Smoke by Dan Vyleta
Sin unfurls from the body like smoke, leaving a stain on anything it touches. It’s been like that like for as long as anyone can remember.
Three teenagers soon learn that everything they thought they knew is a lie as they are caught up in a plot to change the world of Smoke.
- Interesting concept
- Loved the resolution of both the story and the love triangle
- Made me think of classics like Dickens or Hardy or even Austen
- Changes in POV and person confusing at times
- Had the clichéd love triangle
- Sort of the ending.
First I have to say that I’m not sure that I enjoyed it exactly. I liked it well enough but not outright enjoyed it. It’s a fascinating idea, a sort of alternative history set in Victorian England, where Smoke comes from the body when someone sins. The whole concept of sin within the book is complex, sometimes a lie can set it off sometimes it doesn’t. I found it very interesting but I really appreciated how it wasn’t always the most important thing. The book was led by its characters and its themes.
There’s a lot characters, most of whom of their own POV sections but I’d say the main characters are Thomas and Charlie. I would say Livia as well but something about her felt like a secondary character at times, even Julius seemed more of a main than her.
I loved how each character felt distinct: Thomas a temperamental leader, worried for what he could become and Charlie a charming boy, the very idea of an English Gentleman. Everyone has their own character without really feeling like a stereotype. And everyone develops as the story goes on, not always for the better, which is shown in the writing styles, and how it change during their sections.
While it showed their characters, the changes in POV and from third person was a bit confusing at times. Every now and then I didn’t even notice that there was a change in POV until a character spoke that shouldn’t be there. Admittedly that could have been the addition I was reading that didn’t leave enough spaces between sections to make it more distinct.
While characterisation was really good, I’m still trying to work out if the ending felt in character or not. The ending was brilliant and not really what I was expecting. It felt both like a closure to the story but left enough mystery for the reader to decide what happened next … or to have a sequel. But I’m still not sure if that is what the characters involved would do. They could very well have done it … trying so hard not to spoil the ending… but I’m really not sure. I liked it all the same.
Just on the point of the characters, there is a love triangle but it’s not too bad. It develops gradually, though I could see that it was likely to happen we have the girl’s first section, and it has a really good ending.
At times the story got a little lost in the politics. I actually forgot about the Smoke in the middle for a while. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It helps make the Smoke more realistic and set it in the world, I just don’t usually like reading about it. It reminded me of classic novels like those of Dickens, Hardy or even Austen, especially in regards to London. In all of them London is a place of sin and any who enter there seem to be corrupted which is in this book but more literally. More in Hardy and Dickens then Austen, there is a lot of talk about the class divide and makes the poorer classes mostly nobler than the aristocracy and this book mostly follows this theme despite the main characters being heirs of aristocrats.
All in all this is a really good book. It may use themes that I don’t generally like but it was compelling and brilliantly told. It reminded me a lot of Victorian classics but with the Smoke twist which helped keep me interested. Well worth a read.