Title: Bright Smoke, Cold Fire
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Series: Untitled #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling, Romance
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: September 27th, 2016
Pages: Kindle, 448
My Rating: 2.5 Stars
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 told in two perspectives of two simultaneous events that were happening. One is from the side of Runajo and Juliet, while the other is from the side of Paris and Romeo. I am usually a fan of dual perspectives, but for this one, I just hated it. I would have liked this book more if it were only told from the side of Paris and Romeo because I found that to be more interesting and badass. Also, I found that the alternating chapters just took away from the excitement that was currently happening, and it just disrupted the flow of the story.
I also thought that this book was excessively long for a story that is not yet complete, and there were certain things that didn’t need to be included. I think if this was only done in one perspective, then that could have been avoided. I also didn’t like the awkward chapters in the middle, which recounted the three nights that Romeo and Juliet spent together. And ugh, the ending didn’t feel like a proper ending because there were still so many things left unresolved. I mean, I get that this book is part of a series, but I just really didn’t think that that ending was enough.
All that aside, there is one thing that I love from this book though. Even though it was marketed as a Romeo and Juliet retelling, it focused on friendship rather than romance. Yes, there are snippets of romance here and there, but mostly it focused on how the friendship between Runajo and Juliet, and between Romeo and Paris developed. That’s something that’s not usually explored in books, especially in fantasy books such as this one.
I also liked how the topic of obedience and loyalty to family was explored. In this novel, it showed how blind loyalty and obedience can bring you harm. This novel shows that we can only be obedient and loyal to our families to a certain extent, because otherwise we would be blinded by all the horrible things that this is causing.
Finally, I really like the title and the cover of this book. The title is so paradoxical, and it just rolls off your tongue easily. It gets confusing, but it’s part of the charm. The book cover, on the other hand, is so cleverly crafted. I mean, it was love at first sight for me when I saw the cover, but after reading it and looking at the details, I feel like the creator really knew what the novel is about. Ahh, I just really admire the book cover!
Overall, I was disappointed in this book because I have loved all previous Rosamund Hodge books that I read, but there are still some qualities to salvage this book for me. I’m not sure if I will read the next book, but I would surely love to know what happens.