Book Reviews

Review: Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

I fell into Fawkes head first. It’s impossible not to. This historical fiction has a dashing hero, a strong female heroine, a generous helping of history, and the spice of magic. Yes, halfway through that turned into a recipe. A recipe for my heart.


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.


book review fawkes by nadine brandes(Disclaimer: I received this free book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

I knew basically nothing about the history of Guy Fawkes until this book. (That being said this is, in no ways, a history textbook. Just going to throw out that warning right here. But if this is what happened, it’d be so amazing – and would make more sense than some things in history do to me). I have, however, always been fascinated by the event – an assassination plot gone wrong? Count me in. And then you throw in magic and I’m sold. Who can I give my money to before I leave?

Anyway, I’m going to list why I loved this book (in the order I loved it. Ha! Fooled you there. I normally don’t say this. Jokes on you me – especially when I betray my past self).

  1. I adored the leading lady, the heroine, the masked companion that is Emma. She was all about empowerment. Not only was she strong, especially in a fight, but she was also honorable. Consistently, she’s telling Thomas what’s up. Spouting wisdom beyond her years, Emma is my hero. Too often, I’m thinking, ‘Why does no one just get everything out in the open?’ and that is Emma. My heart has been stolen by her.
  2. That being said, I really enjoyed Thomas. Yes he can kind of stick his foot in his mouth sometimes, but what I loved about him was his journey. Thomas has to learn and we are able to see, sense, hear, his wavering thoughts. He genuinely is confused, many times lost, and questioning the truth around him. We can see just how desperately he wants to believe, to have the answer, the truth, but cannot pin it down. Spoilers Thomas, the truth is an elusive beast.
  3. The magic is amazing here. Not only is the concept of color magic phenomenal. (TLDR: everyone has this affinity for a certain color and the magic associated with that color. So brown is like the earth for example), but even Brandes foils the ‘simple’, the ‘straightforward’ by making us, the readers, even question the magic system. Can I control burgundy magic please??
  4. The magic is combined with politics and social justice. There’s so much more to the magic and to the implications. You felt fully immersed in the world. In the way that you know a bit, don’t know a lot, and spend some time lost in the middle. But there’s so much, dare I say it, color to this world.

And those are the quick and dirty four reasons, ranked, about why I really loved Fawkes. (See past self, still kept to my word!) Check out Fawkes on Goodreads.


If you had color magic, what color would you bond with?

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