Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

Book Blurb:

Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England.

Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared, but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death.

But what if death finds him first?

Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in.

The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King.

The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other.

No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back.

I read this book of my own accord. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.


This was a surprising book for so many reasons. I’ll start with the historical fiction mixed with fantasy. Brandes did a phenomenal job mixing the two, and I was completely shocked at the end when I read about just how much of the story actually took place. The amount of research that had to go into this book is incredible. And then the plot line — I literally had no idea what to expect from the beginning to the end, and it was so refreshing. A lot of times YA fantasy can be a bit cliche or predictable, and this was the exact opposite. I was kept on my toes the entire time. On top of all of this was the world of color powers and the characters that possessed them. I would have never imagined that one of my favorite characters would be a color with a sassy personality, but here we are. The actual people were great too. 🙂

Moving on to the writing style, I was really surprised how not distinctly feminine it was. In my experience, a lot of the books written my females appeal to females, and the books written by males appeal to males, but Brandes did a phenomenal job of appealing to both. There is only one character who is a female, the plot is full of action and adventure, and even the romance was super sweet but not mushy at all. Everything is clean, and so overall she created a book that is enjoyable for everyone to read instead of just a specific audience. This would be a great read-aloud!

Finally, the messaging in this book was incredible. The best books to me are the ones where a powerful message is shared, but without being obvious or preachy. Fawkes contained several needed messages about racism and prejudice in society, but did it so subtly that it felt effortless, which made them all the more powerful. There was also a super subtle Christian allegory, which was really interesting, but definitely made me think to connect all of the dots.

Overall, this turned out to be one of my best impulse book buys!

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