Friday, 21 March 2014

The Boy in the Smoke - Maureen Johnson | Review

The Boy in the Smoke, released as part of World Book Day, is a prequel to The Name of the Star/ The Shades of London series. I adore Maureen Johnson and the Shades series, so I was very excited to read this. The Boy in the Smoke follows Stephen Dene as he comes to terms with the hand life has dealt him, and how he becomes head of the Shades.
I’ve become very emotionally invested in Stephen Dene’s story, and I couldn’t wait to read more about him in this book. There was definitely a worry that the book might not appeal to those who haven’t read the Shades books. And admittedly, it’s true, this book gave current readers a really big understanding into Dene’s character and motivations. However I felt the story existed in its own right. Readers could read The Boy in the Smoke and not take another foray into the Shades universe if they didn’t want to. However it also wonderfully sets the scene, should they go on to read The Name of the Star, The Madness Underneath and subsequent books still to be released. 

The narrative in this book is beautifully written, and makes a nice change from the slightly angsty feel that Rory usually gives to the book. Instead it’s just heartbreaking. As I said earlier, I’ve become emotionally invested in Stephen’s story and some things definitely felt like a punch in the chest. It’s undeniably sad at parts, but there’s a lot to be said for the way in which certain themes are explored and not at all glossed over. 

I really enjoyed it, and couldn’t put it down. It’s fantastic for the old fans and new ones alike and I'm sure many people enjoyed spending their £1 book token on it.

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