TITLE: Bright Smoke Cold Fire
AUTHOR: Rosamund Hodge
PUBLISHING: Balzer + Bray
RELEASE DATE: September 27th 2016
GENRE(S): FANTASY, YOUNG ADULT, Retellings, Romance
STAR RATING: 3 ∗∗∗
“MOVIE” RATING: PG-13
My journey with this book began with the instant fascination and intrigue that this was going to be a type of retelling. I am a sucker for retellings and always love to see what other people twist the original story into and create a whole new understanding for the book. Not only was this going to be a retelling but it also was one about the classical story we all know [and seem to always have a love/hate relationship with]; Romeo and Juliet. Except this time, it takes place in a fantasy world along with magic and powers. I was drawn in by all these factors and I couldn’t help but be completely ecstatic for this book to drop into my hands and read from its pages.
The story follows Mahyanai Romeo, Juliet Catresou, Paris Catresou, and Mahyanai Runajo. They each come from opposite families (Mahyanai and Catresou) or clans, much like Shakespeare’s version. Each ends up being bonded with another of the opposite clan. The Mahyanai and the Catresou obviously are from completely different backgrounds and seem to hate one another. Maybe I missed that part in the book but I have absolutely no idea why. At any rate, Romeo and Paris are paired up as well as Runajo and Juliet. They need to work together in order to find justice, peace, and find the answers to the many mysteries surrounding their city, Viyara. I should tell you that this book is not a gay/lesbian/bisexual novel. Yes, these people are paired up, but the only relationship found between the pairs is friendship and a somewhat deep understanding of one another.
I really enjoyed trying to figure out this world that Rosamund Hodge created here. I appreciate the obvious thoughts and effort placed within books with other worlds, such as this one, because it does take a lot of cups of creative juice. Another detail I loved about this book is the lovely cover art. Not only is it pretty and neat, but it also communicates the mystery that this book holds, the reasoning for the ritual that must be taking place, and more mystery as my husband fondly referred to this book (while I was reading it) as my KKK book. This is of course not the case people!
This being said, I only gave this book three stars. I feel that even three stars is too generous almost… This makes me feel so regretful in writing this review because I had so many high hopes with this novel. Like I said at the beginning of this review, I couldn’t wait for this to be released and be able to read it myself. Yet, I found many frustrating factors in this novel that were glaring and I couldn’t ignore.
The first was that every chapter is by a different pair of people. One might be with Paris and Romeo and the next would be with Runajo and Juliet. Normally I can handle this sort of narration and follow the story easily enough. However, every time I came upon a new chapter, I had to almost flip back and remember what was happening with the previous pair or take many minutes trying to recognize the story again. This. Was. Completely. Frustrating. There are many chapters in this book which made it even more difficult to read simply because I had to repeat my endeavors every few pages.
Secondly, partly because of this flipping back and forth or trying to keep up with each story/pair, the book began to grow dull and boring in many places. It has taken me longer to read this than other books I’ve read in the past few months and I noticed that I was never excited to pick it up again and continue reading. I even began and finished two other books before completing this novel.
I will mention something that I especially thought was interesting. Usually when I pick up a book, it’s usually a young adult romance book or historical fiction. I found that this book helped to expand the genre of books that I generally would not just naturally pick up. This and the fact that the novel was SO dark! It was fun to read, knowing that it was a dark read with a sprinkling of romance in it. These two factors made it very neat for me to read and get to know the characters a little. Not to mention the world itself was incredible and just so creative! (Or did I mention that before?)
Overall, I’m not sure that I will continue with this series. It is only a duology, so maybe I will read it if I hear better reviews or I don’t really have much else to read. This was a difficult to read to get through and understand and it took me quite a while for me to get into it as well as catch up to each chapter change. Though I admire the dark world that has been created, the characters seem whiny and need more growth it seems. I’ve heard wonderful things about the other series by this author and I will look into reading them sometime in the future.
I received this book in exchange for an honest review from SocialBookCo.
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ABOUT Rosamund Hodge:
I love mythology, Hello Kitty, and T. S. Eliot. I write YA fantasy that draws on two of those things. My next novel is BRIGHT SMOKE, COLD FIRE (9/27/16), the first book in a duology about Romeo and Juliet and necromancers.