by Dan Vyleta
First sentence: “‘Thomas, Thomas!’ Wake up!'”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Review copy pilfered from the ARC shelves at my place of employment.
Content: There’s a bit of violence and some swearing, but aside from it’s length (it’s huge) there’s nothing I wouldn’t expect a high schooler to be able to handle. It’s in the adult fiction section of the bookstore.
Imagine a world where everyone’s bad thoughts, awful actions, impure intentions come out of the body as smoke. The more wicked the action, the darker the smoke. And it doesn’t just come out of you, it stains you, eats away at your heart. Grim, no?
Thomas is a latecomer to the posh boarding school for the upperclass where they teach you how to control your smoke. It’s not really working for him; he’s convinced that because his father murdered someone, he’s destined to be black at heart. He makes friends with Charlie, a son of a prominent Lord. Everything is going as well as can be until Thomas and Charlie make some discoveries, and their lives change forever.
It’s a weird conceit: a Dickens-era London with this smoke (is it magic? It it destiny?). It’s getting at class issues (the more upper class, the less likely you are to smoke for various reasons), and issues of pre-destiny. It’s interesting. It’s an interesting bit of story weaving; there’s some dark characters, and a bit of twisty action. Even so, I found myself impatient with the book. It’s really long. Like REALLY long. I get impatient with really long books. But, I persevered. And, while this won’t be my favorite book this year, it was interesting. And I’m definitely intrigued with the ending.
So, maybe it was worthwhile.