Review of Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge

BrightSmokeColdFireBright Smoke, Cold Fire
By: Rosamund Hodge
Release Date: September 27th 2016
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

My Rating:

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. . .

My Thoughts:
Bright Smoke, Cold Fire was an adaptation/reworking of the play Romeo & Juliet. This has always been my favorite of Shakespeare’s so I was thrilled to have the chance to read it early. Immediately, I was captivated with how Hodge wove the original storyline into this fantasy story. The world was rather complicated and I’ll admit that at times I felt a tad lost trying to keep up with who went with which family, etc. This world is one in which there is only once city standing in a world surrounded by death caused by the Ruining. The dead are pretty much zombies.

From the original play, Paris was always, to me, a very sidelined character. He was always just the poor guy that Juliet was supposed to marry for the honor of her family. I was thrilled that he had a much larger role to play in this adaptation. And, he’s never a love interest for our Juliet. His role was so much more unique. I loved how his character struggled with his self-worth and confidence. He never felt self-assured or that he was really the person for the job. I can really relate to these self doubts so I was instantly sympathetic to his character. He was so realistic.

Juliet was a fierce warrior driven by duty to her family. I loved that she was actually nameless and Juliet was actually her position rather than her name. She was a bit harder to relate to because she hid herself so well to those around her. She had such a deep shell surrounding her true feelings it meant something to me that Romeo was able to find a crack in her surface armor. You might think that this book would be romantically driven. When I picked it up I thought it would be but it was far from that. Yes, romance drives the plot point but I wasn’t overly moved by the relationship between Juliet and Romeo. As with the original their love was new and rushed.

All of the other relationships were so much more moving for me. We have burgeoning friendships, partnerships and companions. I loved watching these characters warm up to each other and slowly open up. I found it to be the driving force in the novel for me.

We focus on multiple characters and their stories and only as things near the end do we really see how it all ties together and how later in the series things might converge. This book set up the story line so well that I can’t wait to see where things will go. I honestly have no clue what Hodge has in store. In this book alone I was surprised by at least a couple of twists that I didn’t see coming.

I think that some readers might find the world building a bit dense and might find it to be a bit slow in certain parts. Though I recognized these things I felt that it all built up to a wonderfully complex and interesting story and world that was worth the time to get a feel for the families, history and magic.


Final Thoughts:
Once again Rosamund Hodge has written a beautifully complex and original story. I loved how she wove elements of Romeo & Juliet into this story and yet made it completely new. I never knew exactly where the story was going and found myself surprised with the final events. The way this book left off I’m positive there will be a sequel and I can’t wait.


  1. Amelia Malory says

    I never read something written by Hodge, but this books seems really good. Also I’m really curious about the fact that Juliet is not actually her real name but a position in a rank. I want to know how things work and the family is constructed. I don’t care if it’s complicated. For me that’s always a good thing XD

  2. says

    Rosamund Hodge’s books have been hit or miss for me – the only one I’ve really enjoyed was Gilded Ashes (a novella) – so I’m really glad to see this positive review. This one seems like a really unique and well thought-out idea, so I may just have to give Hodge one more try. 🙂

  3. says

    I think I’m sold on this little guy based on your review. I always want to read something by Hodge but I always put it off for some reason even though I hear great things about her work a good chunk of the time.

  4. says

    Ooo, so glad you enjoyed this one, Kiersten! I REALLY enjoyed Rosamund’s debut, and really liked the second one. I’m hoping to give this a try, despite the slightly confusing synopsis. Great review!

  5. says

    Oooh nice! I loved Cruel Beauty by Hodge and STILL need to read Crimson Bound, but this is already on my list by default for my love of her first book! As long as it still has that same magic, spark or whatever you want to call it that her writing has, I am sure this (along with Crimson Bound) will be fast favorites! Great review!

  6. says

    I’m super excited about Bright Smoke, Cold Fire! First of all, like you, Romeo & Juliet is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays, so I’m looking forward to seeing how she plays on that. And second of all, it just sounds epic based on your review!

  7. says

    I’m actually not a huge fan of Romeo and Juliet, either the original or all the adaptations it has spawned. However, I do love Hodge’s other books, so I’m hoping that will make up for any initial distaste I have. Great review!

  8. says

    Lovely review sweetie 😀 So glad you liked this one. <3 I'm a bit unsure if I wish to read it or not.. but that cover is so awesome 😀 But ahhh, I'm sorry you didn't really care for the romance 🙁 That makes me a bit sad, lol. Yet still curious about this one 🙂 Thank you for sharing. <3 Hugs.

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