The premise is too farfetched, confusing, and not particularly engaging though the characters are relatively well conceived and fleshed out. In a sense, this book felt like very a interesting group of characters in search of a REAL story...a compelling narrative. I kept thinking what J.K. Rowling could do with them!
Big time disappointment though the performance was quite good.
Very intrigued at start, the plot draws you in but it becomes dull and boring. Just kept reading curious of how the story ties up. Disappointed. Great narrator though.
I read speculative fiction, YA, mysteries, entertaining nonfiction, & occasionally, heavier literature. I want it well written & literate.
Incredibly imagined, beautifully written. Defies classification. Sweeping, Dickensian story, of a world where emotions cause people to smoke., but the upper classes, through schooling, discipline, and subterfuge do not. Where there's smoke, there is the smoldering possibility of fire...
Great writing and an excellent performance makes this one of a handful of books I didn't listen to at a higher speed. It's part mystery, part adventure, part coming of age story all layered against a well executed take on the question: What would the world and society look like if people emitted smoke when they "sinned".
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