Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge

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*I read this in February 2017, reviewed in April. I read this as a hardcover. As always, this is my honest opinion.

I should probably start by saying that I hadn’t read Romeo and Juliet before reading Bright Smoke, Cold Fire. I read it about two weeks later, though, because school.

Summary:

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. . .

Needless to say, I probably enjoyed this book a lot more than I enjoyed Romeo and Juliet. I’ve spent my life avoiding R&J to the point that it was ridiculous. I was even hesitant to read this book, because I know how much the story of R&J irritates me, but this is Rosamund Hodge and I trust her.

This isn’t so much a retelling as inspired by. While of course there are elements of the original story, (because what’s R&J without star crossed lovers commiting suicide?) Bright Smoke takes on a different atmosphere and direction, and it was good. This novel is dark and gloomy and mysterious.

The characters in this novel are excellent. I loved Paris’ need for order and following rules, and I loved Romeo’s hopeless romantic train of though (never thought I’d say that). I loved the Juliet’s thought process, and I loved Runajo’s determination. The blend of these characters made this story feel more full than even the original.

Because this novel is atmospheric, the build up is slow, but like all of Rosamund Hodges’ books, it’s worth it, and you get into the story and need to know what happens next. I’m not sure how I feel about this being a series, but I am looking forward to the next book. I never thought I’d ship Romeo and Juliet, but I guess somethings do change.

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