Smoke is a gripping tale that bridges commercial, literary and genre fiction - a sweeping epic with the thrilling edge of The Secret History or The Passage and the magic of Philip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy or Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.
Smoke opens in a private boarding school near Oxford, but history has not followed the path known to us. In this other past, sin is a physical attribute, visible to all, and children are born carrying the seeds of evil within them. It is in this school, surrounded by the sons of the wealthy and well connected, that two boys called Thomas and Charlie discover that the world of smoke, soot and ash is not as it seems, for sin has a secret history and virtue a politics both intricate and murderous.
The two boys soon leave the confines of the school to enter into a struggle for the very soul of their nation. But will their own souls survive unscathed?
©2016 Dan Vyleta (P)2016 Penguin Random House
I really tried with this. I presume someone thought about the phrase 'fuming with anger', thought that would be a cool metaphor for sin, then read a lot of Dickens. It's written in a sort of Dickensian style, but this means a lot of passive voice and far far too much detail - people don't jus get up and leave, they rise and the rooms are left, with a passing reference to the wainscotting - until you're screaming 'oh do get on with it!' The main obsession with smoke and sin becomes quickly ridiculous - every one is twisted, everyone is dirty, it's all grim - and the three main characters are stunningly unsympathetic and dull. There is an attempt at steam punk sensibilities, but it was all lost in the smog for me. Not for me, though I imagine if it's your sort of thing, then it will keep you going till the end.
I thought the narrator really brought the story alive - he was excellent.
I liked the relationship between the 3 main characters and how much they supported each other through everything.
When Livia kisses them both right at the end.
Not really, although the bits with Mowgli were very sad.
This is one of those books that I think is even better to listen to than to read; the narration really brings it alive. Brilliant!
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.