There is nothing Thomas wants more than to get his mask, which will allow him to talk to a color and control an element of his world. Well, that, and stop the plague from turning his entire body into stone. But when his father, the famous Guy Fawkes, refuses to participate in his mask ceremony, everything seems lost, until he offers an alternative. Thomas can help his father kill the King of England and as payment, he'll get his mask and get rid of the plague.
I was really drawn to this book by the title and the cover. It definitely implied that it was related to legend of Guy Fawkes, which I've always found fascinating. I was a huge fan of the V For Vendetta graphic novel for that reason. I was really excited to see what direction this author decided to take this story. It was a definite surprise!
The setting of this book was spectacular. I loved Nadine Brandes's twist on history in this book. She effortlessly weaves her magic in through facts from the history books and legends. It almost reminded me of an episode of Doctor Who, where the characters go back in time to meet famous people from history. The magic, the conflict and the plague are all essential to Thomas's story but also to the world Brandes creates. I was very impressed!
The beginning of the book drops you in media res quite literally. The narrator does not take any time explaining the details of the world, but the reader is left to learn about them on their own using context clues. Many elements of the plot and characters are described assuming that the reader already knows about everything. While this can be a fun technique sometimes, I found it was difficult to feel invested in the plot until I had a firm grasp on what was actually going on. Once I learned more about the world and plot though, I was completely hooked in the story. I just wish I'd been hooked a bit sooner.
I struggled to feel connected to the characters in this book. While Thomas definitely has some relatable moments, he's in a near state of crisis the entire plot. He's solving one problem after another with little downtime. This made it difficult for me to understand who he really is, since I rarely saw him outside of conflict. He is also at odds with many of the other characters for most of the book, who he either vilifies or idolizes without much middle ground. This made it difficult for me to feel attached to these characters either.
Those who love The Paper Magician and V For Vendetta will love this fun and exciting novel by Nadine Brandes. Fawkes has an excellent and unique setting, with a plot that is difficult to understand at first but will really grab you if you have the patience to get through the first chapters. I struggles to connect with the character in this book, but definitely felt compelled to read to the end because of the plot itself.