Smoke first intrigued me because of the watercolor cover. I’m a sucker for watercolor. The deep blues and purples and reds gave it a romantic feel but the shadowed tower in the background left an ominous and mysterious feeling. The back of the book talked about smoke emitting from people’s bodies in a sinful fashion. Well now I had to read it to find out what all this smoke was about.
Dan Vyleta is an old hand at writing novels and it shows. I haven’t read any of his other work but I imagine it all to be as beautifully written as Smoke is. It did take me a couple of chapters to fully comprehend what the smoke was. But it is a physical manifestation that uses orifices and pores to escape a person’s body. Set during the mid-1800s, religion and aristocracy were held in high standard. Smoke is the physical release of intense emotions and considered “sinful.” Aristocrats didn’t do things as common as “smoke.” But everyone has intense emotions of one kind or another so the aristocrats have poured money into devices that will bind their smoke so it doesn’t manifest on their body.
Vyleta has created a thrilling novel filled with all manner of characters who live in London and its outskirts. There is a love triangle that forms between the three main characters, which I wasn’t crazy about as it formed, but I didn’t hate it by the end either. Vyleta could easily continue this story with Livia, Thomas, and Charlie as they move onward, on the heels of the revolution, but Smoke wrapped up nicely as a standalone novel as well. I was very pleased with my first encounter with Dan Vyleta and will keep a look out for future work.