An Alternate Victorian England Where Every Wicked Thought is Visible: “Smoke” by Dan Vyleta

On Art and Aesthetics

Smoke by Dan Vyleta (2017, Anchor)

The last book set in Victorian England that I read was the brilliant The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry – on science, religion, legend and the different forms of love. For the past two weeks, I have been into Smoke – a dystopian novel set in an “alternate” Victorian England authored by Dan Vyleta (@danvyleta). [Comparisons have been made to the Harry Potter series and Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (2004).] Of Czech parentage, Vyleta has lived in Germany, Canada, the USA and the UK. His previous novels are Pavel and I (2009), The Quiet Twin (2012) and The Crooked Maid (2013).

Smoke takes us into a world where vice is visible. All your wicked deeds and thoughts – harsh or harmless – are projected from your body in the form of telltale grit, soot and black cloud. The…

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