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Publisher's 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.

©2018 Nadine Brandes (P)2018 Thomas Nelson

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  • Overall
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Really loved this book!

I listened to the audiobook version of the book, and the narrator does an excellent job. I HIGHLY recommend it. Perhaps because I was listening to the audiobook, the slower pacing at the beginning didn't bother me because the narrator kept it very animated and lively.

This book is historical fantasy like My Lady Jane, but sticks much closer to actual historical facts and is a much more serious book. It really brings the characters involved in the Gunpowder Plot to life.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic all the way through!

LOVE it! Story gripped me from beginning to end. Lots of great twists. Truly amazed at the way historical elements are woven in with fantasy elements. Such a memorable story that tugs on your emotions.

The narrator did a great job. Usually with audiobooks I get caught up in thinking "I wouldn't read it that way". I didn't have that problem with this narrator at all. Though I will admit I didn't care for his women voices. I would have preferred if he didn't try to sound like a woman because it just doesn't work. Otherwise absolutely splendid!

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Heart-pounding, though-provoking fantasy!

I have followed Nadine Brandes on social media for over a year but hadn’t read any of her previous three books because dystopia just isn’t my thing. So, when this historical fantasy called “Fawkes” came out, I got curious. I don’t remember reading a historical fantasy before, and it just plain sounded interesting. Still, I waited until some reviews came out before making any decisions because I am a sensitive reader and with the story revolving around a murder plot and a violent time in England’s history, I wanted to be sure the descriptions of violence didn’t go beyond what I’m comfortable with. When the review I needed was finally posted, I took the chance and jumped in.

I’m glad I did. :) Fawkes was different from anything I’ve read before. So different, that had the writing not been strong enough, it might not have grabbed me the way it did, but Nadine is a master of her craft, creating compelling characters and an interesting world with a unique and complex magic system that I really enjoyed.

I felt the author did an excellent job of capturing how complicated that time in history was. Neither side of the conflict was fully in the right, and that is something I feel the need to address more fully. BOTH sides of the conflict were doing things they shouldn’t have been doing: The Igniters were being prejudiced against and executing Keepers for their beliefs. The Keepers were ALSO being prejudiced and a group of them was plotting to kill (and actually killing) Igniters and plotting to kidnap a child. If you ask me, neither side was the “good guy” and the whole point of the story was that being part of a certain group/denomination doesn’t make you a true believer. The White Light itself said that not everyone who claims to be united with it truly knows it the way they should. That includes people who call themselves Igniters. Ultimately, I feel it was individual characters who were the “good guys” in the end, because they made right choices both morally and in the way they responded to the White Light: not by trying to control it or use it to control all colors (which, as best as I could tell, it seemed some of those who called themselves Igniters were trying to do), but by allowing *it* to work through *them*.
They took the actions they took in the name of morality and following the White Light’s guidance so that HUMAN BEINGS would not be killed just because of their beliefs, whether they agreed with those beliefs or not. Because Keeper or Igniter, a life is a life.

Additionally, the “White Light” was an element of the story I personally liked, but I also understand why it confused some readers so they weren’t quite sure what, exactly, it was intended to be. Some saw it as allegorical, and some didn’t even think there was specifically a Christian spiritual element in the story at all aside from how the fantasy elements were twists on the religious conflict. White Light *could* be seen as being Holy Spirit-like, but I felt that it isn’t a straight one-to-one allegory like Narnia where Aslan equaled as close of a personification of Jesus that C. S. Lewis could manage. The better word than “allegory” in this case, in my opinion, is that White was “reminiscent” of the Holy Spirit, while also being its own thing within the context of the world. That way, whether an individual reader decides they see White as being like the Holy Spirit or just sees it as yet another fantasy element in a fantasy retelling of a historical event, the story still works. I personally was okay with the author allowing the reader this choice. For one thing, God, and thus the Holy Spirit, is so complex, it is impossible for us limited humans to fully capture everything He is in any allegorical character no matter how hard we try, so it wasn’t like I was expecting perfection in that area. My main concern about any allegorical representation of God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit is that it be respectful and not feature that representation doing anything that outright goes against who God is. I personally felt that the White Light, while it could sometimes be quite sassy, didn’t ever cross any lines that bothered me on that level. Like, even though White was sassy, it was never mean or uncaring/unloving even then. The sass was just light-hearted humor, and I do actually believe God has a sense of humor even if it isn’t expressed verbally the way the White Light expresses it. Just look at the platypus. :P

Now that I’ve gotten past the heavier stuff, I think I’ll fangirl just a teensy bit over the characters because Nadine is SO GOOD at writing them! They and their relationships were so complex, and I loved how both the characters and the relationships evolved during the story.

Talk about complicated parent-child relationships…Guy and Thomas Fawkes were a fascinating duo when they interacted, and they were interesting as individuals, too, even if I did like Thomas more than Guy.

Emma, however, was my favorite character. I loved how she could be both soft and strong, and that that strength came from more than just physical strength (though she was capable of defending herself when needed, the ability to fight was NOT the focal point of who she was as a person.) It was her moral strength and ability to show love even to those with whom she disagreed that stood out to me. She was a stark contrast to the society around her who resorted to violence and hatefulness to try to solve its problems, and she stuck to her morals no matter what, using discernment and the guidance of the White Light to decide right from wrong, rather than going with what society said was right and wrong.

There’s another thing I loved about this story: The emphasis on discernment. One of the best quotes in the book: “How many of us acted and spoke out and fought for beliefs that we held because our environment told us to? As much as I wanted to blame my England, I knew the blame sat with me. I hadn't trained myself to discern. To examine. To seek the source.” We. Must. Be. Discerning. Just because society, or our favorite celebrity, or politician, or even our own parents say something is right or true, doesn’t mean it is. We must step out on our own, investigate, and separate truth from lies.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book. Like, REALLY enjoyed it, and am extremely excited for Nadine’s next historical fantasy, “Romanov.” I recommend Fawkes to those who don't mind somewhat frequent violence that doesn't quite get graphic, but is sometimes a little intense.

Because this is a review of the audiobook, I’ll also add that the narrator was positively wonderful. His voice was perfect for Thomas and he was great at changing it to give the other characters their own unique sound as well. I hope he gets to work on Nadine’s future books as well!

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Fawkes is the recipe for the perfect book!

It's been a long time since I've sat down to listen to an audio book and gotten hooked so fast. The story was so intriguing and inspiring! I loved how the author gave the characters such relatable struggles. With the perfect amounts of suspense and excitement mixed gently with a dash of genuine and beautifully written romance, then a pinch of magic situated in history, Nadine Brandes creates a story that all ages can enjoy. The narrator brought to life her words with exceptional inflection and emotion. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can't wait to get the hard cover and bury my face in it!

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History and Fantasy Collide in a Grand Explosion

Fawkes captivated me from the first chapter. It's a fast-moving story with well-drawn characters, both fictional and those inspired by real historical figures. The magic system is great, and I especially love how it's used in the end. The rivalry between the Keepers and Igniters was a clever way to fictionalize historical circumstances. Thomas is an interesting hero with both his inner and external conflicts. Emma proves to be a great heroine with her own journey that is as surprising as it is fascinating. The inclusion of real life people such as King James, John Dee, and of course Guy Fawkes only adds to the depth of this story.
The narration is perfect. I already read Fawkes, so the audiobook was my second time through the book and I loved it even more.

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Loved it!!

SO WORTH WAITING FOR!!

The character development was amazing an didn't seem forced or rushed. I loved the unique spin on historical England! There were so many deep and real messages throughout the characters' thoughts and struggles that elevated the novel to a whole new level.

This was one of my first audio books, and I truly enjoyed the slower pace and the engaging voices. Well done!