Archive | May, 2016

A Walk on the Wild/Magical Side

22 May


I may not be able to tell you what exactly appealed to me in Dan Vyleta’s forthcoming Smoke, but I was hooked from the opening scene. He’s set the novel in the past, in and outside of London, but with a weird magical twist: people Smoke. Not cigarettes or cigars, but literally emit smoke when they commit sins. When they have impure thoughts, commit crimes, lie, a dark black smoke of varying odor and hue comes off of their bodies. The ideal is to be completely soot free, no traces of the foul blackness or grayness. Typically the upper class, Aristocratic people are the purest, with the Smoke and grime increasing as class level decreases.

The story opens at an all boy boarding school, late at night in the darkest basement. A creepy sort of peer tribunal in which the head boy, a boy who never Smokes, is questioning a younger classmate in front of all of the students. They boy is made to dress all in white so any Smoke/blackness would appear immediately. If the boy is made to smoke (by lying during the intense questioning) he is publicly shamed and forever scarred. This is where we meet two of the main characters, two boys who will find themselves chasing down the secrets of Smoke, its power and its purpose. It reminded me of The Magicians meets Game of Thrones meets Red Rising. 3.5 stars.