Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 18 Sep 2018

Member Reviews

This is just the type of historical fantasy I love. What a great take on the entire Guy Fawkes affair! I recommend this one if you like fantasy or are a history nerd. I'm looking forward to what the author has in store for us next!
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This was a good fantasy/dystopian book with many great characters. I did enjoy this book however it wasn’t one of my favorites. The plot didn’t pull in wanting more like I expected it to throughout the entire plot but the ending definitely reached a much higher climax than the rest of the story.
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Reviewing for NetGalley 

This book was a DNF for  me. I tried, but I couldn’t get past the first few chapters. I chose the apply for this based on the cover which is truely amazing. I couldn’t call the book that.
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such a fun book! cant wait to read more from this author! the world was really fun and it was a great fantasy with so many fun elements! the pace was a bit weird for me at bits but overrall a super fun read
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So so so good!!  This was such a pleasant surprise.  I'm now a huge fan of Nadine's! Thank you for sending me this eARC.
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Nadine Brandes retells the infamous Gunpowder Plot of 1605 with quite a bit of imagination in her new release, Fawkes. Instead of the traditional religious dispute, the plot is a result of disagreements using a color-power magic system, and Thomas Fawkes, son of Guy Fawkes, finds himself in the middle of the conflict. With plenty of intrigue, action, and a touch of romance, both the history and the fantasy of Fawkes come to life as Thomas begins to discover confidence in who he is, as well as his purpose within the conflict. It’s fun, it’s entertaining, it has great heart—I highly recommend this book.
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Fawkes is such a unique story! I absolutely loved the concept of the fantasy element woven in with this alternate history retelling. There's a lot going on in that concept but I think Nadine Brandes pulled it off well! I thought the magic system was well thought out and effective in the story. The idea of the Stone Plague was really interesting - a plague that was literally turning people to stone, don't read that every day. I really enjoyed the characters and I found them engaging. I felt like the stakes were really high for these characters and I just wanted to know that they would be okay. I also love the faith element that the author wove through the story - it was done really well. I would highly recommend this for fantasy fans!
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Fawkes is a historical fantasy. I don't read that much historical fiction and I'm so glad I was able to enjoy this one!

The MC, Thomas has the stone plague. And he dreams of wielding the power of Gray in hopes of being able to keep the sickness controlled. In doing so, he has to graduate from school and receive a color mask from his father but his world crumbles down when word about his condition have spread and a note from his father tells him that he wouldn't be made a mask.

Let me say that I love good fantasy novels. And my favorite part when reading them is looking at how the author did the world-building. Let me say that I applaud Brandes for creating such a unique world. Color power. Everyone can control a color or in some cases, can control multiple colors. It was truly amazing. Reading and learning more about the world the author had created proved to be a nice experience for a reader like me.

The argument between Keepers and Igniters was also something. It was like traditionalist vs modernist. By following Thomas, you can see how the issue between the two groups have affected the people and the government itself.

This book doesn't just portray fantasy and a little bit of history. It also talks about politics and a revolution. The idea of the stone plague was also interesting. 

By reading Fawkes, you'll see how powerful your imaginative mind can be. It was like watching colors move in your head while reading, thinking about what would happen if color powers were to exist in real life. 

I applaud the author for creating such unique elements and combining everything to build a pretty awesome fantasy read.
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In a world where color magic is the norm, Thomas Fawkes has the Stone Plague, and he doesn't know if he's going to survive. When his father, the famous Guy Fawkes, refuses to bring Thomas his mask for his color ceremony, Thomas goes to find him in London when he is kicked out of school for having no color mask. The war between Keepers (those who only control one color), and Igniters (those who can control multiple colors and speak to White Light), is intensifying to the point where people fear for their lives. Soon Thomas is entangled in a plot to kill King James and hundreds of Parliament members. He also begins to spend more time with Emma Areben, the beautiful and talented girl from school who makes Thomas question his beliefs and loyalty. Torn between loyalty to his father, his search for truth, and desiring to do what is right, Thomas will ultimately have to decide where his loyalty lies before it is too late.
I absolutely loved this book, especially because the author mixed historical fiction and fantasy. The writing was descriptive, heart wrenching, and compelling, and the characters were realistically drawn to the point where I became invested in the story. The alternative world the author created seemed so real to me, and the truths revealed through the story were so accurate and timely. I marked several places where the quotes were so good that I had to keep track of them. People should not be judged based on their appearance, skin color, disabilities, or anything superficial. It's what's in the heart that truly matters. The relationship between Thomas and Emma was sweet and heartbreaking, and I loved the way the story turned out because it seemed appropriate. I highly recommend this book!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. A positive review was not required, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.
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I love Nadine and I love her writing. She has an unique ability to immerse the writer into unique worlds and to build something from nothing in our minds. I loved how she transformed this book from a children’s nursery rhyme (and maybe a bit of V for Vendetta) and I love the concept she grasped. She made this world and made me almost believe it was real for awhile. The characters were all unique and well developed. The plot was intriguing and engaging. And the pacing was spot on.


However, I did feel that in some parts of the book the author treaded a thin line between what was politically correct to say and what wasn’t. They were hard for me to read because those words had hurt some of my friends in the past and I can imagine that maybe they might hurt someone today too. However, there was a bit of a reason for it (debatable) and the book turned out fantastic in the end.


Verdict: If you liked V for Vendetta or if you like masks definitely check out this book!
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Gorgeous cover (I admit the cover + the title are what drew me to the book in the first place), and also an interesting take on historical events by showing them under the colours (see what I did there) of magic rather than religion. In this alternate early 17th-century world, people are able to bond with a specific colour, and exert control over items of this colour through the wearing of a mask. The conflict arises from how people view the use of colours: Keepers (the ‘Protestants’) believe that a person should only master one colour and not give in to the ‘White Light’ that governs them all, lest greed devours them and twists their powers to nefarious ends; while Igniters (the ‘Catholics’) believe that listening to the White Light, and controlling more than one colour, is the way to go. Both factions are in conflict not only because of these views, but because of a plague that turns people to stone, with each camp blaming the other for the advent of this mysterious illness.

Enters our protagonist and point of view character, Thomas Fawkes, son of the (now) infamous Guy Fawkes, who’s been struck by this very Stone Plague and can’t wait until he gets a mask of his own, learns to master a colour, and hopefully manages to heal himself, or at least make sure the plague will stay dormant in him and never spread further than his eye. Of course, things don’t go as planned, and as he finds himself reunited with his father, the latter offers him a place in a plot meant to blow up the King and Parliament (as in, literally blow up, re: Guy Fawkes, Bonfire Night, and all that).

So. Very, very interesting premise, and I really loved reading about the London that is the backdrop in this novel—not least because I actually go very often in the areas depicted here, and I enjoy retracing in my mind the characters’ steps in streets that I know well enough. Little winks are found here and there, too, such as Emma’s favourite bakery on Pudding Lane, or a stroll to the Globe. It may not seem much, but it always makes me smile.

The story was a slow development, more focused on the characters than on a quick unfolding of the plot. I don’t know if the latter is a strong or a weak point, because I feel it hinges on the reader’s knowledge of the actual Gunpowder Plot: if you know about it, then I think what matters more is not its outcome, but the journey to it, so to speak. If you don’t know it, though, the novel may in turn feel weak in that regard, by not covering it enough. I didn’t mind this slow development, since it allowed for room for the side plot with Emma and the Baron’s household, and I liked Emma well enough. I still can’t decide whether her secret felt genuine or somewhat contrived, but in the end, it didn’t matter so much, because she was a kickass person, with goals of her own, and actually more interesting than Thomas.

As a side note: yes, there is romance here. Fortunately, no gratuitous kiss and sex scenes that don’t bring anything to the story and only waste pages. In spite of the blurb that mentions how Thomas will have to choose between the plot and his love (= usually, a sure recipe for catastrophe in YA, with characters basically forgetting the meaning of things like “priorities” or “sense of responsibility”), it is more subtle than that. Thomas at least also starts considering other people being involved, such as, well, the three hundred Members of Parliament meant to go up in flames along with the King. Casualties, and all that…

Bonus points for White Light, who we don’t see much of, but was overall engaging and somewhat funny in a quirky way. I just liked its interventions, period.

Where I had more trouble with the story was Thomas himself, who was mostly whiny and obsessed with getting his mask. All the time. You’d get to wonder why his father trusted him and invited him to be part of the plot in the first place. Often enough, he came as self-centered and constantly wavering in his beliefs. While I can totally understand that the prospect of his plague suddenly spreading left him in a state of constant, nagging fear, and therefore prone to focus on this more than on other people’s interests, the way he hesitated between which way to pursue (stay faithful to the plot, or listen to the White Light, or shouldn’t he listen to his father, but then are his father’s beliefs really his own as well, etc.) was a bit tedious to go through. Good thing Emma was here to set his sight straights, and by this, I don’t mean showing him the light (OK, OK, I should stop with the puns now), but making him aware that her circumstances are more complicated than he thinks, in his own ‘privileged’ way, even though his being plagued does contribute to a common understanding of being immediately rejected because of what one looks like.

Also, let’s be honest, Guy wasn’t exactly Father of the Year either, and the story didn’t focus much on developing his ties with Thomas. They were united through the plot, but that was pretty much all, when this could’ve been a wonderful opportunity to reunite them differently, in deeper ways, too. There just wasn’t enough about him, about his personality, and in turn, this lessened the impact of Thomas’ decisions when it came to him.

Another issue for me was the magic system. I got the broad lines, and the reason for the Keepers/Igniters divide, but apart from that, we weren’t shown how exactly this magic works. It is, I’m sure, more subtle than simply voicing an order to a specific colour, and there seems to be a whole undercurrent of rules to it, that aren’t really explained. For instance, why can the masks only be carved by the biological father or mother of a person, and not by an adoptive parent (or even by anyone else)?

Mention in passing as well to language: sometimes, it veered into too modern territory (I mean 20/21st-century modern English specifically, not ‘but Shakespeare’s English was technically Modern English, too’ ;)). I think it was especially prevalent in Thomas’ discussions with White Light, and I found this jarring.

Conclusion: 3 stars, as I still liked the story overall, as well as the world depicted in it, despite the questions I still have about it. I was hoping for a stronger story, though.
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This fantasy telling of the son of Guy Fawkes. I found the idea of using color magic to be intriguing. Its something I've only seen once before (The Belles - But it was used quite differently in that novel). This is a story of morals and taking sides. This book is perfect for anyone looking for YA fantasy historical fiction. I've never read anything quite like it, which felt really unexpected when reading a retelling of a very famous historical event. There were so many aspects that I loved. There was a plague (people turning to stone), color magic, fearless characters, even some family drama. Overall, I would definitely recommend it.
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I struggled to connect with the protagonist, Thomas and felt that he lacked his own voice. I struggled to read from his perspective, finding it tedious and rather dull. Thomas was in this constant state of confusion, never making a choice, this frustrated me because his reasons for abstaining from choosing a side never really made sense. I found his actions quite immature, add this to his selfishness and incessant complaining meant that I didn’t really like him. 

I also found the relationships and characters of each of the plotters was rather weak. Aside from their names (the names of the real historical figures), there wasn’t anything real about them. 

In the end Thomas' ability to annoy me and the under developed relationships lead to me not finishing the book at all.

I received a copy of this book for free from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Fawkes is a historical fantasy, something I'd honestly never read before, but I was rather intrigued by the idea. Diving in however I was not pulled right into the story as I thought I'd be. And that's not because of the plot. It was the characters. I was not very interested in Thomas at first. I don't know why since it has been a little while since I read the book and I don't remember all the details. 
My favorite part of Fawkes was the magic system. Like COLOR MAGIC??? Why has this NEVER been done before?? It was so unique and Nadine did a perfect job capturing it in the book. 
Moving farther into the story, I did end up really liking Thomas. He's a strong character and I appreciate that he makes his own decisions instead of just following what everyone else does.
Also, I love Emma too.
I was very upset when I finished reading this book because there is no sequel. It's a stand alone. *sobs.* 
Now I will go stare out the window and wait for UPS to deliver my hardcover. K Bye.
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Absolutely incredible, ordered for our library and bought the hardcover for myself!  What an amazing talent we’ve found in Brandes.  This was the perfect blend of historical fiction and fantasy I just loved it beyond words!  I can’t wait for what comes next from the mind of Brandes!  Yes, yes, and more YES!!!
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I didn't finish this book. The book was too confusing, the magical system was not explained soon enough not the connection to the historical Guy Fawkes. I feel like the book would have been better if it had only the magical system in an unaltered Elizabethan setting or only the guy falkes part of the story. I felt like the masks where a week attempt to connect the magic system and Guy Fawkes.
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In a parallel England, 1604, Thomas Fawkes is booted from St Peter's Colour Academy, unable to gain a mask. Which means he is not able to speak to any colour. He's not a Brown, able to communicate with dirt and soil, or a Green, with healing abilities, or a fiery Red, or even a Black, able to slip into the shadows. A Black, like his father. Guy Fawkes. Deciding to seek out his estranged father and demand his help, Thomas heads to London - where he soon becomes a part of the Gunpowder Plot. A plot to end the current reign - and save Thomas from the Stone Plague.

I think that I, along with several other non-Brits, have very little knowledge of the Gunpowder Plot. Just like non-Swedes might not have that much knowledge of the assassination of the Theater King. Which was what drew me to this book in the first place; even if it's a magical version of the original event, it stays quite true to the order written in history books.

Thomas is an interesting character, fueled by his need for acceptance by his father, to be allowed to wear a mask, and his survival instincts. He wants to live. All this combined makes him blind to what people with other viewpoints mean, at least for some time, which also feels real. True. Such feelings are strong and difficult to get past. You really do need another strong feeling to help that along. Such as love.

Enter Emma, Thomas' acquantaince from school whom he gets to know better in London. I would have liked to see even more of her, see further development, because I really did enjoy what she brought to the table. She's not a traditional 17th century girl - and perhaps her rebellion had to be tamed a bit to make things work.

The whole idea of colour powers was very clever, but I would have liked it explained better. A chart, maybe, of what the different colours could do. You got to see a few at work, and there were mentions of what other things might be possible, but as someone who loves a good encyclopedia... yes, a chart would have been nice.
(let me know if there is one in the published version, as this was an ARC!)
Also liked the allegory that the two groups of people - the Keepers, believing that each person should only command one colour, and the Igniters, believing that you can manipulate many colours by communicating with White Light - are basically the catholics and the protestants warring over England. Nicely done!

Overall, I did enjoy this story and do recommend it for people who like a bit of history - and a bit of magic.
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A deliciously clever historical fiction, infused with masks and colour magic in order to revisit the fiery tale of The Gunpowder Plot. Filled with a magic lore I have previously not seen/or heard of before in fiction, Fawkes is a refreshing take on the period, complete with 'forbidden' love, friendship, family and honour.
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This was so good! I loved the magic, the characters, the relationships, the history of it, I could go on and on! It was such an original concept and I enjoyed every second of it.

Thank you to NetGalley for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This review is of an ARC provided by NetGalley and the publisher.

Would you like an easy to understand history lesson about Britain's Gunpowder Plot and what led up to it?  Well, here it is.  All you have to do is remove the magic, change the Black Plague to the Stone Plague,  and substitute "Protestant" for the word Igniter and "Catholic" for Keeper.  Seriously, it is almost that simple.  Brandes does an excellent job of bringing real historical events and people into this fantasy.  The two characters who where killed with one bullet?  Yeah, they really existed and they really did die that way, believe it or not.  I hate to say it, but I might have actually learned more about the society at the time of the real plot from this book than I never did from a history book.  Well played, Ms. Brandes, Well played indeed.

Some people my criticize the main character, Thomas, as being self-centered and whiny.  He is ... very much so,   In fact, at the beginning of the book, he's not very likable at all.  But he's young and part of the plot of the novel is how he grows into a better person.  He has faults he has to overcome and sometimes they raise their ugly heads.  But the Thomas as the beginning of the book is a completely different creature than the Thomas at the end.  And I liked seeing him grown and change.

Definitely an exciting, enjoyable, and surprisingly educational read.
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