Fantasy · Historical · YA

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

What.a.read! This is one of those books that you stay up all night reading.

Thomas Fawkes has a problem: he’s turning to stone from the Stone Plague that infected his eye. If he doesn’t do something about it, he will turn into a statue. When a solution presents itself, it might be the craziest plot he’s ever seen. He is to join his father in a plot to assassinate the king of England, the Gunpowder plot. The plan is to use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow him up. The problem is that by doing so, he will kill the family of the woman he loves, but if he backs away, both his father and his followers end up on the gallows. Which side will he choose and which one can he live with?

Absolutely brilliant! I stayed up until dawn reading this one, between the action and the heart-stopping moments, I couldn’t put it down!

The plot is great, complex, very well developed and packed with action. The premise of the book is the Gunpowder plot, a true event that took place in England in early 1600s where a group of Catholic traitors plan to assassinate the Protestant king. If you don’t know anything about this particular event, I suggest you only research after you read the book. Discovering it through the eyes of Nadine Brandes, who mixes history with fantasy and fiction, is absolutely worth it. Plus, it keeps the suspense until the end of the story. The pace starts by being very fast, then it slows down a bit in the middle and then it’s just full speed ahead. It gives the reader enough space to breathe and process the past occurrences without breaking out of the story itself.

The characters are the story in this case. It’s like they completely ran out of the author’s control and have a life of their own, they are the plot and the plot revolves around them. They rule the plot, but the plot doesn’t control them. Weird, I know!
Thomas Fawkes, the main male lead, isn’t a very likeable character for me and in the end, I couldn’t completely connect with him. He does bring some spice to the story and I do believe he has a strong character and inner strength; he just needs to grow up a bit more. I felt like he complained a lot during the novel. Even though he has some reasons to, he sounded like a whiny kid. Plus, I couldn’t keep up with his actions and decisions, some of them were incomprehensible to me.
On the other hand, Guy Hawkes is something else entirely. He’s a complex, unpredictable and mysterious type of character. I actually re-read most of the scenes with him. Guy is guided by his sense of bringing justice to the Catholics being prosecuted by the Protestant church. He’s moved by his strong morals and values and in the end, it makes him a memorable character. The main female character is awesome and she reveals herself an important piece of the game. She’s one of the reasons I go so attached to the novel. I cannot go into more details of the characters without spoiling the story, so I will let you discover more of them on your own!

The style of writing is compelling, clean and uses the vocabulary of the 1600s perfectly. Brandes does an amazing job with the descriptions, it’s like you can see a picture of the places and the people. Masterfully done!

Fawkes is a fun read, mixing fiction and history perfectly while keeping a great level of action and suspense throughout the story. I recommend it to the fans of historical fiction with a twist and for those you enjoy the setting in 17th-century London. I can tell you, my friends, the trip to this world is totally worth it!

Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Thomas Nelson and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.

4 Stars

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