Bright Smoke, Cold Fire Advanced Review
Though Bright Smoke, Cold Fire is different than what I expected, it is a unique study.
As a Sister of the Thorn, Runajo is the only person who believes her city is in grave danger. No one believes her and no one seems willing to stand with her to ensure its safety. As she further investigates mysterious happenings within her order, she inadvertently pulls a girl named Juliet from death’s grip.
Juliet isn’t an ordinary girl; she’s THE Juliet, the protector of her clan.
Romeo is the man Juliet has lost her heart to. Because of rival gangs, happily ever after is beyond them.
Paris is the guardian of the Juliet, a man who feels responsible for her death.
These four people are about to uncover dangerous secrets where death lurks…
Although Rosamund Hodge’s novels have been in my TBR pile for awhile, until her upcoming novel, I’d not actually read a novel by the up-and-coming novelist. Something about this new novel immediately made me take notice, and as such, I was grateful to have an opportunity to read Bright Smoke, Cold Fire. When you step inside these pages, you encounter an array of content and emotions. Chief among which is the realization this isn’t what it seems. This isn’t a straight retelling and because of this, the author can play with variations we haven’t seen before.
Shakespeare isn’t a world I navigate easily because of the language. However, despite its tragedies, the Romeo and Juliet tale has always fascinated me. The recent Julian Fellowes’ adaptation, for instance, was a shining triumph that helped reinvent the story for a new era.
Bright Smoke, Cold Fire relies on the overall picture of the fated romance without actually being a retelling. In fact, this surprised me about the novel. It is almost entirely detached from all we know as familiar with the classic.
What took me by the greatest surprise was how separate everyone and everything is. The novel keeps the fated lovers apart for well over half of the page count, which is something of a puzzle. As a result, this novel veers away from being romantic in its atmosphere. In fact, the only scenes we experience the coupling of Romeo and Juliet are rare “flashback” scenes that thread throughout the novel. The focus is laser targeted on Runajo and Paris as the perspectives we live inside. Even at that, Runajo finds herself bound to Juliet (who is the first “pair” of the POV switch off) while Paris and Romeo team up in a “separate” quest. For me, this made the world and explanations hard to follow, but I’m also willing to concede this may be the result of a distracted reader.
The writing itself is poetic and lovely, and the ending, while coaxing a smile, also leaves us in a curious state wishing to know more. (Rosamund’s website does say this is the first of a duology.) I suspect if you’ve enjoyed Rosamund’s previous novels (Cruel Beauty, Crimson Bound), you’re sure to enjoy Bright Smoke, Cold Fire.
Bright Smoke, Cold Fire will be available September 27th wherever books are sold.
Aside from recommending whatever your favorite version of Romeo and Juliet is (the 2013 adaptation is romantic and pretty), a film adaptation would likely make for an excellent pairing with this particular book.
“Happiness in marriage is entirely a
matter of chance.”
Thanks to HarperCollins for the complimentary review copy of Bright Smoke, Cold Fire, sent for review consideration.Pin this article to read later! And make sure to follow us on Pinterest.