MAYBE ONE DAY by Debbie Johnson – Blog tour with Orion Fiction

It’s lovely to be on this blog tour, with thanks to Alainna Hadjigeorgiou for the invite. Please do have a read; this book comes highly recommended!

Book Blurb

What if you had the chance to find a lost love?

Jess still thinks about the man who disappeared from her life seventeen years ago, and the tragedy that tore them apart. So, when she discovers a hidden box of letters in her mother’s attic, Jess realises that the truth about why he walked away has been kept from her all this time.

Jess sets out to follow the faded postmarks across the country, determined that her journey will bring her closer to him. As each clue falls into place, Jess discovers new things about herself – and the man who once broke her heart. Maybe she can find him. Maybe their love story isn’t over.

Maybe one day, they will be together again…

My thoughts

Well, this book certainly hooked me in! I loved the story of Jess and her search for the truth as she uncovers hidden aspects of her past. This is the overall hook, as we follow her emotional journey to uncover the truth. After her mother’s funeral a hidden box is found, and inside are old letters for Jess from Joe, the father of her daughter, who Jess believes walked out of her life; these are particularly emotive moments as their story is revealed.

It’s a study of trauma, grief, lies, love and redemption. There is an awful tragedy at the core of this book, so it’s upsetting at times, but as we know, terribly sad events are the ‘way of the world’, and the important path to healing is handled beautifully. This is a book where friendships shine, and forgiveness is the way to healing and re-building.

Read this book if you’d like to go travelling with Jess to learn her story, and find out the truth about why Jess’s true love left her, and if she’ll ever get the chance to see him again: maybe one day is the question at the centre of this story. It comes highly recommended from me, a surprisingly addictive read.

The Author – Debbie Johnson

Debbie Johnson is an award-winning author who lives and works in Liverpool, where she divides her time between writing, caring for a small tribe of children and animals, and not doing the housework.

She writes feel-good emotional women’s fiction, and has sold more than 750,000 books worldwide. She is published in the USA, Canada, Australia, India, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey and the Ukraine. Her best-sellers include the Comfort Food Cafe series, Cold Feet at Christmas and The A-Z of Everything.

‘The Summer of Reckoning’ by Marion Brunet and published by Bitter Lemon Press #RandomThingsTours

It’s lovely to be a part of ‘The Summer of Reckoning’ blog tour today, I’m joining in with an extract from the novel, please scroll down for a taste of the writing and more information about this enticing story.

Book Blurb…

A psychological thriller set in the Luberon, a touristic French region that evokes holidays in magnificent pool-adorned villas. For those who live there year-round, it often means stifling poverty and boredom.

Two teenage sisters have grown up in a world where the main distractions are hatred of Arabs and booze. When Celine, 16, discovers she is pregnant and refuses to divulge her lover’s identity, her father embarks on a mission of revenge. A dark and upsetting account of an ailing society, filled with silent and murderous rage.

Brunet uses her tense and efficient novel to tell us a story of ‘people at sea, on a boat punctured just above the waterline, never far from a shipwreck’. No one describes better the poisonous claustrophobia of families trapped in small rural towns. She writes with a scalpel about couples, family, sexism, racism and poverty.

EXTRACT

Bitch

At home, Johanna remembers, a hand on the backside was friendly, like – a way of saying you had a nice one, meaning “You’ve got potential” – something between a caress and a slap on the rump of a mare. The girls held trump cards, like in a tarot game, and you could almost say that if they played them right, they’d win. Except that neither of them – not Jo and not her sister Céline – have ever won any game. But since they hadn’t drawn up the rules of the game, they were shafted whatever they did. Trump cards or bait, it was dead in the water before it even started.

For Céline, it’s not a hand on her backside tonight, but a slap across her face. Her father, furious, is almost choking on his anger. He doesn’t exactly have a wide range of vocabulary as it is, but this is worse. He turns his daughter’s face with his huge builder’s hand; she crashes down onto the kitchen floor – a heap of wet cloth. She makes an odd kind of sound, as though some bits of her have broken.

“Who is it?”

Céline couldn’t answer even if she wanted to. She tries to catch her breath. Her hair hangs straight over her face, so you can’t see her eyes or her mouth. Jo would like to help her but it’s as though her feet are screwed to the floor like a prison bed.

The kitchen smells of detergent and lavender, like an advert for the South of France, cicadas and all.

“Who’s the piece of shit that did this to you? Who’s the son of a bitch who dared?”

Their mother fills a glass with water. It slips out of her hand and rolls into the stainless-steel sink. She whispers Stop it, but without conviction. Actually, you don’t really know who she’s saying it to.

“Are you going to answer me or not?”

Then her father stops yelling. His chin starts to quiver and that’s even more threatening, so Jo looks away. Their mother crouches down, holding the glass of water, and lifts Céline’s face but with no tenderness. She’s never been shown any herself, after all. Just for a second, you wonder if she’s about to throw the water in her daughter’s face or help her drink it. Céline props herself up on the floor with one hand and clings to her mother with the other. The water spills and runs down her mother’s bare knee and she gets annoyed, pulls away, leaves the glass on the floor and stands back up with difficulty – a very old woman all of a sudden, though she always carries on as if she’s thirty. Céline lets go of her wrist and remains lying on her elbow. Her lip has swollen up and her nose looks crooked. Her father has never hit her so hard before. She takes the glass to drink from it but the water runs down the side, over her chin and onto her T-shirt that has a pink pattern with sequins around it, and there’s blood bubbling out of her right nostril. There’s a stabbing pain in her stomach, like a thousand darts.

Her father stands with his arms crossed, having regained his strength even in his body language, and challenges Céline with his glare. Her eyes are full of water, her cheeks hollow from gritting her teeth.

“She’s not going to tell,” her mother hisses. “The bitch isn’t going to tell us anything.”

Reading Wrap Up for March 2020 – and a whoops… I forgot to post my February reads!

Firstly, wishing everyone well in this pandemic!

Well, this is certainly a new lifestyle change to when I was writing my last monthly wrap-up. With the close of my businesses and the re-direction of thoughts, my reading certainly suffered.

So, only seven books this month. Here’s some snappy thoughts on last month’s books… oh and I’ve listed the books I read in February, I wrote a post and just saw it in my drafts – so decided it was a little late to post now – lol!

Are Snakes Necessary? by Brian De Palma (the famous film director) and Susan Lehman – a caricature Film Noir style thriller, a quick, fun & quirky read (check out my previous blog posts for more chat) 3.5/5

Tidelands by Philippa Gregory – set in England, in 1648 – so Civil War and a renegade King as the backdrop for a love story, throw in some witchcraft rumours and you have ‘Tidelands’. I didn’t realise this was the first book in a series, so wasn’t prepared for the abrupt ending. Started well, but I lost my way and I didn’t overly like the male lead. 3/5

A Thousand Moons by Sebastian Barry – beautifully written book, with such powerful imagery (second in a series) based on a young Lakota orphan adopted by former soldiers; it explores the aftermath of the Civil War in America. 4.5/5

Thorn by Intisar Khanani – nice YA fantasy read, based loosely on The Little Goose Girl fairy tale. A princess, an unwanted betrothal, and a malicious sorceress. I enjoyed it. 4/5 YA stars.

Maybe One Day by Debbie Johnson – Hidden letters and a long-overdue reunion form the basis of the plot. This was addictive fun, and I’ll be chatting in more detail later this week as part of the blog tour. 4/5

The Library of the Unwritten (Hell’s Library 1) by A.J. Hackwith – the first book in a new fantasy series based in Hell’s library – a real bibliophile’s book, as book characters come to life, and characters battle to save libraries! I had fun reading this, and will definitely look out for book 2. 4.5

The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller – another YA fantasy read with a feisty anti-hero lead and a tormented Shadow King. Great escapism and fun. 4/5

Many thanks to the publishers: Titan Books, Hot Key Books and Orion for sending me books to chat about!

February Booksspeedy chat!

Firstly, a movie serialisation, which is a new format for me. This was ‘Bloodshot’ which comes out this month and stars Vin Diesel. (see earlier blog post for more chat)

Death Deserved by Jorn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger (see blog tour post)

The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue. A mystery with a mixed time-frame based on themes of obsession, jealousy and power-play. I liked this.

The Aosawa Murders by Riku Onda – a clever, puzzle of a novel (see blog tour post for further chat)

Beast by Matt Wesolowski – see blog tour post for more chat, but I loved it.

The Harlech Beach Killings by Simon McCleave – stronger than book one in his DI Ruth Hunter series set in Snowdonia.

The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne – fun YA romance based on misconceptions and set in space. Based on Austen’s ‘Persuasion’.

The Woman Downstairs by Elizabeth Carpenter – see blog tour post for more chat, and I really enjoyed this mystery thriller.

The Sisters Grimm by Menna van Praag – I struggled a bit with the slow pacing. It’s the first in a series.

Never Look Back by Alison Gaylin – based around a podcast and the investigation of a series of 1970s murders. I liked it.

‘Are Snakes Necessary?’ by Brian De Palma and Susan Lehman.

A huge thanks to @TitanBooks and @HardCaseCrime for sending me a copy to read and chat about. For those that don’t know who Brian De Palma is, he’s the world-famous director of more than 30 films! These include ‘Carrie’, ‘Scarface’, ‘The Untouchables’ and the original ‘Mission: Impossible.’ He is considered to be one of the most accomplished filmmakers of the last fifty-years, a peer to Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, and Martin Scorsese.

Susan Lehman is a former editor of the New York Times and author whose writing has appeared in the Washington Post, The Atlantic Monthly, Vogue, The New Yorker, and Spy magazine. An attorney by training, she also served as communications director at the Brennan Center for Justice.

‘Are Snakes Necessary?’ is their first novel.

Hard Case Crime ‘brings you the best in hard-boiled crime fiction, from lost pulp classics to new work by today’s most powerful writers.’

The Blurb

When the beautiful young videographer offered to join his campaign, Senator Lee Rogers should’ve known better. But saying no would have taken a stronger man than Rogers, with his ailing wife and his robust libido. Enter Barton Brock, the senator’s fixer. He’s already gotten rid of one troublesome young woman – how hard could this new one turn out to be?

Pursued from Washington D.C. to the streets of Paris, 18 year-old Fanny Cours knows her reputation and budding career are on the line. But what she doesn’t realise is that her life might be as well…

My thoughts

I was genuinely excited to receive a copy of ‘Are Snakes Necessary?’, particularly with a recommendation from Martin Scorsese on the cover (lots of Scorsese fans in my house). We’re a film watching household, and my daughter is studying film for A’Level, so there’s lots of talk of directors, and in particular auteurs. This made a new Hard Case Crime read co-written by Brian De Palma something to look forward to.

Firstly, I read a lot, so I had to adjust myself to the narrative style of this book – it’s very tell and not show. This inevitably leads to surface level characterisations, or types. It that sense, I often felt the book was a little like a ‘pitch’ at times. The characters are introduced, justified and then pulled along as plot devices, rather than being developed. They have ‘through-lines’ but they all seems subservient to the action and plot structure. But with the style of this book, it seems to work.

I found it generally fun, and like the sub-plots feeding the main narrative; the link to Hitchcock’s ‘Vertigo’ (and other film references) was great, and really was full on towards the end. It absolutely reads like a film, I did find it a little unbalanced at times, and much preferred the last 40% of the story – but it is really readable.

It’s a thriller; a dark comedy; a cynicism of human nature, with an intense murder plot orchestrated by a cast of Film Noir-fed caricatures. I think it’s a fitting addition to the Hard Case Crime collection.

‘Thorn’ by Intisar Khanani, published by Hot Key Books – a mini review.

For every girl who has ever doubted she has what it takes…

Mini ReviewYA Fantasy novel

My thoughts…

‘Thorn’ by Intisar Khanani is a really lovely fairy-tale retelling, linked to ‘The Little Goose Girl’ tale.
The story centres around Princess Alyrra who had a difficult, restrictive and abusive (brother physical and mother emotional) upbringing. Her journey only becomes more desperate when she is betrothed to a stranger from another land. Magic and power becomes a dominant theme when a powerful sorceress strips Alyrra’s identity. I loved how she takes advantage of this to start her life afresh, and by living a more simple life finds genuine friendship, and an understanding of who she wants to be.
The theme of responsibility, betrayal and justice are explored as Alyrra is drawn into a fight to save the Kingdom, and of the troubled Prince that is slowly capturing her heart.

The romance is a sweet one; the pace is steady, it does hold your attention throughout. A YA fantasy read that comes recommended from me: charming, creative and inspiring, a wonderful jump back into the fairy tales of your childhood.

‘Deep State’ by Chris Hauty, published by Simon & Schuster #RandomThingsTours

I’m delighted to share an extract from ‘Deep State’ as part of the #RandomThingsTour for this debut thriller by Chris Hauty. With thanks to Simon & Schuster, and Anne for the invite. I’m looking forward to reading ‘Deep State’ and chatting about it soon.

THE DEEP STATE – noun
A covert state hidden within a government;
a secret organisation of high-level operatives;
exerts control through manipulation and a culture of pain and fear.

Who can you trust?

About the book

Hayley Chill isn’t your typical West Wing intern. Ex-military and as patriotic as she is principled, she is largely vilified by her peers and lauded by her superiors – it’s a quick way of making enemies. It is Hayley who finds the body of the White House chief of staff, Peter Hall, on his kitchen floor having died from an apparent heart attack. It is also Hayley who notices a single clue which suggests his death was deliberate, targeted. That he was assassinated.
Unsure who to trust, Hayley works alone to uncover a wideranging conspiracy that controls the furthest reaches of the government. And Hall is just the beginning – the president is the next target.
Hayley must now do the impossible: stop an assassination, when she has no idea who the enemy is, all while staying hidden, with Peter’s final words to her ringing in her ears: Trust no one. Because the Deep State will kill to silence her. And they are closing in.

It is entrenched.
It is hidden.
It is deadly.
Who can you trust?

EXTRACT from the PROLOGUE of the novel

She can remember every fight. Whether childhood brawls back home in Green Shoals, West Virginia, or organised bouts as an amateur fighter since enlisting in the army, physical combat is the fierce memoir of a hardscrabble life. The oldest of six children—her single mother laid low by multiple cancers—Hayley defended herself and her five siblings with savage determination.

Losing her first four fights, she absorbed hard lessons with each defeat. Eight victories followed those early routs, a dozen fights in total before graduating first in her class from high school. Hayley has fought as many times as an army boxer and remains undefeated.

Tonight, she defends her regimental title.

After thirty minutes of steady jogging, her muscles have become elastic beneath a sweat- drenched T- shirt and shorts. Her thoughts are as measured and orderly as her heart rate. Barely winded, Hayley stops and checks the time on a Citizen Eco- Drive Nighthawk Black Dial watch she took off an army pilot who challenged her to a barroom arm- wrestling match. At her feet is the loose stone and gravel of the construction site for a new PX. Hayley bends down and picks up one of the jagged rocks, clenching her fist tightly around it. The stone’s sharp edges send jolts of pain through her body, acute and clarifying. She maintains the intensity of this clench for ten seconds, then twenty more. Finally, Hayley takes a deep breath and drops the stone to the ground. Studying the palm of her hand with clinical detachment, she sees blood seeping from multiple quarter- inch lacerations. There is nothing to fear. Blood has been drawn. Now she can fight.

The Author – Chris Hauty

Chris Hauty is a screenwriter who has worked at all the major movie studios, in nearly every genre of film. He currently lives in Venice, California, in the company of a classic Triumph motorcycle and a feral cat. Deep State is his first novel.

Random Things Blog Tour List

‘Bloodshot’ – the official movie novelisation by Gavin Smith, published by Titan Books.

BEING A HERO IS IN HIS BLOOD.

After he and his wife are murdered, Marine Ray Garrison is resurrected by a secret team of scientists. Enhanced with nanotechnology, he becomes a superhuman, biotech killing machine – “Bloodshot” – without any memory of his previous life.

But some things can’t stay buried, and Ray refuses to back down when his memories begin to surface. Haunted by the face of his family’s killer, he will stop at nothing to take his revenge. And discovers a conspiracy going deeper than he could have possibly imagined…

My thoughts…

I love watching movies, not as much as I love reading, but it’s a favourite pastime, so when Titan Books released a movie novelisation for Bloodshot, I was intrigued. I do enjoy an action film, evident from the fact I’ve recently bought a John McClane Funko Pop for the top of our Christmas Tree – lol! I also loved the 1980s Cult Sci-fi film ‘Robocop’, and the premise of this movie seemed similar, on the surface. However, there’s more of a sinister depth to the technology that resurrects Bloodshot.

This novel is exactly as you expect it to be, pretty much non-stop action, battles, conflict, bloodshed, trauma and surface level relationships. It’s a short read and I enjoyed it, it certainly plays like a movie in your head as you turn the pages. The ‘hero’ is a fascinating construct, and whose embedded nanotechnology enables him to reconstruct himself in battle (watch the trailer for how dramatic this is). The other biotech soldiers are creative and perfect for this kind of action fest! One of them is played by Outlander’s Sam Heughan, so a bit of eye-candy for the ladies! (But sadly his character is nothing like Jamie Fraser) I think this was a really well-written movie novelisation, there’s enough depth to satisfy readers, and to add detail to the watching of the movie. There’s also a bonus short story at the end called ‘Into the Fire’ and features one of Bloodshot’s female characters.

A high octane read, that drives you through the pages into the deadly and dramatic climax – it’s certainly entertaining and recommended for those who enjoy action movies and of course the original comic book character.

The Movie

This book is from the hotly anticipated action movie, Bloodshot, based on the bestselling Valiant comic series and starring Vin Diesel, Guy Pearce, Sam Heughan, and Eiza Gonzalez, and directed by Dave Wilson.

Sony Pictures’ Bloodshot is scheduled to rollout worldwide beginning February 2020 and is scheduled to hit North American cinemas on March 13, 2020. Based on the bestselling comic book, the film stars Vin Diesel as Ray Garrison, a soldier recently killed in action and brought back to life as the superhero Bloodshot by the RST corporation. With an army of nanotechnology in his veins, he’s an unstoppable force – stronger than ever and able to heal instantly. But in controlling his body, the company has sway over his mind and memories, too. Now, Ray doesn’t know what’s real and what’s not – but he’s on a mission to find out.

Trailer link above

Guest Post for ‘The Golden Key’ by Marian Womack @titanbooks – WELCOME!

I’m really happy to be hosting a ‘Guest Post’ today from Marian Womack, author of the fabulous ‘The Golden Key‘ and published by one of my favourite publishing houses, Titan Books, on 18th February 2020. Marian Womack is writing about the real life inspirations behind the characters in her novel – scroll down to read.

The book blurb:

After the death of Queen Victoria, England heaves with the uncanny. Séances are held and the dead are called upon from darker realms.
Helena Walton-Cisneros, known for her ability to find the lost and the displaced, is hired by the elusive Lady Matthews to solve a twenty-year-old mystery: the disappearance of her three stepdaughters who vanished without a trace on the Norfolk Fens.

But the Fens are an age-old land, where folk tales and dark magic still linger. The locals speak of devilmen and catatonic children are found on the Broads. Here, Helena finds what she was sent for, as the Fenland always gives up its secrets, in the end…

GUEST POST

The Golden Key – Real Life Inspirations

by Marian Womack

My new novel, The Golden Key, is a work of fiction. Its protagonist, the detective Helena Walton-Cisneros, came to me gradually, over the course of many years. I wanted to explore a world in which things are not what they seem, in which women are forced to perform a role in society, at times hiding their real abilities. I soon realized that, in order to make this world more plausible, it would help if I populated it with real-life people and events. Luckily, my research for the novel helped a lot, as it uncovered many interesting people and events that spoke so much of the epoch, of the trials women feared and the tribulations they faced, that it was no problem to pick a few and include them in the book. These real-life inspirations, both people and places, include the following:

George MacDonald: I have always loved fairy-tales. The first short stories that I ever wrote were fairy-tale retellings, as dark and strange and unnerving as I could manage. I have a large collection of fairy-tale books from around the world, covering many cultures and epochs. I am not an expert, though, and my knowledge of the vast Victorian fairy-tale corpus was patchy, composed of what had found its way to my hands via second hand bookshops. I was introduced to George MacDonald’s work as an adult, and it shook my entire conception of what “a story in the fairy-fashion” should be. I became obsessed with MacDonald. He seemed to speak to my deeper concerns as a writer: the unavoidable sense of indeterminacy of his tales, of porous borders surrounding us, between the real and the unreal. I think it is fair to call MacDonald a true weird-fiction fairy-tale writer. His world found its way into my novel, partly because I could not write about worlds that mixed together without recognising a huge debt to him.

Peter Henry Emerson: I thought I had seen Norfolk, I thought that I knew Norfolk. Then I was introduced to the work of the early photographer, Peter Henry Emerson. The eeriness of his Norfolk images helped redefine the “feeling” of the entire novel. Here was a pictorial representation of everything I had felt about the place since I first set foot on it in 2002-2003: a haunting, ghostly feeling about the Fens and the Broads; a sense of more things, hidden, happening beyond the frames of the pictures. Even in his more “normal” rural scenes, one has the sense of looking upon another realm, a sort of parallel world. True, he did not own a camera until 1881, so it is a stretch to think that he might have photographed the hunting weekend for the Matthews family, but a writer has to imagine, after all, and my active imagination placed him firmly in the middle of the events.

Eunice Foote: Foote is perhaps the most important real character mentioned in the novel. An American physicist, she was the first person to establish a connection between the proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and what we now identify as climate change. However, she has been swallowed by history, and now it is John Tyndall whom everyone associates with this scientific discovery.

https://titanbooks.com/

Blog Tour: ‘Death Deserved’ by Jorn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger (translated by Anne Bruce)

Huge thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for the blog tour invite!

Police officer Alexander Blix and celebrity blogger Emma Ramm join forces to track down a serial killer with a thirst for attention and high profile murders, in the first episode of a gripping new Nordic Noir series…

The Book Blurb

Oslo, 2018. Former long-distance runner Sonja Nordstrøm never shows at
the launch of her controversial autobiography, Always Number One. When
celebrity blogger Emma Ramm visits Nordstrøm’s home later that day, she
finds the door unlocked and signs of a struggle inside. A bib with the
number ‘one’ has been pinned to the TV.
Police officer Alexander Blix is appointed to head up the missing-persons
investigation, but he still bears the emotional scars of a hostage situation
nineteen years earlier, when he killed the father of a five-year-old girl.
Traces of Nordstrøm soon show up at different locations, but the
appearance of the clues appear to be carefully calculated … evidence of a
bigger picture that he’s just not seeing…
Blix and Ramm soon join forces, determined to find and stop a merciless
killer with a flare for the dramatic, and thirst for attention.
Trouble is, he’s just got his first taste of it…

My thoughts…

I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Death Deserved’, the first book in the Blix and Ramm crime series, and steeped in Nordic Noir. I’ve read a few books recently that link the blogging world into the crime genre, but this brings something fresh to the table. It’s smart, intricately plotted and boosted by several moments of high tension. I really liked the characters of both Blix and Ramm, and look forward to reading more of the series. Both characters have vulnerabilities that create some fascinating depth and their developing relationship is unusual, so I’m curious to see where this may lead.

The serial killer in this book certainly has a flair for the dramatic, which is great for us readers! I loved trailing the crime scenes and attempting to work out who was behind it all. A challenging puzzle!

All in all, this book’s great. I didn’t want to put it down and would highly recommend it to crime novel fans. It’s smart, expertly paced, fuelled by tension and blooming fun to read!

Highly recommended.

The Authors

Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger are the internationally bestselling
Norwegian authors of the William Wisting and Henning Juul series
respectively.

Jorn Lier Horst

Jørn Lier Horst first rose to literary fame with his No. 1
internationally bestselling William Wisting series. A former investigator in
the Norwegian police, Horst imbues all his works with an unparalleled
realism and suspense.

Thonas Enger

Thomas Enger is the journalist-turned-author behind
the internationally acclaimed and bestselling Henning Juul series. Enger’s
trademark has become a darkly gritty voice paired with key social
messages and tight plotting. Besides writing fiction for both adults and
young adults, Enger also works as a music composer. Death Deserved is
Jørn Lier Horst & Thomas Enger’s first co-written thriller.

PUBLISHED BY ORENDA BOOKS http://orendabooks.co.uk/

Blog Tour for ‘SOOT’ @danvyleta and published by @orionbooks #CompulsiveReaders

Wishing ‘Soot’ every success on its blog tour and with the publication. I’m really pleased to be contributing today with some content into the characters of the novel, and the world they inhabit. With thanks! Check out the tour list below for other fabulous contributions from the book loving community.

Book Blurb

Welcome to a world where every desire is visible, rising from the body as a plume of Smoke. A world where bodies speak to one another and infect each other with desire, anger, greed. It is 1909 and this world stands on a precipice – some celebrate this constant whisper of skin to skin, and some seek to silence it forever.

Enter Eleanor, a young woman with a strange power over Smoke and niece of the Lord Protector of England. Running from her uncle and home, she finds shelter in a New York theatre troupe.

Then Nil, a thief hiding behind a self-effacing name. He’s an orphan snatched from a jungle-home and suspects that a clue to his origins may lie hidden in the vaults of the mighty, newly-risen East India Company.

And finally Thomas, one of the three people to release Smoke into the world. On a clandestine mission to India, he hopes to uncover the origins of Smoke and lay to rest his doubts about what he helped to unleash.

In a story that crosses continents – from India to England’s Minetowns – these three seek to control the power of Smoke. As their destinies entwine, a cataclysmic confrontation looms: the Smoke will either bind them together or forever rend the world.

I. The Story


Imagine a symphony made up of distinct themes and melodies.
It starts with a young woman, Eleanor, afraid that the long reach of her uncle will at last discover her in her Canadian exile and summon her home. She has a ‘talent’—a special relationship to the Smoke—that she fears others will want to put to use. Then she meets a playwright, a master of the new art of Smoke Theatre, and he offers her shelter within his troupe.
Then there is Nil—No-One, Nothing—a thief and confidence man, getting by on his wits. His latest mark is the New York City branch of the mighty East India Company, a trading corporation that controls the Indian Raj and is one of the dominant economic powers in this world after the ‘Second Smoke’, for they hold a monopoly on the only substance that can supress the Smoke. Nil is an orphan who does not know where he was stolen from when still a young child. He suspects that somewhere in the Company vaults slumbers the truth of who he is.
And then there is Thomas, hero of Smoke, who has travelled to India to learn what really happened in the revolution he helped to start ten years ago. He meets the Singhs, a local couple who themselves are revolutionaries of sorts, dreaming of freedom from Company rule. Will what Thomas finds lay to rest his guilt and doubts about what he helped to unleash?
These three melodies soon begin to intertwine, tying together events in North American and on the Indian subcontinent, and leading back to Britain, that sundered, Gale-haunted ‘Isle of the Smoke’, where the Smoke-affirming North of Minetowns and the Smoke-denying South under the stewardship of its Lord Protector are fighting over the country’s future.

About Dan Vyleta

Dan Vyleta is the author of four previous novels: Pavel & I, which gathered international acclaim and was translated into eight languages, The Quiet Twin, which was shortlisted for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, The Crooked Maid, which was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and winner of the J.L. Segal Award, and the critically-acclaimed Smoke.

His is the son of Czech refugees who emigrated to Germany in the late 1960s. After growing up in Germany, Dan left to attend university in the US, where he completed a PhD in History at King’s College, London.

He lives in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Praise for Dan Vyleta

‘For once both comparisons (with Harry Potter and Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights) are apt . . . this is a novel that stays in the imagination long after it has been read’

  • The Guardian

‘It’s detailed, multi-layered and feels authentic – and might just win over historical fiction fans too’

  • The Pool

‘Mr. Vyleta writes with intricacy and imagination and skillful pacing’

  • New York Times

‘Vice is made visual in Vyleta’s sprawling, ambitious novel, a Dickensian tale tinged with fantasy’

  • Entertainment Weekly

‘One of the most original and enthralling books I have read in a long time.’

  • Shelf Awareness