October 21, 2016

Review: Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge

Title: Bright Smoke, Cold Fire (Untitled #1)
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release date: September 27th 2016
Source: Edelweiss
Format: eARC

Rating: 3/5

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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. . . .

Inspired by Romeo and Juliet, Bright Smoke, Cold Fire is a darkly romantic and atmospheric fantasy from acclaimed author Rosamund Hodge. 

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire is a retelling or re-imagining of the story of Romeo and Juliet, and their story takes place in Viyara, the last living city in the world, after the Ruining destroyed the world centuries ago, with a fog that kills everyone in its path and turned them revenants (zombies), that´s why the survivors fled to Viyara, a city protected by magic, but it charges a price of blood.

"The Juliet" (as she´s known) is a girl born in the Catresou clan, daughter of the patriarc, whom from birth was tattooed with magical words in her body, she´s the sword of the Catresou, a person that´s is compel by magic to give justice to anyone that sheds the blood of her clan and once she turned seventeen years old the last magic word will be written in her body, one word that will tied her to her guardian, he will make the decisions for her and she will have to obey him. So when Romeo kills Tybalt, Juliet decides to make Romeo her guardian, because she doesn´t want that her future guardian - Paris - force her to kill him, but in the ritual something goes wrong...really wrong.

 Romeo is the son of the patriarch of the Mahyanai clan, he´s a swordsman, but he´s also a romantic that keeps reciting poems all the time.

The story is told from the POV of Paris and Runajo (aka Rosaline - the girl Romeo was in love before he met Juliet). Paris is part of the Catresou clan and he´s selected to the guardian of "The Juliet", but because of what happened between Juliet and Romeo in the ritual, he never gets to be and his path is intertwined with that of Romeo, meanwhile Runajo is a novice in the cloister of Viyara where all novices and religious make blood rituals to keep the magic that protects Viyara, but Runajo is convinced that the magic is failing and that if she doesn´t do something about it, the city will be consumed by the Ruining (is the white fog that makes people revenants aka zombies), and when her path crosses with Juliet, she believes that she can help her in her search for a solution to protect their city.

And as we get to know Romeo and Juliet through the eyes of Paris and Runajo, the Romeo we see him as a tragic person, easily falling into despair, weeping for the loss of his love and  he is slow to action. Meanwhile the Juliet we see is cold, distant or angry other occasions. Meanwhile Paris is an observer and likes to do the right thing, but without changing the teachings of his family, so his alliance with Romeo is not easy. And the character I least liked was Runajo, as she´s someone willing to do anything to achieve her goal, no matter whom she has to sacrifice.

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire like the previous books written by Rosamund Hodge tends to be dark and raw, it has a good idea for a post-apocalyptic world, but i don´t know if its due that this is a duology but I thing that the world was under develop, I didn't connect or was invested with the characters, perhaps because the story begins after the death of Tybalt, so the romance was nonlinear because we get so read at the beginning of certain chapters with flashbacks of the interactions between Romeo and Juliet seen from t her point of view. The pacing is slow and the chapters jump between Paris and Runajo, so it took me a time to be invested in the plot, but the pacing improves in the last chapters and it ends with a good cliffhanger and it hooked me to read the next book in the duology.


  1. I bought this book for its ingenuity. I don't mind "dark and raw", but I hope it doesn't make it less enjoyable as most of those novels tend to do.

  2. I read the first book she wrote, and I have to be honest I wasn't too impressed. And tbh 3 stars is not convincing enough to get me into this one. I think I'm gonna be on the fence with this one. Thanks for this review!