“But a man can be both soft and strong, maintaining a hope for the world.”
This book is full of so many cinnamon rolls! I mean that in the best sense. Emma is such a strong female character who will kick in a guy’s face if he messes with her but would rather be painting instead. And Thomas is such a tender-hearted and overly dramatic man. I love them both!
Book: Fawkes by Nadine Brandes
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Historical Fiction
My rating: 5/5 stars
One-word description: Stunning
I just so happened to request an audiobook version from my local library and was first on the waiting list. And wow, was the narrator amazing! A narrator can either make or break an audiobook, and Oliver J. Hembrough did a stunning job. His British accent fit the book perfectly, and he managed to voice the characters so each one sounded distinguishable.
Not only was the narrator excellent, but the writing style was so captivating. My sister joined me about a fifth of the way through the book and was hooked after about twenty minutes. Listening to the story became something we’d do together after school and work.
Another aspect I liked about the book was the way it took the gunpowder plot, which I know a bit about from my time living in England, and combined it with fantasy. The magic system is simple yet elegant, and—at least the way I see it—representative of the Christian denominations at tensions with each other of the day. Instead of Catholics and Protestants, the story has Keepers and Ignitors, who have differing beliefs on how magic should be used.
The differing magic factions, of course, played into the themes of the book, particularly that of fully exploring and understanding a belief system before condemning it. While the themes had some recognizable elements that allowed me to predict some plot points, I greatly admire the way the Ignitors and the Keepers were presented—in such a way that wasn’t preachy or dull.
As for the characters, I already mentioned how I liked Thomas and Emma. Guy Fawkes himself was a fairly interesting character, but I felt for most of the book that he didn’t deserve Thomas as a son. Last and certainly not least, comes White, whose voice is so wonderfully sassy. I only wish the color had more of a part in the narrative as a whole.
Overall, I gave Fawkes 5/5 stars for an excellent narrative, well-developed characters, and a great mashup of historical fiction and fantasy. I’d recommend the book to those who enjoy both genres and look forward to reading more books by Brandes in the near future.
Let’s chat! Has Fawkes made it to your to-be-read list yet? Have you read it yet? Have any historical fiction and/or fantasy recommendations?