Imagine a world in which every bad thought you had was made visible. Where anger, hatred and envy appeared as a thick, infectious smoke pouring from your body, leaving soot on your skin. A society controlled by an elite who have learned to master their darkest desires.
Thomas and Charlie are friends at a boarding school near Oxford, where the children of the rich and powerful are trained to be future leaders. Charlie is naturally good, but Thomas's father was accused of a terrible crime, and Thomas fears that the same evil lies coiled inside him. Then, on a trip to London - a forbidden city shrouded in darkness - they learn all is not as it appears. So begins a quest to understand the truth about this world of smoke, soot and ash - and perhaps to change it.
'Mesmerising and imaginative ... a novel that tackles the most fundamental question of good versus evil' Hannah Beckerman, Observer
'Like an adult version of the Harry Potter books with a touch of Dickensian dystopia ...a sheer delight' Maxim Jakubowski, Lovereading
'A novel that stays in the imagination long after it is read' Adam Roberts, Guardian
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. He lives in Stratford-upon-Avon.