Review: Bright Smoke, Cold Fire



Goodreads Synopsis:

When the mysterious fog of the Ruining crept over the world, the living died and the dead rose. Only the walled city of Viyara was left untouched.

The heirs of the city’s most powerful—and warring—families, Mahyanai Romeo and Juliet Catresou share a love deeper than duty, honor, even life itself. But the magic laid on Juliet at birth compels her to punish the enemies of her clan—and Romeo has just killed her cousin Tybalt. Which means he must die.

Paris Catresou has always wanted to serve his family by guarding Juliet. But when his ward tries to escape her fate, magic goes terribly wrong—killing her and leaving Paris bound to Romeo. If he wants to discover the truth of what happened, Paris must delve deep into the city, ally with his worst enemy . . . and perhaps turn against his own clan.

Mahyanai Runajo just wants to protect her city—but she’s the only one who believes it’s in peril. In her desperate hunt for information, she accidentally pulls Juliet from the mouth of death—and finds herself bound to the bitter, angry girl. Runajo quickly discovers Juliet might be the one person who can help her recover the secret to saving Viyara.

Both pairs will find friendship where they least expect it. Both will find that Viyara holds more secrets and dangers than anyone ever expected. And outside the walls, death is waiting. . .

I really enjoyed Hodge’s Cruel Beauty, and liked Crimson Bound, so I came into this one expecting only good things. However, this was a hard one to get through.

I found the premise of this very original and I was so excited about it, especially when we find that our two POVs are not that of Romeo and Juliet. Unfortunately, this was boring. All the action is either in the background or over in a flash, leaving us only with brooding, plotting, and stuck in the Cloister with the Sisters of Thorn. I have to say Paris and Romeo were the much more interesting duo. Runajo should have been just as interesting, but I couldn’t find myself able to care about either she or Juliet. Likewise, Paris is pretty pathetic, and Romeo way too flowery for my taste, but at least their bond was something I enjoyed, and once Vai entered their story line instantly picked up. I feel like if these four would have intersected it would have been a more enjoyable read.

The necromancers and undead were supposed to give us much more excitement, tension, and terror than they did. And the city dynamics, and that of the Cloister were way too vague. This just didn’t come together for me. I can’t say if I am going to continue with this duo, we’ll have to see what the review look like.


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