This author is one of my favourites, so I definitely went into her new series with a lot of expectations!
Which, ya know…can backfire. So while I definitely enjoyed this one, it wasn’t everything I wanted it to be. Although that’s also because it’s a completely different genre to Half Bad! So I did show up expecting the jagged raw writing, the vulnerable and deep POV view of the characters, and…well tragic paranormal witches basically.
However The Smoke Thieves is epic fantasy and it really focuses on building a HUGE world and setting up a war. It’s absolutely so so very different. Which is actually quite cool that authors can be talented in more than one genre!
(Also I don’t usually review on Fridays !! as you might notice this unexpected GIFT I am giving us all. But I’m just that far behind with reading and reviews since I was kind of all tangled up in…that small thing…of my debut coming out. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ CATCH UP TIME.)
Thanks to Penguin Teen for the review-copy! And the purple-stained-edges ARC came from Illumicrate!
The story basically follows 934 narrators in a world on the brink of war.
There’s a TON of countries mentioned and it’s all woven together and connected into a world that’s luscious and dimensional! I’m not used to such big worlds in YA, so this was a pleasant surprise. Plus the countries had cultures and languages and mostly everyone hated each other so 10/10 for realism.
I did struggle with how freaking sexist it was. It was the point of one of the narratives of course. The villainous king and his country were absolutely rotten chauvinistic monsters. I will spit on them and then I will set them on fire, excuse me. They literally treat women like dirt and property…and it was so disgusting. While I get this was the point of the villainous country (and the book itself is not sexist! the narrative is!) and I loved seeing the women rise up in the end — I’m just really tired of books where women have to prove themselves as their plot line. All of the male plot lines just got a plot. The women had to prove they were, um, HUMAN, first.
There were a lot of narrators to! So let’s break it down, shall we?!
☆ Catherine: She’s a princess, doomed to an arrange marriage and viewed as property. She’s demure but in an insolent way?! Which I loved! Her arc is also glorious. CATHERINE, THE QUEEN WE DESERVE.
☆ Ambrose: He’s the guard in love with Catherine and so loyal/valiant that my eye started twitching. Seriously every time his chapters came up, I thought about hurtling myself into Mt. Doom.
☆ March: He’s a slave to a prince in a different country…and angry and swears and is Nathan 0.2 bless him. I obviously liked March a lot. He’s off to kidnap his prince’s illegitimate son and sell him off to the enemy.
☆ Edoyn: An actual wreck on legs, kleptomaniac and smooth little feckless onion that you kind of fall in love with even though he would probably hurt himself with a spoon. ACTUALLY MY FAVOURITE CHARACTER. I wish the whole book had been him ha. He also lowkey flirts with March every single waking minute and March gets so flustered. So adorable.
☆ Tash: A 13-year-old demon hunter who is a piece of work and will stab anything. Loves pretty shoes. I love her. I hope demons don’t eat her because she’s amazing.
I actually did feel quite affectionate for everyone! (APART FROM AMBROSE. GO AWAY.) But having so many narrators always makes a book feel slow because you have to differentiate between so many storylines right up front. I just don’t think we needed ALL the narrators. It was kind of the case of “omg we must see what everyone is thinking” but we really didn’t need to know what (AMBROSE) everyone was thinking.
The plot was kind of slow, but the characters did keep me interested!
Lots of walking. Lots of getting confused and nearly dying. Honestly that would be my aesthetic if I was in a fantasy realm too. I did like how everyone tied in with the demon smoke…I mean we have thieves and princesses and rebels and slaves — but they all connect with the demon smoke at the end.
I do wish I was writing a 100% gushy review for this but…it wasn’t exactly my favourite style of book! I did love the characters, even if I wasn’t super invested in the plot. I felt like the whole thing had SO much potential but could’ve just been more concise and fast-paced? I’m still very keen to read on and explore this world further!
A princess, a traitor, a hunter and a thief. Four teenagers with the fate of the world in their hands. Four nations destined for conflict.
In Brigant, Princess Catherine prepares for a loveless political marriage arranged by her brutal and ambitious father. In Calidor, downtrodden servant March seeks revenge on the prince who betrayed his people. In Pitoria, feckless Edyon steals cheap baubles for cheaper thrills as he drifts from town to town. And in the barren northern territories, thirteen-year-old Tash is running for her life as she plays bait for the gruff demon hunter Gravell.
As alliances shift and shatter, and old certainties are overturned, our four heroes find their past lives transformed and their futures inextricably linked by the unpredictable tides of magic and war. Who will rise and who will fall? And who will claim the ultimate prize?