By Nadine Brandes
Thomas Nelson, 2018
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.
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Intriguing concept for a young adult book, Fawkes mixes fantasy with a historical fiction plot. Imaginative and inspired, this plot contains enough content for several books. I think I would have enjoyed it more in a series rather than just the one, but then again, maybe that’s just because I want to read more. Thomas Fawkes’ story is one with many twists and turns, with not knowing who to trust, but in the end emphasizes the importance of truth, God and friends.
I was surprised by the amount of lessons and truths that were woven into this book. Some highlights include: the importance of truth; beauty of a soul vs. outer beauty; speak to God and He will respond; the lies of politics and the distortion of truth through lack of perspective; representing God without doing His will; racial differences and how we all have different gifts. Overall, this book is packed with hidden truths and morals that are great to emphasize to our young readers. There is a rather dark discussion throughout the book of killing off the King of England and some lesser characters are hung for treason at the end of the book, I think that it is important to highlight that.
*Potential Spoiler* I did find the construct of God speaking to Thomas rather jarring, because there are colloquial and non-time-period terms used such as “awesome” or “hot”. I think that God has a sense of humor and definitely tries to connect with people through their culture and language, but since the character was speaking in slightly more historically accurate language, these threw me off.
Nadine is an extremely gifted writer with an amazing mind. I look forward to reading her next book, Romanov. Young adult readers (both actual young adults and those of us young at heart) will enjoy this book.
If I was to hope one thing, that she might simplify it a little or extend it into a series. 🙂
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