The exciting and adventurous events of ‘The Smoke Hunter’ is set in a time way back from our own. It addresses the mindset of a woman of modern thoughts living in 1898 and a rebellious man trying to make his way in life. They are caught together in a race to reach their goal against some influential and dangerous men.
About the Story
The Smoke Hunter is an archaeological fiction by Jacquelyn Benson is a story of a woman, Ellie, who races against pursuers (not time) and pre-decided fate to make her own way in the world through discovery of the mysterious city and its artifact. On the way she meets a man, Adam Bates and against all intentions the two end up gaining each other rather than the archaeological find they seeked.
The man is clearly self made, doesn’t sit well with rules and authorities but contrarily is one of the authoritative member of the society. He also has a peculiar sense of survival filled with courage that gets him out of every situation. He doesn’t necessarily have a clear mind or idea at most places but his amazing focus in any present situation serves him well throughout the story.
Suitably known as Ellie, this woman has a complicated character of a person who had hardened against the opposite sex with time and fight. Though female genre is suppressed in this century, it is undeniable that Ellies has a sense of self importance that keeps her fighting, which if a man where to possess would be called cocky.
There is also her perfect knowledge of ancient history, stable mind in tough spots and Wushu that gets her through her adventures time and time again. Strewn with lies from the start of her journey, most of the book is covered in self reflection. Yet, her chemistry with Adam keeps us reading more and more of each adventure they face together. Not to mention, at many times, Ellie stoke of luck worked for her; being captured in the dangerous jungle, Constance’s help, her own art of Wushu, echo of the sacrificed woman and the man- Amilcar Kuyoe.
This was an intriguing character in the story whoes perspective whenever available was filled with a sense of loss, self reflection of his action and a hunger for justification about the night of murder (the dark night in his life).
In his own way, the man scared for his life, fate and of his employer tries to do the right thing in a single small moment by warning Ellie. All throughout the book, all he ever strives to find, is an explanation to his action and finally ‘The Smoking Mirror’ shows him the real culprit.
The continuous mention of Ostrask which is related to his associate Mr. Jacobs also comes clear and the readers see the full scope of horror the mostly silent man is capable of.
This village leader is introduced in the middle of the story and plays an important role towards the end when he comes around to become the sacrifice. In this moment his complete story is laid bare and his final act of setting things right. In many ways, he seems like the late priestess woman who sacrificed herself for a greater cause in the future- the destruction of the mirror.
The gist of the story is quite apt in terms of story but there is so much more to gain in this book. For one the mysterious prologue set in 1632 will leave you with trepidation dues to its self righteous characters and horror driven events.
The actual story starts with Ellie in her sad office ready to be fired as she stumbles across an artifact. Unaware that the artifact was being poached, she makes a run for her adventure with it. The start of the story is just as exciting as any part of it. Though, for me, it fell short in the center for a handful of chapters before picking up again with exhilarating events. But even in low times, the book is filled with the main lead’s chemistry and sarcastically challenging conversations. Other than that the mysterious dreams of a woman and the visions also make for an fascinating story arc.
Ellie and Adam’s Chemistry
Adam and Ellie’s first few encounter are hilarious, endearing and filled with jarring and jabbing conversations. They are also filled with mistrust before actually starting to warm up. What also works for me refreshingly is the similarity in the lead characters. Unlike most novels, these two are more similar than they know. They defy social norms, thy crave to make their mark upon the world, both seek an adventurous life, each have a habit of harboring prejudices, both are seemingly hard headed at most times and are not followers, in the least. More so, their qualities compliment each other in dire situations as much as they clash otherwise.
You can tell, I love that chemistry!
There are moments (various) in the book when Ellie is busy self reflecting as Adam solves a problem and it feels frustrating not to have the action point of view and being stuck with Ellie’s self babble. At such times, Adam’s perspective of the story becomes very refreshing for his self reflecting moments are mostly overcomes by his focus on the current situation at hand.
It is heir chemistry that makes it easy to bounce back from the moment of mistrust when Ellie’s lies are unraveled. It is also comic for the readers to discover the connection Adam has to Ellie, unknowingly, through her cousin and his best friend, Neil. It’s like being fate, if only they’d think like I do 😉
The story’s end was tied neatly in terms of events that lead to the discovery and destruction of The Smoking Mirror but there are unanswered questions strewn in the end as the villain of the story, Mr. Jacobs escape. The readers are even left hanging on the mystery of his employer, a man surely working in the Britain foreign office. This gives us hope and hunger for the next book in this series.
P.S – Follow the author’s Pinterest if you are interested in knowing what may come next