Smoke book cover

Dan Vyleta
Doubleday, 2016

448 pages (hardcover)

Buy: Amazon | Barnes & NobleBetter World Books
Borrow: Worldcat

Welcome to Victorian England unlike any other you have experienced before.  Here, wicked thoughts (both harmless and hate-filled) appear in the air as telltale wisps of Smoke.

Young Thomas Argyle, a son of aristocracy, has been sent to an elite boarding school.  Here he will be purged of Wickedness, for the wealthy do not Smoke.  When he resists a sadistic headboy’s temptations to Smoke, a much larger struggle beyond the school walls is revealed.  Shortly thereafter, on a trip to London, Thomas and his best friend witness events that make them begin to question everything they have been taught about Smoke.

And thus the adventure begins… You will travel by coach to a grand estate where secrets lurk in attic rooms and hidden laboratories; where young love blossoms; and where a tumultuous relationship between a mother and her children is the crucible in which powerful passions are kindled, and dangerous deeds must be snuffed out in a desperate race against time.

–Description from publisher

Smoke was not at all what I expected. It deals with smoke as a manifestation of sins both large and small. As a result, the book is quite dark and dreary.

Overall, I’m not one-hundred percent sure how I feel about this book. It’s certainly unique. Though I was left with questions, namely how and why did the world become this way? Answers to these questions were hinted at, and it’s admitted that it was a deliberate choice; however, it still feel like something was missing.

Finally, I feel I have to say, this is not at all like Harry Potter. I have a note for publishers: Just because it’s a fantasy title that starts off in a school doesn’t make it HP. The tone and feel are completely different and are just as important to readers.

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