Thursday, October 13, 2016

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge

Title: Bright Smoke, Cold Fire
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy
Source: Balzer + Bray via Edelweiss

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. . .
Review by Nara

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire was weaker than Hodge's two other novels, and I think that might be because it is dual POV rather than the single POV found in her other books. I just didn't feel like I was quite as connected to the protagonists. In regards to our secondary characters, maybe there's a bit of instalove in there, but I can't really criticise that because the book is based on Romeo and Juliet, which is the very archetype of instalove.

Hodge's writing is still as gorgeous as ever, with the same dark tone that's found in Cruel Beauty and Crimson Bound. I definitely feel like her writing style is well suited to this type of twisted high fantasy retelling. Her imagery is stunning and just the way she weaves certain phrases is just so dang beautiful.

The world building was also fantastic overall, but I found the first quarter or so very difficult to keep track of. There were so many new concepts thrown at you without giving you time to gather your thoughts. The concepts were quite brilliant, from the dark twist on what the "Juliet" represents, and the necromancy and the interesting clan system, but it was all too much to infodump this at the same time. As we got less world building towards the middle of the novel, it was easier to understand what was going on.

Overall, despite the mass of information we got at the start of the novel, as I kept reading, the book continued to improve. I'm sure that the sequel (and finale) will be just as good, if not better.

Really liked it
Overall: 8/10
Plot: 4/5
Romance: 3.5/5
Writing: 5/5
World Building: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 5/5