Book Review: Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot…

Guy Fawkes and his companions
Did the scheme contrive,
To blow the King and Parliament
All up alive.

English Folk Verse (c.1870)

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When I was in my last two years of high school, I read a variety of books on the history of England, starting with the invasion of Julius Caesar. To say I had the time of my life was an understatement. I remember quite a bit of what I read, including one thing:

There was a lack of books on the Gunpowder Plot.

I’ve always been fascinated with the story, and any books I’ve found since that day I devoured. 

The BBC Sherlock episode, The Empty Hearse, that featured, the Gunpowder plot? Loved that episode. 

So, when I heard Nadine’s book was going to be about it, I was thrilled. The fact that it was a historical fantasy? Pish-posh. That mattered not. Nadine is a top-notch writer and a wonderful human being, so I knew anything she wrote would be good.

If you don’t know what went down on that cold night over four hundred years ago, I’ll keep my mouth shut, because that’ll spoil the ending.

Can we first talk about how gorgeous the cover is?? Okay, on to the review. 

 

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From the back cover:

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.

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  • With only 440 pages, you wouldn’t think you’d have time to form attachments with all the many characters, but you do. Robert Catesby, the group’s charismatic leader, even leaves an impression on your heart. Each of the plotters has a story, a reason for fighting for what they believed in, and whether you’re on their side or not, you’re touched.

  • Many people have said that Thomas was whiny or self-righteous, but I found him to be far from that. Fawkes can be said to be a coming of age story, as Thomas forms his own thoughts and beliefs despite what others would have him to believe. I loved seeing him grow as a character.   

    The bond between Guy Fawkes and his son Thomas was also an emotional ride and just. Gah. Go read the book.

    Okay, enough on Thomas. Emma was cool too. There’s been a lot of posts and books recently about how women need to be meek and quiet and sit at home. Seeing warrior woman Emma was nice and I loved it.

  • I loved the attention to detail that Nadine gave. You felt like you were sneaking out of London with Thomas, roaming the market with him and Emma, or at the Duck and Drake, plotting with the plotters.

  • There’s really a lot to unpack in 1605 England: feuds between Catholics (Keepers) and Protestants (Igniters), religious persecution, race, and freedom. Woven into this is “color power,” which is the ability to control certain things based on the color of your mask. For example, brown mask wearers can control dirt, blue mask wearers can control water. It’s simple to understand, and I liked that.

    Everything is woven together so perfectly I legit found myself wondering why we didn’t have color power anymore. ***this is what happens when you stay up till one in the morning to finish a book. ***

I cried at the end. Because the ending is that powerful. Fawkes is so much more than a story about the Gunpowder Plot.

It is a story of truth.

Of love.

Of sacrifice.

That God is with us.

Always.

You can find Fawkes here.

 


91q9KosGMvL._US230_NADINE BRANDES once spent four days as a sea cook in the name of book research. She is the author of the award-winning Out of Time Series and Fawkes (July 2018) Her inner fangirl perks up at the mention of soul-talk, Quidditch, bookstagram, and Oreos. When she’s not busy writing novels about bold living, she’s adventuring through Middle Earth or taste-testing a new chai. She and her Auror husband plan to live in a Tiny House on wheels. Current mission: paint the world in shalom.


 

Have you read Fawkes? What did you think? Let’s chat in the comments!

Rebecca Morgan

I’m Back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hey friends! How have you been?

I’ve missed all of y’all, but I enjoyed my break, needed my break. It was wonderful not to be pounding the keys at midnight Friday, which is what I do every week. ***epic fail.***

But I’ve come back from my hibernation refreshed, rested, and with some blog post ideas (yay, I’m ahead!)  I’m excited to share with you in the future.  

I never wrote a blog post for March, and one for April is due, so here is what I’ve been up to lately.

Books 

 

 

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han – [0/5] I have a long rant on why I didn’t like this book, which you can find on Goodreads here.

Fairest – by Marissa Meyer [4/5] I loved Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles series, so when I had some extra money, I bought Fairest. I didn’t enjoy it and I can’t really point out why. Marissa Meyer’s writing was excellent, I just….. didn’t like it.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling — [5/5] I mean, it’s Harry Potter, enough said. This is my second (maybe third) read, and I can definitely say that The Half-Blood Prince is my second-favorite Harry Potter book, and I can’t say why, cause spoilers.  

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — [5/5] This is my favorite Harry Potter book, for so many reasons. J.K. Rowling did such a superb job wrapping everything up.  ***Gah. All the feels.**

Worlds Beneath by K.A. Emmons – [5/5] This book was so good. K.A. Emmons is a fantastic writer. I enjoyed her first book, and was thrilled to be able to read book two ahead of it’s release date. Y’all, the second book was better than the first, and I loved the page turning tension (except I was reading on my computer, but you get the point). You seriously have to read her books, there are no excuses. 

 

Other

It’s that time of year again, folks. Crawfish. That southern delicacy that Louisiana does right. You haven’t tasted real crawfish till you’ve tried ours. #SouthernersDoSeafoodRight

*** They are not crayfish, crawdads, or mudbugs, they are crawfish. Sponsored by the people of Louisiana for people who get the name wrong. 

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I’m going to the OYAN workshop, and as always, I’m beyond excited. It’s kind of hard for me to believe this will my 5th OYAN workshop. I mean seriously, where did the time go? It’s almost a month till I leave, and it’s never too early to start packing. 

 

That second picture is of organic Purell. Something I was extremely ecstatic to find. 

I updated my Pinterest account to a business account. Not huge news, I know, but I love it.

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I’m still in the process of redecorating my room, and here are my new book shelves. I’m insanely in love with how pretty they are. 

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The World of Writing

Ashes Like Frost. 

Yeah.

I was a lazy scum who didn’t take prime opportunities to write, write, write. I wish it was physically possible for me to kick myself, because I would. I wrote about five thousand words in April, which may seem like a lot, but I can usually get eight-ten thousand.

You know that feeling when things you outlined months ago start to come together? When those things mesh with other characters’ stories, when you can add things that won’t jar the story? 

I have that feeling now, and it’s exciting, thrilling, and totally worth fan-girling over. Yes, I’m twenty-something years old and fan-girl. 

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I was asked to write a review of Nadine for the OYAN newsletter which I was ecstatic to do. She is definitely my favorite author after Tolkien.

 

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How has your month been?

Chat with me in the comments?

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