Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

Our Score
Fawkes is a stand-alone YA historical fantasy. 

Synopsis

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 it. 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.

Pros

  • A fresh spin on history. As a homeschool parent, I could see assigning this story when studying this period of history and then challenging students to write a report comparing the story’s events against the historical record.
  • The author uses magic (color power) as an allegory to represent the different ways historical English religions (Catholic and Reformed Protestant) interacted with God. I love the way her character, Thomas, searches for truth and ultimately learns that God desires a relationship with us first and foremost.
  • I enjoyed the mystery behind the Stone Plague. It added more complexity to the plot and was a clever concept.

Cons

  • It took me a long time to warm up to the main character (Thomas Fawkes). I almost stopped reading the book because I didn’t like him or identify with him. That would have been a mistake, because I loved him by the end of the book. But be warned – it might take you a bit to like him too.

Final Word

Worth Reading.

Discussion Questions

 
  1. The Gunpowder Plot is a real historic event. Do a little research and see how the author changed the events to fit the story.
  2. Emma Areben and Guy Fawkes both refused to be seen without their masks, but both for different reasons. Have you ever wished you could hide behind a mask? Who do you allow to see the real you?
  3. The Igniters and Keepers had different views of the White Light. Which viewpoint was correct? Or was the answer somewhere in between?
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Lisa Godfrees
Lisa Godfrees is fascinated with creatures that don't exist, especially jackalopes. Cactus cats are a close second. When not searching for elusive mythological beasts, she types middle-grade and YA fantasy. Read her short stories for free at www.LisaGodfrees.com.

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