Smoke by Dan Vyleta


Title: Smoke

Author: Dan Vyleta

Publisher: Orion

Feeling: Confused


It brings me a little sadness to review this book because despite an exciting beginning I had unfortunately fallen completely out of love with it by the end.

The premise of this book is undeniably unique and undoubtedly what peaked my interest when I was offered a copy to review from the publisher. The story takes place in an England unlike that that exists now; potentially a future version of the country but one that feels as though it is set a couple of hundred years in the past. That is, with one major difference: smoke. In the world that Vyleta has created smoke is an inescapable phenomenon. It is seen as a physical manifestation of sin amongst humans. When individuals lie, act through aggression or lust or even just think uncouth thoughts they begin to smoke. The reason for smoke it is not, however, as clear cut as it might seem. In fact what really created smoke was one of the fascinating mysteries that had me engaged in the story from the beginning; I wanted answers.

The story itself predominantly follows three main characters: Charlie, Thomas and Lydia. We do, however, receive intermittent chapters from the perspectives of various other characters. Both in first person and second person, which is where the first  signs of confusion in the author’s writing began. Perhaps this style was intended to serve a purpose but more than anything else it was jarring. I was, however, able to push past this one irritant without it affecting my reading experience a great deal.

Charlie and Thomas are peers at an all boys boarding school and best friends. And this is where our story kicks off. Roughly the first third of this book had me thoroughly hooked especially once we had gotten into what felt like the crux of the story. It was fun and intriguing and I expected an engaging ride. Unfortunately this was the peak of the novel and from about half way in things just started to go downhill.

There is an incredibly irritating love triangle and I, unusually, have nothing against love triangles (maybe I just haven’t read enough of them to be instantly annoyed by them). This one was pretty irritating though. Some of the relationships felt as though there had been very little build up in the characters’ interactions to lead to this point at all. And do not get me started on some of the characters’ motivations because if I even know I am not convinced. All in all, rushed and messy is how I would sum up the second half of the book. The character development and world building just felt as though it was full of holes and could have benefited from some slower moments in the plot. By the end I simply could not care less about any of it.

I think Vyleta deserves a lot of credit for a unique premise and an initially interesting cast of characters but unfortunately the execution of the novel as a whole fell flat.


3 thoughts on “Smoke by Dan Vyleta

    • I think the reason it was compared to Harry Potter is the 2 boys and 1 girl cast (I assume – the boarding school setting was a tiny part of it) but it’s nothing like it unfortunately 🙄 that comparison is getting old haha.


  1. Hi Jean 🙂 I was also drawn in by the premise on this one and initially I was intrigued but it was such a frustrating disappointment! I’m so glad I have found someone else who mirrored my feelings. I had just finished reading a classic, so thought I may have judged this one too harshly. However, ‘Jarring’ is the perfect word to describe the writing 😉 I congratulate you on making it to the end, I had to bid it farewell at page 75. Good to know I made the right decision! Thank you for the review x

    Liked by 1 person

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