Author: Nadine Brandes
Genre: Historical Fiction/ Mystery/ Fantasy
Favourite Quote: “I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but it had not been to see her sitting in a cushioned upright chair in the middle of the garden, wearing a fur cloak with an easel before her. I slowed and stepped off the loud gravel path. Her hood kept me from view, so I took my time approaching. Her right hand hung suspended in the air, a pallet of paint resting in her left. The different colours of paint floated in the air, like rainbow snowflakes waltzing with the wind – three shades of blue and grey and green… The paint drops aligned themselves on the canvas, then spread as though pushed by a brush. But Emma did not hold a brush. She didn’t even whisper instruction. Only little sentences came forth as though she and the colours were friends.”
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley.*
Thomas Fawkes has been living under his father’s reputation for too long, now it’s time to make a name for himself as his own man. When the time comes for Thomas to prove himself and claim his mask for his Colour Test, his father, Guy Fawkes, is no where to be seen. Without a mask made by his father, Thomas cannot continue with his studies and so is expelled from St. Peter’s school. With nothing left, he has no choice but to travel to London to find and confront his father.
On top of it all, for the past year, Thomas has kept it secret that he’s plagued. Luckily the stone plague in his eye has been dormant and is easy to hid under his eye patch. Thomas believes that the colour magic can heal him once and for all which is why he’s determined to get his colour mask. If he can control grey, he can control the stone plague.
When Thomas finally discovers his father, he’s thrown into a dangerous plot that will change the world around them forever. If he is to prove to his father he’s capable of bearing the responsibility of a colour mask, he needs to put his trust in his father and the other men in the plot that Keepers are on the right side of the war.
‘Keepers were loyal to one colour, and had been for thousands of years. Whereas Igniters wanted to control all colours. Igniters broke the laws of colour magic to bind with multiple colours. Apparently monarchs loved power, because both Queen Elizabeth and King James were Igniters. Consequently all Keepers were exiled, hunted, and executed for “resisting progress”‘
I wasn’t sure what to expect with Fawkes, but the perspective of Guy Fawkes’s son was something I was definitely intrigued by. I was not, however, expecting the colour magic aspect with masks, which was an interesting concept.
It took me a while to get my head around the colour abilities and what ‘white light’ was because there wasn’t enough examples at first to understand what it was all about, only brief mentions of it;
‘A masked man in a white shirt with a russet doublet and jerkin refilled the men’s ale and stoked the fire… all with colour speech. His mask was composed of plaited brown cords, but I knew he was an Igniter because he controlled two colours at once. The ale pitcher hovered in the air, pouring its contents into the empty tankards, while his hands served chunks of bread.’
Thomas is determined to control grey so he can get rid of his stone plague forever. People all around him can hide behind a mask and are able to control colours which is frustrating for Thomas as he believes that he’s got more of a reason to hide his face than others and there is nothing he can do about it. It’s completely understandable why he reacts the way he does in most situations. He’s conflicted with wanting the power to remove the plague from himself and doing what’s right with his father’s intentions. It’s annoying that his father just refuses to make the mask when he knows how important it is. He’s a hypocrite testing Thomas for loyalty to the plot but is keeping him helpless. I didn’t expect to dislike Guy Fawkes so much in this book, the fact that he left Thomas alone in the world when he discovered he had the plague and tried walking away from the pain rather than be there for his son. Even when you discover the reasons why his abandonment, you still can’t help but hate him a little.
‘I spun from the window. “Our paths are not so dissimilar?” I sneered. “I am plagued and maskless. Tell me, can you relate to those?” I gestured to his stoic black mask. “Try taking that off for a day. See how it changes you.”
Father straightened. “A man’s mask is his honour. His identity.”
“Your mask is your pride.”‘
Thomas just wants the plague gone to find a place in the world as his own person without being treated differently. We discover that the stone plague is a curse that started many years ago when the war between the Igniters and Keepers began. In most cases it’s contagious so many people are afraid of it but for the lucky few, like Thomas, the plague can remain dormant which bides them time.
When Thomas finds his father, he needs to decide on which path to take. The war between the Keepers and the Igniters is getting worse and something must be done to avoid more innocent people from being killed. Thomas is sure he’s on the Keeper side, after all, he only wishes to speak to grey and have a grey mask. But when white light starts talking to him and proves to be trustworthy when Thomas needs help, he realises that white light isn’t the problem after all.
My favourite character was definitely Emma, a strong Igniter who hides her own secrets behind a mask. When Thomas discovers Emma in danger, he attempts to rescue her only to quickly realise that she is more than capable of taking care of herself. With her ability to control a lot of colours, she is a force to be reckoned with, however she would much prefer to use her ability to create beautiful paintings that capture the emotion of her subject. Blackmailed by a wealthy family, from the outsider’s perspective she could want for nothing, but she is trapped in a secret that will ruin any chance of freedom and prospects of an artist apprentice. Even though Thomas and Emma are on the wrong side of the war, they learn more from each other than anywhere else. Thomas shows Emma the real arrogance of the war whilst Emma show’s Thomas that white light can change his world for the better.
I really enjoyed this story, it had a great storyline, well written characters, unique fantasy colour magic and a bit of romance.
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.