Lady Smoke continues Theo’s journey to reclaim her kingdom as she filters out her enemies and figures out who is truly on her side.
Let me begin by saying I did like Lady Smoke. However, I felt like it fell into the trap most series’ do. When it comes to trilogies, it is often the second novel that makes or breaks a reader’s interest in continuing. Authors can start with a bang, but the second novel tends to falter, becoming more like filler.
That is the trap Lady Smoke fell into. Unlike the first novel, Ash Princess, which was more plot-driven, by taking to the sea, Lady Smoke is more character driven. Not much happens in the book, or that’s how it feels.
Lady Smoke is slow compared to its predecessor, making it a challenging read when you come down from the high stakes and tension of the first novel. However, Theo is navigating her new role as princess and hero, not captive. In some ways, she reminds me of Sansa, constantly used as a ploy in someone else’s plot but always watching, always learning. It is a chess game and one she is learning how to master. And that is why you’re reading, to see Theo grow and master the game, to become the hero her people need her to be.
Alongside Theo’s character development, we see more growth in the side characters. There wasn’t much character development for these characters in the first novel due to the structure, so this was the chance Sebastian needed to flush out these characters.
We learn more about Dragonsbane and Artemisia, Theo’s aunt and cousin. Dragonsbane may look like her mother, but her attitude and how she treats her niece show how bitter she has become. All her anger for her sister, for dying, for leaving their country undefended, has left her angry and resentful. Moreover, it is reflected in the way she treats her daughter. Artemisia lost her brother when they were both captured and put to work in the mines. Dragonsbane lost a son. As a result, their relationship is strained, leaving Artemisia hard around the edges. But she is eager to help her cousin; she is keen to bond with Theo.
Theo learns from both, shifting the characters’ dynamics and allowing for more character growth.
Lady Smoke is a good sequel, allowing for more character development. And even though the story’s pacing lacks and seems like filler, it is memorable and allows for a strong opening to the final act.
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|Pub Date: January 7, 2020||Page Count: 528pp||Age Range: 12 & Over|
|ISBN: 978-1-5247-6713-6||Publisher: Delacorte Press||List Price: $11.99|