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Thomas Fawkes wants more than anything to be given his mask so he can bond with a color and finish his last year at St. Peter’s Color School. But the only person who can give him that mask is his father, Guy Fawkes, and he doesn’t show up. Worse, Thomas is infected with the stone plague and believes the only way to cure it is through color power, but he can’t attempt it until he gets his mask. So, he goes on a mission to find his father, and in the process gets swept up in monumental events, war, love, betrayal, truth, and understanding, and his life is changed forever.
You know how some books make you forget you need to eat and sleep? Well, this is one of those.
I know a book is good when I can’t stop thinking about it, when it takes on a life of its own inside my head. This book is robust fiction, and the tough issues that come up in the course of the story are issues we still face today. The issues are handled in a hopeful and honest way, and I loved that the book made me think, and think deeply, while also being entertained.
Everything about the book is perfect. Every element—foreshadowing, story twists, character growth, witty writing, and satisfying ending—they’re all there. The setting of early 17th-Century England is fascinating, and a lot of the history is true. The fantasy element blends smoothly with the history.
The story was one wild ride, and I loved it! It was unpredictable, and I had fun trying to guess what new developments and plot twists meant and what was going to happen and who the bad guy was. Many times the story had me on the edge of my seat. Not many books make me feel the depths of emotion that this one did. Often I was absolutely terrified for the characters.
The characters are each distinct and fascinating. The internal journey Thomas goes on is genuine and organic as he explores his world and searches for truth. Thomas starts out so sure of what he wants and what’s right in the world but then begins to question everything. By the end, there were no easy answers, and what answers he did find came at a cost.
I loved the writing style which was fresh and full of life, sometimes funny, sometimes insightful, always creative. I didn’t notice a single cliche. The difficult subjects and circumstances that come up are handled masterfully by the author.
The writing was never awkward or obvious but instead maintained a wonderful subtlety which made the reading of it a puzzle and an adventure. It fired up my imagination and I enjoyed deciphering and analyzing the meaning behind situations and also what characters were really feeling and thinking beyond what they chose to share. Because of its depth, this book is in every good way like a classic.
This is a book that changed me because it made me think about things in a new way. It made me ask myself thoughtful questions and made me look at history in a new light, but also helped me see our own time in a new way. The themes of truth, hope, freedom, and seeing beyond stereotypes are compelling and complex and exciting.
I knew right away I’d give this book four stars, but gradually as the book went along, it grew better and better and I knew I’d give it five stars. It’s a new favorite of mine. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I think you will, too, especially if you like the genres of historical fiction and/or fantasy.
I recommend this to:
- Readers of historical fiction
- Readers of fantasy
• I wasn’t ready to turn to stone. (first line)
• Those with color powers all shared an understanding and a unity.
• “Curiosity causes us to seek truth. I can’t fault you for that.”
• Be bold now or be guilty forever.
• “It is those who dream of the impossible who end up defying the very word.”
• All madness would break free over the next several days. I wasn’t ready. But perhaps bravery meant entering into a storm you already knew would destroy you.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
What are your favorite historical and/or fantasy novels? Let me know in the comments!