Part Harry Potter, part boarding school story, part sci-fi cautionary tale of science gone awry, part love triangle, part Brockmeier's The Illumination and Ruiz-Zafón's The Shadow of the Wind, Smoke is all delicious.
What if others could see your fear, your rage, your greed, your humiliation? What if they could smell it, taste it, read it? And not just the dark emotions, but also the flip side, the ones much closer to your heart: passion, lust, desire. The degree to which you emit visible smoke, indicates your status, class, morality, self. What would you do to hide it?
Such is the situation for Thomas, Livia, and Charlie. Bound together in a race to stop an upcoming catastrophe, somehow tangled up in smoke, these three leave no stone unturned on the path to save the city of London (and maybe the world).
A commentary on how we hide our true selves, and how we present our facade to the world, Smoke is a fascinating and gripping tale full of chases, puzzles, murders, kidnappings, escapes, and danger. Vyleta gives us a harrowing but gorgeous tale to savor, and scores major points by slipping in an unconventional, but perfect, ending. Bravo! Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
"Smoke is an addictive combination of thriller, fantasy, and historical novel, with a dash of horror. It’s chilling and complex and amazingly imaginative." Marilyn Dahl, Shelf Awareness
England. A century ago, give or take a few years.
An England where people who are wicked in thought or deed are marked by the Smoke that pours forth from their bodies, a sign of their fallen state. The aristocracy do not smoke, proof of their virtue and right to rule, while the lower classes are drenched in sin and soot. An England utterly strange and utterly real.
An elite boarding school where the sons of the wealthy are groomed to take power as their birthright. Teachers with mysterious ties to warring political factions at the highest levels of government. Three young people who learn everything they’ve been taught is a lie—knowledge that could cost them their lives. A grand estate where secrets lurk in attic rooms and hidden laboratories. A love triangle. A desperate chase. Revolutionaries and secret police. Religious fanatics and coldhearted scientists. Murder. A London filled with danger and wonder. A tortured relationship between a mother and a daughter, and a mother and a son. Unexpected villains and unexpected heroes. Cool reason versus passion. Rich versus poor. Right versus wrong, though which is which isn’t clear.
This is the world of Smoke, a narrative tour de force, a tale of Dickensian intricacy and ferocious imaginative power, richly atmospheric and intensely suspenseful.
"Dan Vyleta has conjured a rich and surprising counter-history, an England saturated with a substance so potent and evocative it vaults instantly into the pantheon that includes the Dust of Philip Pullman, the soma of George Orwell, and the opium of Amitavh Ghosh. Smoke is enthralling." Robin Sloan, bestselling author of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
"Smoke is one of the most original and enthralling books I have read in a long time. I was immediately sucked in and then mesmerized enough that I read it in a rush. I think the book is absolutely stunning. I’ve told so many people about it, I feel like I should carry a bag of galleys around with me to hand out. I’ve refined my elevator pitch to: 'Smoke is an addictive combination of thriller, fantasy, and historical novel, with a dash of horror. It’s chilling and complex and amazingly imaginative.'" Marilyn Dahl, Shelf Awareness
"Astonishing...It's filling in that gaping hole left by both Harry Potter and Philip Pullman's Northern Lights. Yes, really." Stylist
"Is it natural to think ‘bad’ thoughts, and if so, does that make it OK? Do people behave morally out of true goodness? Full of otherworldly adventure yet chilling in its realism, Smoke lures readers into considering these questions about society and ourselves." Booklist (Starred Review)
"[T]he novel's sumptuous, irresistible narrative—filled with plenty of twists and turns and imagination—will satisfy any reader. A terrific, suspenseful tale." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Dan Vyleta is the son of Czech refugees who emigrated to Germany in the late 1960s. He holds a Ph.D. in history from King's College, Cambridge. Vyleta is the author of three novels, Pavel & I, The Quiet Twin, which was shortlisted for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, and The Crooked Maid, which was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and won the J.I. Segal Award. An inveterate migrant, Vyleta has lived in Germany, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. He currently resides in Stratford-upon-Avon in England.
Dan Vyleta on PowellsBooks.Blog
We like origin tales. Creation myths. At the dawn of time — before there was time — there was nothing. Then: a bang, Big, we are told, yet infinitesimally small; a pinprick from which the universe unfolds. A word (the word!); then: light...