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The Boy in the Smoke
The Boy in the Smoke
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publication date: February 24th 2014
Published by: Hot Key Books
ISBN: 147140322X
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The Boy in the Smoke is a 2014 novella that was published as a prequel to Maureen Johnson's The Shades of London book series.

The prequel, published by Hot Key Books, was available for purchase for £1/€1.50, or for free in exchange for a World Book Day Token in the UK and Ireland from March 3rd – 30th 2014, in celebration of World Book Day on March 6th.  American citizens are able to buy the books in an e-book version.

Blurb Edit

On a cold night, Stephen Dene went to the Eton boathouse to perform a desperate act. But someone stopped him along the way, sending his life in a new and decidedly strange direction–leading him to London, to two new friends, and to a world of shadows and mystery.

Read the BookEdit

Maureen Johnson started to release parts of the novella on her Wattpad account from the 18th August 2014, as many fans who were not based in the UK found it difficult to find and acquire the book.

The entire story can be found here: The Boy in the Smoke

Plot SummaryEdit

The story starts on Friday 15th May with Stephen sitting on the steps of Chatwick House at St.George's School, suddenly realising that his parents do not care for him as much as they should as they had left their 13 year old son at school and went on holiday to Barbados instead. After harbouring this suspicion for years, Stephen fully realises that his parents aren't as affectionate as they should be after observing his fellow peers' relationships with their parents. He visualises the court case that would unfold if his parents were put on trial for their negligence as in times of stress, his mind strays to the various police and crime dramas he watches; an idea fuelled by his growing interest in a potential career in policing. Eventually, fed up of waiting, he texts his older sister Regina who is inherently outraged. The headmaster's wife takes Stephen into their private residence and feeds him, leading Stephen to overhear a conversation where he finds out that his housekeeper is coming to collect him. Paulina eventually collects him and Stephen returns home to find Gina waiting for him. He is bemused and asks her about her exams and so she responds that she left her exams to come and get him.

She says they can spend the day however he wants, like traveling to Spain or Paris. Stephen just wants to go to London. He later thinks of it as one of the happiest days of his life.

They stop by a diner to meet a friend of Regina's. The two ladies step into the bathroom for a few munites. Stephen can tell something isn't right with Regina, but he decides not to mention it.

They go to the family penthouse, where Regina starts destroying their expensive possessions out of anger over their parents forgetting Stephen, despite him trying to calm her down.

Exhausted, Regina soon falls asleep, and Stephen tries to clean up the mess before their parents come home.

Regina and her parents have a fight that ends with them kicking her out, and her storming off.

Regina moves in with a friend, and the only contact she has with Stephen after that is by phone calls she makes, sometimes while she's drunk or high. Stephen wants to talk to her about it, but ultimately he never does.

Stephen goes to Eaton, and gets called to the school office, where he's informed his sister died of a drug overdose.

He throws himself into his schoolwork as a coping mechanism.

On the fifth of June, his parents come to Eton. During a picnic, he tries to talk about Regina, but his family shoot him down. His father leads Stephen to the parking lot and turns on him, asking if Stephen knew what was going on with Regina, why didn't he talk to her? Then his parents leave.

Stephen has a little to drink, and tries to hang himself in the boathouse, an action he immediately regrets. He tries, unsuccessfully, to free himself, when suddenly, a boy he's never seen before talks to him a bit before he rights Stephen's chair and vanishes.

Early the next morning, Stephen goes to the San and reports what he tried to do.

Stephen's parents check him into a modern and very clean psychiatric hospital for the rich and forget about him.

He's approached by at least two different people who want to recruit him for his new ability to see ghosts, and sweeten the offer by dangling the opportunity to become a Police officer in front of him.

Stephen accepts, on the condition that he be given all the files of past Eton students between a certain time peroid (so he can confirm that the boy who rescued him was actually a ghost).

Stephen is taken to a haunted house and given his first terminus, which he uses successfully on the ghost of a little girl heavily implied to be a murderer.

Then Stephen goes back to Eton. He returns to the boathouse, talks to the ghost of the boy who saved him, and with permission, says a final thanks and goodbye, before pressing his fingers to the buttons.

Book SourcesEdit

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Alternative CoverEdit

Boy In The Smoke