How pure would you be if every bad thought or deed poured out like smoke? Part fantasy, part mystery, Smoke is set in industrial-age London, where smoke seeps out of your body in varying degrees with every sin you commit. The city is polluted with smoke, which infects its inhabitants with thoughts of lust and malice. The nobility live outside of the squalor of the city, and send their children to boarding schools to learn the discipline to keep themselves clean. Smoke follows two of these schoolboys as they are pulled into a conspiracy that threatens to dissolve their whole society.
A pulse-pounding narrative that is both a depiction of a stark class divide and an exploration of the nature of sin and what it means to be human.
— Jenn, Atlanta
June 2016 Indie Next List
“Imagine a world where every dark thought you possessed was revealed by a wisp of smoke. And what if a portion of society could hide their darkness, while others were forever stained by their sins? Set in an alternative England, this tale reveals what really lies behind this sinful soot through the eyes of three teenagers who begin to question all they have been told. Smoke is a brilliant combination of fantasy and historical fiction, where layers of mystery and glimmers of truth will keep readers feverishly turning pages until the very end.”
— Luisa Smith (E), Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA
Readers of the Harry Potter seriesand Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell are sure to be mesmerized by Dan Vyleta’s thrilling blend of historical fiction and fantasy, as three young friends scratch the surface of the grown-up world to discover startling wonders—and dangerous secrets.
“Dan Vyleta writes with intricacy and imagination and skillful pacing; never once would I have considered putting his book down. In the manner of both a Dickens novel and the best young adult adventure stories (the Harry Potter series among them). . .his ending, which I wouldn’t dare reveal here, is a real firecracker.”—Jennifer Senior, The New York Times
Welcome to a Victorian England unlike any other you have experienced before. Here, wicked thoughts (both harmless and hate-filled) appear in the air as telltale wisps of Smoke.
Young Thomas Argyle, a son of aristocracy, has been sent to an elite boarding school. Here he will be purged of Wickedness, for the wealthy do not Smoke. When he resists a sadistic headboy's temptations to Smoke, a much larger struggle beyond the school walls is revealed. Shortly thereafter, on a trip to London, Thomas and his best friend witness events that make them begin to question everything they have been taught about Smoke.
And thus the adventure begins... You will travel by coach to a grand estate where secrets lurk in attic rooms and hidden laboratories; where young love blossoms; and where a tumultuous relationship between a mother and her children is the crucible in which powerful passions are kindled, and dangerous deeds must be snuffed out in a desperate race against time.
About the Author
DAN VYLETA is the son of Czech refugees who emigrated to Germany in the late 1960s. He holds a Ph.D. in history from King's College, Cambridge. Vyleta is the author of three novels, Pavel & I, The Quiet Twin, which was shortlisted for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, and The Crooked Maid, which was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and won the J.I. Segal Award. An inveterate migrant, Vyleta has lived in Germany, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. He currently resides in Stratford-upon-Avon in England.
“Dan Vyleta writes with intricacy and imagination and skillful pacing; never once would I have considered putting his book down. In the manner of both a Dickens novel and the best young adult adventure stories (the Harry Potter series among them), the children run away together to uncover the dark secrets of the grown-up world . . .his ending, which I wouldn’t dare reveal here, is a real firecracker, and the lessons Mr. Vyleta wishes to impart are largehearted” —Jennifer Senior, The New York Times
"Vyleta's Gothic YA fantasy is part Dickens, part dystopia and totally immersive; a book as eerie and atmospheric as its sooty muse." —Entertainment Weekly's "Best Books of 2016 so far..."
“Compelling…a gloriously murky vision of the past. . . .[D]eliriously imagined. . . . Elusive and nebulous, this gas-lamp fantasy at time borders on steampunk through the grimy lens of a dystopian past.” —NPR.org
“Vyleta has woven a powerful fictional spell, creating both an entire world (as believable as it is incredible) and a richly crafted cast of characters. It’s a unique and unforgettable reading experience.” —National Post (Canada)
“A fiercely inventive novel . . . Vyleta’s bold concept and compelling blend of history and fantasy offer a provocative reflection on the nature of evil, power, believe, and love. Dickensian in its imaginative scope and atmosphere.” —Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“[T]he novel's sumptuous, irresistible narrative—filled with plenty of twists and turns and imagination—will satisfy any reader. A terrific, suspenseful tale.” —Kirkus
“Is it natural to think ‘bad’ thoughts, and if so, does that make it OK? Do people behave morally out of true goodness? Full of otherworldly adventure yet chilling in its realism, Smoke lures readers into considering these questions about society and ourselves.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Dan Vyleta has conjured a rich and surprising counter-history, an England saturated with a substance so potent and evocative it vaults instantly into the pantheon that includes the Dust of Philip Pullman, the soma of George Orwell, and the opium of Amitavh Ghosh. Smoke is enthralling.” —Robin Sloan, bestselling author of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
“Smoke is one of the most original and enthralling books I have read in a long time. I was immediately sucked in and then mesmerized enough that I read it in a rush. I think the book is absolutely stunning. I’ve told so many people about it, I feel like I should carry a bag of galleys around with me to hand out. I’ve refined my elevator pitch to: ‘Smoke is an addictive combination of thriller, fantasy, and historical novel, with a dash of horror. It’s chilling and complex and amazingly imaginative.’” —Marilyn Dahl, Shelf Awareness
"Astonishing . . . It's filling in that gaping hole left by both Harry Potter and Philip Pullman's Northern Lights. Yes, really." —Stylist