The sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller that was “made for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Sabaa Tahir” (Bustle), Lady Smoke is an epic new fantasy about a throne cruelly stolen and a girl who must fight to take it back for her people.
The Kaiser murdered Theodosia’s mother, the Fire Queen, when Theo was only six. He took Theo’s country and kept her prisoner, crowning her Ash Princess–a pet to toy with and humiliate for ten long years. That era has ended. The Kaiser thought his prisoner weak and defenseless. He didn’t realize that a sharp mind is the deadliest weapon.
Theo no longer wears a crown of ashes. She has taken back her rightful title, and a hostage–Prinz Soren. But her people remain enslaved under the Kaiser’s rule, and now she is thousands of miles away from them and her throne.
To get them back, she will need an army. Only, securing an army means she must trust her aunt, the dreaded pirate Dragonsbane. And according to Dragonsbane, an army can only be produced if Theo takes a husband. Something an Astrean Queen has never done.
Theo knows that freedom comes at a price, but she is determined to find a way to save her country without losing herself.
I received this book from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
Lady Smoke has two main problems for me – the first is that I couldn’t remember enough of Ash Princess! And the second is that not a lot happens in the first half of the book. Theo has very much felt like she’s finally free but back under guard and goes back to trying to figure out what to do next, how to test the limits put on her.
But once all that is over the book seriously picks up. I also love the frank discussion of how she’s expected to find a husband, and prove her virginity, and matriarchys, and so much. This book is jam packed with brutal honesty over the situation they are in. My favourite is a conversation between Theo and Art where Art is totally uninterested in gossiping about boys. Not that that’s exactly Theo’s intention, but Art’s response is pure gold. Those moments are utterly brilliant.
The action is pretty good too – from little things like sneaking out the palace, to the more involved scenes later on, they are well written and pacey, and play a good band to the politics involved in the situation without diminishing the tense atmosphere. I did want a little more on why the refugee camp is seen as it is by the people there, but I hope we get that in Ember Queen.
The whole suitor thing was interesting too – I liked that Theo always stuck to her stance, but was always thinking about how to change the situation she was in.
Overall, the second half is a very strong finish and has left me dying for Ember Queen, but the first was a little slow. 3.5 stars, but definitely worth it for the overall premise of the series which I am really enjoying and for the strong finish.
Buy Lady Smoke from Amazon UK.