Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

Fawkes was our “I’m Booked” book club pick for the month of November. We kind of had to pick this book with it being about Guy Fawkes. Guy Fawkes day is November 5th and my cohost, Lindsey’s, birthday. I went into this book not really knowing anything about the history of Guy Fawkes. I’m glad I did, because I learned a lot just from reading this story.

Thomas, riddled with the stone plague, is the great Guy Fawkes’ son, but he hasn’t seen his father in years. When he is denied his color power mask he goes in search of answers. What he finds is a new group of men plotting to kill the king and a girl on the wrong side of the plot. Will he choose to help murder the king or will he choose the other side, the side of the Igniters.

Thomas was a complicated character for me. He started out a little selfish and naive but soon grew into a compassionate person. Following his journey was both frustrating and rewarding. He really made up for his short comings in the end and found himself, but I wish there was a little more there for him.

Emma on the other hand was a powerful and dynamic character. I liked her from the very beginning. She stood up for herself and knew exactly what she wanted. She complimented Thomas quite well. There is a major twist with her character in the middle of the book and it was done perfectly. I wanted more of her towards the end of the book, she was such a well developed character. I would have liked to see more into her past and discuss more of who she was.

This book has a magic system that allows someone to control colors by wearing a certain color mask. There are two sides to this, the Igniters and the Keepers. Both at war with each other over their differing beliefs. The Igniters believe in white light and the power to talk to multiple colors while the keepers believe you are given one color to control and the white light is evil.

This concept was very interesting to me and added a twist to this historical story. I did have a few problems imagining the color powers, I wish there was more back story for this magic system and more detail about how it worked and affected the people of this town. I had a lot of questions about how it worked that just weren’t answered.

The plot was thick with betrayal, twists, and other worldly magic. It touched on the horrible racism in London in the 1600s and had religious undertones based on the history of Guy Fawkes. There were sections that flew by for me and had me reading nonstop and then there were sections that seemed to drag for quite a bit. The ending felt rushed and I wanted more detail like we were getting towards the beginning. The very end wasn’t my favorite but it added a good element to the story.

Overall I enjoyed this book. I gave it 4 stars. While I had some problems with the pacing of the book and some of the characters, the story line and Emma saved it for me. I learned a lot about London in the 1600s and the story of Guy Fawkes. I think if you like historical fiction you’ll enjoy Fawkes.

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