Published: February 5th, 2019
Synopsis: After being abused in her own castle for ten years by her captor, the Kaiser, Theo finally escapes Astrea to seek an army and allies that will help her reclaim her kingdom.
I really enjoyed Ash Princess, but I didn’t have the time to reread it before reading Lady Smoke, which I now regret. There were characters and events that I had completely forgotten about, so I was definitely a little confused at times during Lady Smoke. I actually enjoyed Lady Smoke even more than Ash Princess!
This book starts off right where Ash Princess left off and it is all in Theo’s point of view. I really like Theo as a main character. It is interesting to see her thought process and how she works out decisions. I think she her really try to act as queen in this book was interesting because she knows what she wants, but she’s never been in this precarious position of power before.
I enjoyed seeing more of all the characters we were introduced to in the first book. Soren is my favorite among them and I loved hearing about him in this book. I also really enjoy Artemisia and Heron. Blaise is honestly one of my least favorite characters. To me, he seems like the stereotypical good guy, but he is just so uninteresting. Artemisia and Heron had things about them that I wanted to know more about, but I never felt that way about Blaise.
One thing I really like about this series is that it doesn’t shy away from the hard truths about invasion and occupation. The first book especially dealt with rape, but this one also deals with what happens to refugees. Unrelated to occupation, it also touches on societal norms and gender roles, specifically what roles women are “supposed” to play. Since Theo comes from a matriarchal kingdom, these “rules”, like women needing to be virgins before marriage and needing to be quiet and polite, are all new and weird to her. I love how this shows that these are really just societal constructs.
Magic is still not super present in this book, but it is definitely talked about more than it was in Ash Princess. I think it will be interesting to see where the magic goes and how it influences the series. I do love magic, but I don’t think the lack of it detracts from the story in any way.
One thing that I didn’t really like was the love triangle. It was presented in the first book, but it was constant throughout this one. I definitely know which side of the triangle I stand with, so having to be put through the “who will she choose?” phase again was annoying.
I think the ending was a good set up for what will be the final conflict in this series. There is still a lot that has to happen before the end. The series was originally said to be a trilogy, but now I keep seeing it advertised as a series rather than a trilogy, so there might be more than just three books. The title for the next (last?) book will be Ember Queen and it is set to be released in 2020!
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book! This is one of my favorite ongoing series at the moment, so I’m thrilled that I liked this addition to the series!