'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 . . .'
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 . . .
Astonishing ... it's filling in that gaping hole left by both Harry Potter and Philip Pullman's Northern Lights. Yes, really Stylist Books to look out for in 2016 NEW STATESMAN
Dan Vyleta is the son of Czech refugees who emigrated to Germany in the late 1960s. After growing up in Germany, he left to attend university in the UK where he completed a PhD in History at King's College, Cambridge. His debut novel, Pavel I, gathered immediate international acclaim and was translated into eight languages. His second novel, The Quiet Twin, was shortlisted for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, and his third, The Crooked Maid, was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and won the J.I Segal Award. When not reading or writing novels, Dan Vyleta watches cop shows, or listens to CDs from his embarrassingly large collection of jazz albums. He lives in Stratford-upon-Avon.