ARC Review: Bright Smoke, Cold Fire

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire
Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Release date: September 27, 2016

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. . . .

If you loved Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, you would love this dystopic-fantasy-retelling of Romeo and Juliet in a zombie (well, revenants and necromancy) setting. Hodge creates a world where the families of Catresou and Mahyanai (Juliet’s and Romeo’s families respectively) fled to the island of Viyara centuries ago after a cataclysmic event. In Viyara, magic reigns supreme, but the world is devised such that there are different beliefs and ways the magic is considered and utilized. A big part of the storyline’s conflicts arise from these contradicting beliefs, which border on religion. The mystery of the book is in the plans of the necromancers, but also in the magic of the world. As the plot unfolds, a piece of each mythology is revealed, it is a big question as to whose belief was truly right. In life, sure, all of their magics hold true – the blood magic of the Cloister, the sigils of the Catresou, the lore of the Old Viyarans, and the wisdom of the Mahyanai, but the true unknown is what lies beyond Death. And this finding is what brings about the advancement of the plot.

While it is definitely a Romeo and Juliet retelling, the story is narrated from the perspectives of Paris Catresou and Mahyanai Runajo, kinsmen of our famous romantic couple. Before you go about imagining a potential romance, I must clarify that the two storylines are separate and barely intersect, but are woven into the tapestry of the world’s problems. The Juliet is a title rather than a name, a force of Justice, and she choses Romeo to be her husband and Guardian, rather than Paris – a decision that goes awry when the magic backfires and Juliet gets bound to Runajo while Paris and Romeo are bound to each other. Runajo is a force – she wants to save the city and the people in it, but she is like a cold goddess. Her empathy extends to not many people, and in Juliet she finds a similar struggle. Juliet, for her part, has been devoted to her family’s beliefs in a way that leaves no doubt, but she is a puppet who never dreamed to be much more. She, however, shows incredible strength and may I say, badassery as the protector of her people. Romeo is a bit dramatic (well, what did you expect?) but he is kind and big-hearted, who sees beyond what people are named. And finally, Paris – he grows a spine, questions his beliefs and finds a friend in Romeo.

Both sets of friends developed in such a beautiful way – they had so many difference in opinion, and while finding a common goal also formed a lasting bond with each other in a way that the other’s loss would cause them pain. The ending delivered some upheaval and some resolution. It throws in some threads for a future book, and doles out some pain too. Ultimately, I am interested in seeing how the two pairs converge.

Received a free galley from HarperTeen, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.

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2 thoughts on “ARC Review: Bright Smoke, Cold Fire

  1. Pingback: #TackleTBR Read-a-thon – Goals & Updates | YA on my Mind

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