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The second installment in the Marion Lane mysteries series.
The envelope was tied with three delicate silk ribbons: “One of the new recruits is not to be trusted…”
It’s 1959 and a new killer haunts the streets of London, having baffled Scotland Yard. The newspapers call him The Florist because of the rose he brands on his victims. The police have turned yet again to the Inquirers at Miss Brickett’s for assistance, and second year Marion Lane is assigned the case.
But she’s already dealing with a mystery of her own, having received an unsigned letter warning her that one of the three new recruits should not be trusted. She dismisses the letter at first, focusing on The Florist case, but her informer seems to be one step ahead, predicting what will happen before it does. But when a fellow second-year Inquirer is murdered, Marion takes matters into her own hands and must come face-to-face with her informer-who predicted the murder-to find out everything they know. Until then, no one at Miss Brickett’s is safe and everyone is a suspect.
With brilliant twists and endless suspense, all set within the dazzling walls and hidden passageways of Miss Brickett’s, Marion Lane and the Deadly Rose is a deliciously fun new historical mystery you won’t be able to put down.
This was my first outing with Marion Lane – I’m not sure how I missed the debut of the series, ‘Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder’, but I’ve definitely got it on my future reading list after the fantastic sleuthing adventure of ‘Marion Lane and the Deadly Rose’.
Firstly, a fantastic cover design lures you to the blurb, which promises the thrilling hunt for The Florist – a new killer at large in Lane’s 1959 historical/steampunk crime world. London is the setting and Lane is assigned the case via Miss Brickett’s Inquiry Agency.
I absolutely love the vibe of the setting, the drama – both plotting and relationships. It’s such a fun read, a mystery that keeps you guessing with a vibrant protagonist to really hook yourself to.
I’d certainly recommend this book for those readers looking for a zesty murder mystery. It’s layered, cosy and twisty – perfect escapism and jolly good fun! Oh, and a dash of romance to top it all off.
I’m delighted to be a part of the Regency Faerie Tales series, consisting of a trilogy of novels: ‘Half A Soul’, ‘Ten Thousand Stitches’ and ‘Long Shadow’. With thanks to @Tr4cyF3nt0n at Compulsive Readers for the invite and @orbitbooks for the review copies.
Do keep scrolling for the blurbs and some bookish chat…
HALF A SOUL
It’s difficult to find a husband in Regency England when you’re a young lady with only half a soul.
Ever since she was cursed by a faerie, Theodora Ettings has had no sense of fear or embarrassment – a condition which makes her prone to accidental scandal. Dora hopes to be a quiet, sensible wallflower during the London Season – but when the strange, handsome and utterly uncouth Lord Sorcier discovers her condition, she is instead drawn into dangerous and peculiar faerie affairs.
If Dora’s reputation can survive both her curse and her sudden connection with the least-liked man in all of high society, then she may yet reclaim her normal place in the world. . . but the longer Dora spends with Elias Wilder, the more she begins to suspect that one may indeed fall in love, even with only half a soul.
TEN THOUSAND STITCHES
Faerie godfathers are supposed to help young ladies find love. Unfortunately, no one told Lord Blackthorn that.
Effie has most inconveniently fallen in love with the dashing Mr Benedict Ashbrooke. There’s only one problem; Effie is a housemaid, and a housemaid cannot marry a gentleman. It seems that Effie is out of luck until she stumbles into the faerie realm of Lord Blackthorn, who is only too eager to help Effie win Mr Ashbrooke’s heart. All he asks in return is that Effie sew ten thousand stitches onto his favourite jacket.
Effie has heard rumours about what happens to those who accept help from faeries, but life as a maid at Hartfield is so awful that she is willing to risk even her immortal soul for a chance at something better. Now, she has one hundred days – and ten thousand stitches – to make Mr Ashbrooke fall in love and propose. . . if Lord Blackthorn doesn’t wreck things by accident, that is.
Proper Regency ladies are not supposed to become magicians – but Miss Abigail Wilder is far from proper.
The marriageable young ladies of London are dying mysteriously, and Abigail Wilder intends to discover why. Abigail’s father, the Lord Sorcier of England, believes that a dark lord of faerie is involved – but while Abigail is willing to match her magic against Lord Longshadow, neither her father nor high society believe that she is capable of doing so.
Thankfully, Abigail is not the only one investigating the terrible events in London. Mercy, a street rat and self-taught magician, insists on joining Abigail to unravel the mystery. But while Mercy’s own magic is strange and foreboding, she may well pose an even greater danger to Abigail’s heart.
HALF A SOUL
This is the first book in a Regency Faeries fantasy series by Olivia Atwater – each book is a stand-a-lone set in Regency England, but one where faeries and magic exists. So, imagine Jane Austen merged with the fae folk who live at the bottom of your garden 😉
In ‘Half A Soul’ our protagonist, Dora, has a problem – and that problem began when a faerie came to claim her soul as a young girl. Fortunately, her sister was on hand with a pair of iron scissors, although a little late – in the nick of time to avoid complete disaster. The outcome: Dora lives her life with half of her soul missing; it’s the half where her emotions come from, so that does have its drawbacks. Regency society, as always, demands young ladies find husbands and this has proven challenging for Dora but not her delightful sister.
In the wider world England is protected by the Lord Socier – who happens to be rather brooding, but with hidden depth and feelings. His role is challenging enough but when children begin to be afflicted by an unusual plague, the role of protector becomes even more difficult, and this is how our love interests meet.
‘Half a Soul’ is a charming, fun read that dives you into a world of faerie escapism set within the popular literary Regency period, I’d recommend ‘Half a Soul’ simply because it’s lots of fun and enables you to escape reality for a few hours. It’s also my favourite of the three reads.
TEN THOUSAND STITCHES
This book follows the life of Effie, who is suffering from ‘Insta Love’ for the dashing Mr. Benedict Ashbrooke. Effie is a great character, who’s a skilled at stitching and embroidering, but socially has a problem with finding love with Mr. Ashbrooke – she’s a maid. So, here sets up the dilemma for the book – mixed into this is the delightful Lord Blackthorn from the faerie realm, who embroils Effie in the fae world, of selling souls and mischievous business – who generally tries to help in the only way he knows. It’s fun, light-hearted and a gentle read with some depth in terms of themes – the poor, servant classes and workhouses.
This book opens with yet another problem – this one’s rather a big drama, as young, marriageable ladies in England are mysteriously dying! The books ties in more to ‘Half a Soul’, as our protagonist is Abigail – the daughter of Lord Sorcier and Dora. The problem seems routed in the court of Lord Longshadow.
Abigail soon finds an ally to help her investigate these dark events, it’s a young woman called Mercy – who’s a ‘street rat’ and a self-taught magician’. The pair set out and work together to find out what’s going on and who’s to blame. Along the wat Abigail and Mercy find out that they are falling for each other too.
This book has some great themes and world building, although a slower pace than the first two, it’s still fun to read with some more serious themes pushing through.
The tour closes today with my post but do check out all the fabulous bloggers on this tour and more bookish chat. Please buy from Independents if you can XX
Two men are found dead in London’s Battersea Park. One of the bodies has been laid out like a crucifix – with his eyes removed and placed on his open palms.
Detective Inspector Grace Archer and her caustic DS, Harry Quinn, lead the investigation. But when more bodies turn up in a similar fashion, they find themselves in a race against time to find the sadistic killer.
The hunt leads them to Ladywell Playtower in Southeast London, the home to a religious commune lead by the enigmatic Aaron Cronin. Archer and Quinn suspect Cronin’s involvement but his alibis are watertight, and the truth seemingly buried. If Archer is to find the killer, she must first battle her way through religious fanatics, London gangsters – and her own demons . . .
‘See No Evil’ is the second book by David Fennell featuring DI Grace Archer and DS Harry Quinn, the first being: ‘The Art of Death’. This can, absolutely, be read as a standalone, however it’s always an idea to start at the beginning of any series for character development plotting. But, it’s really not an issue as Fennell builds important relationship detail into the narrative and as the new plot develops we are drawn into the character portrayal from ‘The Art of Death’ as our principal characters deal with a new threat and perpetrator to hunt down.
I really enjoyed ‘See No Evil’ perhaps more than I did ‘The Art of Death’. In the first book I worked out too early where it was heading, but this time I was hooked into connecting all the pieces together until the end. From the start, Fennell’s character driven narrative hook immersed in fear and creepiness grabs the readers’ attention and introduces a brutal crime that builds as the story progresses. Again, this is not a book for the faint-hearted and there are dark, twisty moments that delve into fanatical mindsets and coercive behaviours.
If you’re a crime and thriller reader, I’d highly recommend both ‘The Art of Death’ and ‘See No Evil’ – a fast-paced, exhilarating crime thriller that explores darker themes and is satisfyingly good.
Please click on the below link to read about the first book in the series ‘The Art of Death’.
Born and raised in Belfast before leaving for London at the age of eighteen with £50 in one pocket and a dog-eared copy of Stephen King’s The Stand in the other. He jobbed as a chef, waiter and bartender for several years before starting a career in writing for the software industry. He has been working in CyberSecurity for fourteen years and is a fierce advocate for information privacy. David has played rugby for Brighton and has studied Creative Writing at the University of Sussex. He is married and he and his partner split their time between Central London and Brighton. To find out more, visit his website: www.davidfennell.co.uk. Follow him on Twitter: @davyfennell
‘See No Evil’ published 28th April 2022, Zaffre, Hardback, eBook and Audio, £14.99
I’m delighted to be a part of the Blog Tour for ‘The Physician’s Daughter’ by Martha Conway. What an eye-catching cover design, evoking the time period of the novel and the central relationship inside. My thanks to Zaffre for the gifted review copy and to Tracy for the tour invite. Do keep scrolling for some bookish chat.
It is 1865, the American Civil War has just ended, and 18-year old Vita Tenney is determined to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a country doctor like her father. But when her father tells her she must get married instead, Vita explores every means of escape – and finds one in the person of war veteran Jacob Culhane. Damaged by what he’s seen in battle and with all his family gone, Jacob is seeking investors for a fledgling business. Then he meets Vita – and together they hatch a plan that should satisfy both their desires. Months later, Vita seemingly has everything she ever wanted. But alone in a big city and haunted by the mistakes of her past, she wonders if the life she always thought she wanted was too good to be true. When love starts to compete with ambition, what will come out on top?
From the author of The Floating Theatre, The Physician’s Daughter is the story of two people trying to make their way in a world that is struggling to escape its past.
Each chapter of ‘The Physician’s Daughter’ is headed with a quotation which highlights the irony and ridiculousness of male thinking during the 19th Century, for example, the opening chapter begins with:
‘Hysteria is often excited in women by indigestion’ (On Diseases Peculiar to Women)
Dr Hugh Lenox, 1860
I looked forward to these chapter quotations and found them, quite frankly, gob smacking! From findings that ‘flat-chested females were unable to produce a well-developed infant’, to ‘the majority of women (happily for them) are not much troubled by sexual feeling of any kind’ Dr William Acton, 1888. Certainly, highlighting the view of the patriarchy and the medical profession of the period. Conway sets the scene nicely and introduces our protagonist Vita Tenney who is determined for the world to change as she seeks a position as a trainee doctor. The novel is set at the end of the American Civil War and the aftereffect of war is a consistent theme running through the story; this is also told through the perspective of Jacob Culhane, a previous soldier and prisoner of war. Vita’s father completely rejects the idea of his daughter becoming a doctor and following in his footsteps; the complex nature of grief is explored through her father and despite his harshness, there was a real sense of sadness at how loss affected him and by default the entire family. He states that Vita must marry instead, however Vita has other plans she’s determined to follow.
Vita and Jacob’s lives converge as they both attempt to control their futures despite hardships and adversary. I liked both characters, although at times Vita needed to open her eyes a little where Jacob was concerned; I did feel he forgave far too readily for her ‘betrayal’. I really felt for Jacob as he battled his ‘shakes’ from the war in a time where post-traumatic stress was not understood or treated well.
The story splits for a time and follows Vita and Jacob’s separate journeys until they find each other again; I thought the pace and engagement really picked up at this stage and I found it hard to put the book down.
With themes of grief, trauma, love, war, and the quest to follow your heart despite the odds, this book comes highly recommended from me. For readers seeking an engaging historical relationship drama with heart, then do pick up Conway’s ‘The Physician’s Daughter’.
THE BLOG TOUR
Martha Conway has been nominated for an Edgar Award and won the North American Book Award for Best Historical Fiction. She teaches creative writing for Stanford University’s Continuing Studies Program. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, she is one of seven sisters. She now lives in San Francisco with her family.
I’m delighted to be joining the MIMIC Audio Tour for Orion Books. I’m a huge fan of Cole’s RAGDOLL trilogy, so jumped at the chance to listen to the audiobook of Mimic. It’s read beautifully by Owusu, who captures the nuances of the storytelling well and injects Cole’s narrative humour with style. Thanks to all!
Audiobook read by Jude Owusu
In life she was his muse . . .
In death she’ll be his masterpiece.
1989: DS Benjamin Chambers and DC Adam Winters are on the trail of a serial killer with a twisted passion for recreating the world’s greatest works of art through the bodies of his victims. After Chambers nearly loses his life, the case goes cold due to lack of evidence. The killer lies dormant, his collection unfinished.
2006: DS Marshall has excelled through the ranks of the Metropolitan Police Service, despite being haunted by the case that defined her teenage years. Having obtained new evidence, she joins Chambers and Winters to reopen the case. However, their resurrected investigation brings about a fresh reign of terror, the team treading a fine line between delivering justice and becoming vigilantes in their pursuit of a monster far more dangerous and intelligent than any of them had anticipated…
As I said earlier, I loved the RAGDOLL series, each book was contrasting in style and I really engaged with this variation and creativity. Daniel Coles books are always fun to read, despite taking you into dark places, minds and events. The thrillers are carefully plotted with both dramatic and creative deaths and crimes – so be warned, this isn’t for the faint of heart.
I listened to the audiobook which was skillfully narrated by Jude Owoso and despite a more leisurely pace to the opening, events and pace build steadily and suddenly you’re hooked in and turning the pages at a pace.
There’s a great and slightly unusual character driven team working on the central investigation: DS Ben Chambers, PC Adam Winters and the modern newbie DC Jordan Marshall. The crime investigation initially begins in 1989 shifting to the reopening in 2006 and I enjoyed the changes of both the investigation, the development and changes of the 1989 investigators.
A part of Cole’s books that add to their charm, even though it’s rather macabre at times, is the humour, which I’ve also really enjoyed in previous Cole books – so please expect a chuckle along the way, if dark humour works for you? I think it comes across really well in the audiobook, perhaps much better than the physical book – this is of course helped along by the skillful narration of Owoso.
I don’t usually listen to audiobooks first, I tend to save them for favourite reads, purely because of my attention span. However, I did get hooked into MIMIC. I wasn’t as involved as I was with the RAGDOLL reads but that’s my personal reader response, not a criticism. Cole writes great books.
With the theme of art, specifically Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’ sculpture opening this crime mystery, Cole has created an intelligent cold case crime at the heart of this thriller. The reader follows the team as they hunt the perpetrator of the sick crimes that haunt them, to find closure on the case and to seek justice.
A gruesome crime thriller based on recreating famous works of art in the most macabre way. An intelligent, absorbing and addictive listen.
Daniel Cole has worked as a paramedic, an RSPCA officer and most recently for the RNLI, driven by an intrinsic need to save people or perhaps just a guilty conscience about the number of characters he kills off in his writing. He currently lives in sunny Bournemouth and can usually be found down the beach when he ought to be writing. Daniel’s debut novel Ragdoll was a Sunday Times bestseller and has been published in over thirty-five countries.
I’m really pleased to be chatting about FATAL ISLES, the first in the Doggerland series by Maria Adolfsson. Do keep scrolling for some bookish chat…
A remote island. A brutal murder. A secret hidden in the past . . .
In the middle of the North Sea, between the UK and Denmark, lies the beautiful and rugged island nation of Doggerland. Detective Inspector Karen Eiken Hornby has returned to the main island, Heimö, after many years in London and has worked hard to become one of the few female police officers in Doggerland.
So, when she wakes up in a hotel room next to her boss, Jounas Smeed, she knows she’s made a big mistake. But things are about to get worse: later that day, Jounas’s ex-wife is found brutally murdered. And Karen is the only one who can give him an alibi.
The news sends shockwaves through the tight-knit island community, and with no leads and no obvious motive for the murder, Karen struggles to find the killer in a race against time.
Soon she starts to suspect that the truth might lie in Doggerland’s history. And the deeper she digs, the clearer it becomes that even small islands can hide deadly secrets . . .
Firstly, what I enjoyed were the fabulous descriptions of Doggerland in this book. I loved the atmosphere it creates for the backdrop of the story and crime. It’s an engaging book from the start; there’s an easy opening narrative which serves to hook the readers into our protagonist’s, DI Karen Eiken Hornby, journey and challenges from the start. The investigation centres on the violent death of the ex-wife of the police forces head of CID and Hornby’s boss.
So, this investigation opens in an extremely complex way and the reader watches Hornby struggle with previous events and the current situation; this takes some juggling. There’s a strong cast of characters, both sympathetic and unsympathetic. There’s also an insight into how the police work, with all the expected dramas, back-stabbing, gossip with a constant underscore of male dominance.
It’s a carefully constructed and evenly paced crime novel. I liked the character of Karen Hornby and would happily continue reading this series. I also loved the setting and its community; a great location for secrets to hide in. I also didn’t realise Doggerland was an established series, so it’s great that more translations are, hopefully, coming.
A well-crafted atmospheric crime read that drags the reader into the lives and dramas of Doggerland.
‘Utterly captivating. Carrick spins an exciting web of mystery, magic, and political treachery in a richly drawn and innovative world.‘ S. A. Chakraborty, author of The City of Brass
‘Wonderfully immersive–I was unable to put it down.’ Andrea Stewart, author of The Bone Shard Daughter
‘I was utterly entranced by this glittering world filled with masked vigilantes, cunning conwomen, and dark magic. A sheer delight!’ Katy Rose Pool, author of There Will Come A Darkness
Nightmares are creeping through the city of dreams . . .
Renata Virdaux is a con artist who has come to the sparkling city of Nadezra — the city of dreams — with one goal: to trick her way into a noble house and secure her fortune and her sister’s future.
But as she’s drawn into the aristocratic world of House Traementis, she realises her masquerade is just one of many surrounding her. And as corrupted magic begins to weave its way through Nadezra, the poisonous feuds of its aristocrats and the shadowy dangers of its impoverished underbelly become tangled — with Ren at their heart.
The Mask of Mirrors is an epic, and I truly mean EPIC opening to the series. There’s over 700 pages of tightly packed writing to devour, so this is not for the faint-hearted; it’s a layered fantasy novel with a multitude of characters to enjoy and puzzle out, and at the heart of it all is Renata Virdaux, who is immersed in pulling off a detailed con to secure a fortune for herself and those she holds dear. This is a long book, as there’s an epic journey for our principal character to go on and a world of new people to meet and manipulate. But it soon becomes clear that there are many players with their own endgames to play.
Now, a word of advice, there’s a dramatis personae and a glossary at the back of the book – this is really useful, but I didn’t find it until halfway through the book. I really enjoyed the lead character of Renata, AKA Ren, as our central protagonist and through her perspective we see a fully rounded fantasy city of nightmares and nobility, politics and power, with a dash of Zorro into the mix. Despite Ren’s dualistic and duplicitous nature, she comes over strongly to the reader as a fighter; her resilience to better her situation and those she cares about is commendable. I enjoyed her wit and dedication to win, but the strength of heart as well. There are several other characters who are great to get to know and add layers to the multi-faceted world Carrick creates. From cousins and culprits to captains to cons, the intrigue, deceptions and quests build in both pace and plotting through this detailed novel.
The world of this novel has a vibrancy that pulsates from the pages; its scope is vast, and, with relief, the authors do not overload the reader, they craft a gradual understanding of the politics, communities, economies and systems, magical and otherwise to be revealed and understood. It’s the events and actions of the characters that show the reader how this world operates.
If you’re looking for a new fantasy series with depth then do consider ‘The Mask of Mirrors’.
M. A. Carrick is the pseudonym for Marie Brennan (author of The Memoirs of Lady Trent) and Alyc Helms (author of The Adventures of Mr. Mystic), yes, we pulled a fantasy version of James S. A. Corey because, why not?! With masked vigilantes, noble intrigue, and charming criminals, this is a dark, romantic, action-packed fantasy, perfect for readers of V. E. Schwab (A Darker Shade of Magic), Scott Lynch (The Lies of Locke Lamora) and even The Princess Bride.
Cassie Raven believes the dead can talk. We just need to listen . . .
People think being a mortuary technician is a seriously weird job. They can’t understand why I choose to cut up dead bodies for a living. But they don’t know what I know:
The dead want to tell us what happened to them.
I’ve eviscerated thousands of bodies, but never someone I know before – someone who meant a lot to me; someone I loved.
The pathologist says that her death was an accident.
Her body is telling me differently.
Do check out the book chat about Body Language until Dec 6th and do keep scrolling for my bookish chat 🙂
Our protagonist is a mortuary technician who is so attuned to the dead she encounters in her job, that she can sense and ‘hear’ them. This supernatural element provides a different tone to what is a new mystery crime thriller series featuring Cassie Raven. Cassie is unconventional in the sense that she’s young, and a goth adorned with tattoos and piercings; she adds originality and freshness to a new investigative crime character. Cassie’s certainly had some ups and downs in her life, and she appears to the reader early in the book as someone with tenacity, compassion and drive to both her job and for the end of life care her job can offer.
There are, of course, descriptions of the mortuary world of autopsies, so if you are squeamish or might find memories of lost ones upsetting, then do read with caution. For me, there’s a great deal of respect embedded behind the narrative, and Cassie herself is a comforting figure, as she talks to, cares and respects for the people she deals with.
I enjoyed the character of Cassie, and she’s the main drive for pushing the narrative forward for me, rather than the investigations. I liked the slow development of her relationship with the newly transferred DS Flyte, from distrust and unease to a respectful bond with an additional developing warm and twinkle.
Body Language is a great supernaturally enhanced new crime series with a great modern protagonist at the helm. I look forward to seeing how Turner develops the series.
With thanks to Zaffre Books for the review copy and to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for the Blog Tour invite.
It’s lovely to be a part of the blog tour to celebrate Sarah Franklin’s How to Belong, please do keep scrolling for some bookish chat…
Jo grew up in the Forest of Dean, but she was always the one destined to leave for a bigger, brighter future. When her parents retire from their butcher’s shop, she returns to her beloved community to save the family legacy, hoping also to save herself. But things are more complex than the rose-tinted version of life which sustained Jo from afar.
Tessa is a farrier, shoeing horses two miles and half a generation away from Jo, further into the forest. Tessa’s experience of the community couldn’t be more different. Now she too has returned, in flight from a life she could have led, nursing a secret and a past filled with guilt and shame.
Compelled through circumstance to live together, these two women will be forced to confront their sense of identity, and reconsider the meaning of home.
Firstly, I love the natural simplicity of the cover design for How to Belong. I love nature and the idea of a forest setting really appealed to me. I was not let down by Franklin; her writing is so vivid, the senses leap from the pages and the richness of the descriptive detail creates the perfect setting backdrop for a book of insightful observations of human behaviour, of challenges, disillusionment, trauma, hardships, defiance and illness.
I enjoyed the relationship between the two central, contrasting women (Jo and Tessa) and the sense of realism to the writing of their characters. Their friendship becomes a narrative drive for the reader and a revelation for the characters when building their futures. All this is explored in a slow paced, explorative way with a strong personal spirit behind the writing.
A story of community, of human nature and the depth of our interactions: of difference and connections. I thought this was a beautifully written book; a story of women, of place and the communities that frame them.
A sensitively and beautifully written story that I’d very happily recommend for readers looking for a reflective novel with both strength and hope at its heart.
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.
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’
‘It’s detailed, multi-layered and feels authentic – and might just win over historical fiction fans too’
‘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’
‘One of the most original and enthralling books I have read in a long time.’