Review: Smoke, by Dan Vyleta

y450-293Synopsis: If sin were visible and you could see people’s anger, their lust and cravings, what would the world be like? Smoke opens in a private boarding school near Oxford, but history has not followed the path known to us. In this other past, sin appears as smoke on the body and soot on the clothes. Children are born carrying the seeds of evil within them. The ruling elite have learned to control their desires and contain their sin. They are spotless. It is within the closeted world of this school that the sons of the wealthy and well-connected are trained as future leaders. Among their number are two boys, Thomas and Charlie. On a trip to London, a forbidden city shrouded in smoke and darkness, the boys will witness an event that will make them question everything they have been told about the past. For there is more to the world of smoke, soot and ash than meets the eye and there are those who will stop at nothing to protect it

Title: Smoke
Author: Dan Vyleta
Publisher: W&N
Pub Date: 7th July 2016
Pages: 488
ISBN: 9780297609926

Rating: 3stars

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Imagine it.

Loved one make you irrationally angry over a tiny thing? You smoke.

Tell a little white lie? You smoke.

Have a fleeting naughty thought about your office crush? You smoke.

Can you imagine a world where no indiscretion can be hidden; no dark thought disguised?!

When I saw the cover of Smoke on Netgalley, I was excited. When I read the synopsis, I was utterly enthralled. The premise is a fascinating one; part historical fiction, part paranormal dystopia, this Victorian world of darkness and sin just screamed ‘read me!’.

And the first third of the book didn’t disappoint. Thomas and Charlie are compelling and rich characters, each likeable and sympathetic enough to capture your interest. The writing style is dense and descriptive, but it suits the setting and atmosphere of the novel. There’s enough depth and darkness to keep the pages turning quickly.

But then things start to go downhill. Where we started in the boarding school, suddenly the focus shifts to a manor house, then to London, and back again. Each movement makes the plot thicken, but reveals nothing. In other stories you wouldn’t think twice about changes in location, but the plot becomes so dense here, it all just gets a bit too much.

Vyleta can’t seem to decide what he wants the book to be about – religious extremes, political revolution, the nature of sin? He packs so much into the last 300 pages, it gets too convoluted to enjoy.

Overall, if I had to rate Smoke on the first third I’d give it 5 stars. I really wanted to love this book but I just can’t give it more than 3 stars for overall enjoyment.

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