This intricate and complex novel was an amazing read. The time period is late Victorian but very different from the one in the history books. People emanate smoke from their bodies with any sinful, unclean, or fearful thoughts. Smoke comes in many colors and forms depending on the person and the nature of their thoughts. It permeates all aspects of society and culture. The story was fascinating and thought provoking but the characters were the best part of the story. I got attached and genuinely cared about them. This was so engrossing and wonderful. I can't recommend it more!
Readers of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and Arcadia by Iain Pears are sure to be mesmerized by Dan Vyleta’s thrilling blend of Dickensian historical fiction and fantasy, as three young friends scratch the surface of the grown-up world to discover startling wonders—and dangerous secrets.
In an alternate Victorian England those who are wicked are marked by the smoke that pours out of their bodies. The aristocracy are clean, proof of their virtue and right to rule, while the lower classes are drenched in sin and soot.
Thomas Argyle is the only son of a wayward aristocrat. Charlie Cooper is his best friend. When Thomas finds himself under the boot heel of a sadistic headboy in the treacherous halls of their elite boarding school, he and Charlie begin to question the rules of their society. Then the boys meet Livia, the daughter of a wealthy and powerful family. She leads them to a secret laboratory where they learn that smoke may not be as it seems, and together they set out to uncover the truth about their world.
About the Author
DAN VYLETA is the son of Czech refugees who emigrated to Germany in the late 1960s. He holds a Ph.D. in history from King's College, Cambridge. Vyleta is the author of three novels, Pavel & I, The Quiet Twin, which was shortlisted for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, and The Crooked Maid, which was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and won the J.I. Segal Award. An inveterate migrant, Vyleta has lived in Germany, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. He currently resides in Stratford-upon-Avon in England.
“Part Dickens, part dystopia and totally immersive; a book as eerie and atmospheric as its sooty muse.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Mr. Vyleta . . . writes with intricacy and imagination and skillful pacing; never once would I have considered putting his book down. . . . In the manner of both a Dickens novel and the best young adult adventure stories (the Harry Potter series among them), the children run away together to uncover the dark secrets of the grown-up world. . . . His ending, which I wouldn’t dare reveal here, is a real firecracker, and the lessons Mr. Vyleta wishes to impart are largehearted.” —Jennifer Senior,The New York Times
“Compelling. . . . Deliriously imagined. . . . This gas-lamp fantasy at time borders on steampunk through the grimy lens of a dystopian past.” —NPR
“Smoke is one of the most original and enthralling books I have read in a long time. . . . An addictive combination of thriller, fantasy, and historical novel, with a dash of horror. It’s chilling and complex and amazingly imaginative.” —Marilyn Dahl, Shelf Awareness
“Astonishing . . . It's filling in that gaping hole left by both Harry Potter and Philip Pullman's Northern Lights. Yes, really.” —Stylist (London)
“Flat-out thrilling.” —The Globe and Mail (Toronto)