Welcome to a world where bodies speak to one another and infect each other with desire, or anger, or greed. It is 1909 and this world stands on a precipice - some celebrate this constant whisper of skin to skin, and some seek to silence it forever. Enter Eleanor, a young woman with a strange power over Smoke and niece of the Lord Protector of England. Running from her uncle and home, she finds shelter in a New York theatre troupe. Then Nil, a thief hiding behind a self-effacing name. He's an orphan snatched from a jungle-home and suspects that a clue to his origins may lie hidden in the vaults of the mighty and newly-risen East India Company. And finally Thomas, one of the three people to release Smoke into the world. On a clandestine mission to India, he hopes to uncover the origins of Smoke and lay to rest his doubts about what he helped to unleash.