Published by Balzer + Bray on September 27, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Sexual Content: Kissing, vague references to sex scenes
Reviewed by: Kate
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. . .
Romeo and Juliet has never been my favorite. It's like teenage angst at its best, something which I'm not generally a fan of. BRIGHT SMOKE, COLD FIRE at least didn't have nearly as much angst as Romeo and Juliet, but it also wasn't an amazing story either. Hodge seemed to bite off a little more than she could chew, and the result was a scatterbrained story with zombies, magic, and tons of weird stuff going on.
I'm not 100% sure how to explain anything that happens in BRIGHT SMOKE, COLD FIRE without ruining it for a reader who might enjoy it. But I will say that it's just too much - there's too much of everything. The zombie storyline would have been fine by itself, but then Hodge threw in ghosts, and magic, and a bit of a dystopian society, and it all started to become too much. Romeo and Juliet and Zombies, as I've heard this book referred to in other reviews, doesn't really explain what goes on, because for the most part, the story takes place after Romeo and Juliet are separated, and the zombies unfortunately don't play that large a role. (This is saying something, because I'm not usually a fan of creatures that are like zombies.)
Some of the characters drove me nuts. Like Romeo, who was alternatively heartsick and practical - dude, make up your mind. I rather loved Mahyanai's one mindedness toward her plan - getting into the library beneath her convent, but that started to get old, and she wasn't part of the original Romeo and Juliet story to begin with, so I spent a lot of time trying to puzzle out who she would have been. At the end of the day, there weren't tons of likable characters. Even the secondary characters spent a lot of time just being pure evil or out to get one of the heroes or heroines. (I did like Vai a LOT though - if you read it, you'll see what I mean.)
Overall, BRIGHT SMOKE, COLD FIRE, was a disappointment to this huge Rosamund Hodge fan. Having loved her two previous books, I had much higher expectations for BRIGHT SMOKE, COLD FIRE, and this just didn't do it for me. I might stick around for book two, to see what happens, but it won't make my "most anticipated" list.
- Bright Smoke, Cold Fire