I knew it from the beginning, there was something special about this novel. I could tell it was nearing 5 star territory and by the end it wound up being an all time favorite. It had all the elements I love in a fantasy novel, excellent characters, found family, intriguing mystery, and plenty of scary don’t read this in the dark moments.
Not only was the writing impeccable, the atmosphere gave me chills. Set in England 1882, we are thrust into a time of the past. This element made the scary parts even more intense. Knowing the characters don’t have access to modern day amenities added to the tension they were feeling.
England, 1882. In Victorian London, two children with mysterious powers are hunted by a figure of darkness —a man made of smoke.
Sixteen-year-old Charlie Ovid, despite a lifetime of brutality, doesn’t have a scar on him. His body heals itself, whether he wants it to or not. Marlowe, a foundling from a railway freight car, shines with a strange bluish light. He can melt or mend flesh. When two grizzled detectives are recruited to escort them north to safety, they are forced to confront the nature of difference, and belonging, and the shadowy edges of the monstrous.
What follows is a journey from the gaslit streets of London, to an eerie estate outside Edinburgh, where other children with gifts—the Talents—have been gathered. Here, the world of the dead and the world of the living threaten to collide. And as secrets within the Institute unfurl, Marlowe, Charlie and the rest of the Talents will discover the truth about their abilities, and the nature of the force that is stalking them: that the worst monsters sometimes come bearing the sweetest gifts.
I feel in love with all the characters in this book. That doesn’t happen often for me. I even liked the bad guy, Jacob Marber. I liked how we got little bits of back story for each of them, but only at the right moments. Everything was revealed in time and that added to the mystery surrounding them. Their stories were complex and they all had hidden secrets.
If you like the found family aspect in books you will love this one! Charlie Ovid and Marlowe have an amazing brotherly relationship. They grow to trust each other and by the end you will be sobbing. In fact you might cry a few times. I won’t say anything else, but don’t get too attached to these characters.
The “super power” parts of this book were perfection. It never felt gimmicky or super heroish. In fact if people really did have special abilities or “talents” this is how I would imagine it. We were there when the characters discover their powers and are able to connect with their wonder and fear throughout as they learn to live with these new abilities.
Luckily for us this is scheduled to be a trilogy so we can get more of this complex world. I will definitely be continuing the series.