Monday, September 19, 2016

Me on Bright Smoke, Cold Fire

Title: Bright Smoke, Cold Fire
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Release Date: September 27, 2016
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins imprint)

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...

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire is haunting and deadly, a story covered in blood. It's a search for hidden truths, for justice, and for secrets powerful enough to kill for in a city that's slowly dying.

The four main characters are all different, all anchor the story in different ways. Juliet is hard, skilled. She's made to serve, made to kill. She's meant for one purpose: to enact justice on behalf of the Catresou family, to hand out punishment to those who've wronged them. Romeo is foolish and flighty, reckless. Falling in love with the Juliet was something no one expected. But after a childhood of being ignored, how could he become anything but bold with his affections? Runajo is hard, her heart now obsidian. She searches for the truth in belief, in sacrifice, and struggles to find any. Struggles to find anyone who feels the same. Who knows what she knows, that the city is crumbling. Paris is an innocent soldier in the Catresou family's army of clueless sons. He believes in the good of his family, even when they steal and murder right under his nose. Even when the commit forbidden acts. But he must do what he thinks is right.

The world-building was very interesting. The city of Viyara is made up of different peoples, different cultures, because of the fleeing that occurred as the fog of the Ruining swept across the land. There's a intriguing combination of cultures and customs, of rules and faith, of magic and honour. It's all very layered. The Lower City, the Sisters of Thorn, the Catresou and the Mahyanai, the Juliet and her Guardian. I could see the loose bonds that connect it to Shakespeare's original play, the tragic tale of two star-crossed lovers, but that's where it ends. Do not expect an exact copy. This world extends far beyond the play.

It took me some time to realize how involved this book was going to be, how much two groups could be searching and fighting, be looking for the same answers on different sides of the same coin and never come together. Knowing this is the first in a duology, I can understand the ending. The surprises. The resolutions. The secrets still hidden. But it still felt less like an ending and more like a pause, a breath to be taken before the rest of the story continues in the second book. I would like to know how it ends, what happens next, but the wait will be hard.

(I received an advance copy of this title from HarperCollins Canada.)

1 comment:

  1. This sounds really good! That cover always gets me but I thought this would just be a Romeo and Juliet retelling, but from your review it appears to be much more than that. Plus I like the ideas of 4 MC's, that could be hard to pull off but it seems to work here. Nice review!