‘The laws of Smoke are complex. Not every lie will trigger it. A fleeting thought of evil may pass unseen. Next thing you know its smell is in your nose. There is no more hateful smell in the world than the smell of Smoke . . .’
A time when sin manifests into smoke. Anger, greed, lust, and any desire or emotion considered to be sinful produces smoke on the body and leaves soot on clothing, visible for all to see. Children are born with sin and at the age of eleven they must start learning to control the smoke. It is at a private boarding school in Oxford where we meet Charlie and Thomas, two sixteen year-olds with very different backgrounds but who have found friendship at a school that is responsible for teaching them discipline and control. A series of events and discoveries lead the two on a journey in search of truth. The truth behind the world of smoke.
A unique and intriguing premise that brings up some interesting questions about a world where sin is visible, and where the wealthy have discovered a way to conceal their smoke. The book is split into five sections, each focusing on a particular part of the journey, and while it is mostly told from a third person point of view there are first person perspectives inserted randomly throughout from various characters. A somewhat different approach but one that works well. The storytelling is very descriptive and slow paced, and although initially compelling, the mystery surrounding the smoke gets lost in the details. As the story gets further along it loses the initial intrigue, and the supporting characters are not nearly as engaging or developed as Charlie and Thomas. A great concept with some compelling characters, but one that doesn’t fully come together.