I wasn’t ready to turn to mush.
I leaned so close to the large, blue book that my ink tears left a black spot on the pages, but I held still. Or tried to. I couldn’t control the sobbing. The ink spot had smeared all over the pages of the book!
This is why you should never read Fawkes to an Authorosaurus. You’ll regret it. Your book will regret it. And your budget will regret it because if your Authorosaurus doesn’t devour the book in one gulp, the plot will send tears streaming down his face and splat on the book—and you’ll have to buy a new one. Thankfully, though, the copy that Mariposa read to me was borrowed, so she didn’t have to purchase a new copy for herself.
She just had to buy a new copy for the person she borrowed it from.
Rating: 4 Claws (that’s the equivalent of 4 stars)
What we liked: Nadine’s book is as colorful as all the masks in the story and I can’t possibly list every aspect we liked unless you want to be here until I go extinct (which may not be very long since Mariposa is always threatening to end my life), so I’ll just name a few things.
The vivid setting and unique world-building. From the moment Thomas stepped into London, I could smell the stench of the Thames (thanks a lot Brandes, we really wanted to have wrinkly noses) and see the people bustling about. She blended fantasy with fact so realistically I bought my own mask and expected colors to react to my commands…now I’m disappointed.
Not knowing what to expect. We relished the unpredictability—except for when we had to stop in the middle of the action for something unimportant like work.
The characters of White Light and Emma. Like everyone who has read and will ever read Fawkes, one of our favorite characters was White Light. I shall not tell you why we liked him, you shall have to discover that your own.
And not to spoil anything, but that’s basically the protagonist’s life story.
However, Mariposa particularly enjoyed the character of Emma. As an artist herself, she could understand her passion for creating more than just a portrait. I, on the other claw, am not an artist and do not understand why people slave all day to capture a likeness—don’t they know cameras have been invented?
The ending. I cried over the ending. I smiled over the ending. And Mariposa cried because she had to clean up the mess, but it was worth it (reading it that is). The ending was so perfectly imperfect I could’ve sworn it happened in real life.
Which, it sorta did, considering this was based on history.
What we didn’t like: Before I continue further, I want to inform you that Mariposa is extremely picky with books, and she doesn’t typically read fantasy, historical fiction, or teen novels—and Fawkes was a combination of all three—so she read it with the expectation of not liking it. And for a while, she didn’t. Not to say she hated it or anything; the plot intrigued her and kept her turning the pages despite her misgivings. Her trouble was that she didn’t seem to like the protagonist. She couldn’t find hardly anything positive about him or anything to root for.
But towards the middle, her perspective shifted and she developed a mild fondness for the fellow anyway. About a third of the way through, she finally admitted to liking him after all.
Our Favorite Quote: “Belief needs to be grounded in more than just personal convictions.”*
What we learned: Fawkes holds many lessons for storytellers (which is why Saury Embers did an article series on it—you can check that out here), but one lesson Mariposa learned from it had nothing to do with the book. In the beginning stages when she was having trouble connecting with Thomas, she wondered if she’d like the book at all. What was wrong with it? What mistake had the author made? But so many people had read this book and raved about it—why couldn’t she? She realized that her inability to relate to the protagonist had nothing to do with Brandes’ talent as a writer—it was simply Mariposa’s personal preference. And that made her realize something about her own stories. A writer may craft a brilliant book (like Brandes) and still have people who either don’t like it or don’t love it as much as others. People have different tastes—and what resonates with one might fall flat with another—and that’s okay.
(As a side note, Mariposa did end up enjoying Fawkes which is high praise considering it’s a genre she doesn’t usually read.)
What We’re Reading Next
I must say I immensely enjoyed Fawkes, though not quite so much as Fossilkes (the story of dinosaurs getting turned into fossils). Now my boss and I are on to read a collections of essays by C. S. Lewis on writing.
Nadine Brandes, Fawkes (Thomas Nelson, 2018), 350.