Last Week on Inked Brownies

Review: Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge


Kindle Edition, 448 pages
Published September 27th, 2016 by Balzer + Bray

The previous book I’ve read by Rosamund Hodge, Crimson Bound, was a huge disappointment. You can read my crappy review of it HERE. Now, I’m all for second chances which is why I requested this book. I’m so glad that I did.
What’s funny is that a lot of people seem to have the exact opposite opinion on these books. The ones who absolutely loved Crimson Bound and Cruel Beauty seem to be very disappointed in this one. Maybe that’s why I liked it so much!


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. . . .
Inspired by Romeo and Juliet, Bright Smoke, Cold Fire is a darkly romantic and atmospheric fantasy.


Okay, I have absolutely zero Kindle notes to work with here, which says a lot really. So let me sum up some of the complaints I’ve come across on Goodreads instead, and counteract them with my own thoughts*:

1. “The story is confusing

The world building is very complex and yes, you need to use those brain cells to grasp the whole concept but isn’t that what you want from a Fantasy book? This has got to be the most unique world building and storyline I have come across in a while. Complex, but oh so creative and well thought out.

The world is dead, except for the city of Viyara which is protected by a magical wall that keeps the poisonous fog out. People still die in the city, but not by the hand of the Ruining (which is what the deadly fog is called). Outside that wall, the world is crawling with revenants, people who died in the fog but came back to life again a.k.a. ZOMBIES! If you die within the wall of Viyara, you will also turn into a zombie, but there’s the City Guard who takes care of that issue so there aren’t any zombie herd scenarios there. Except within the Sunken Library, an ancient place deep down in the cloister of the Sisters of the Thorn.

These Sisters keep the wall functioning by sacrificing blood to it. Their own blood, but also the blood of sacrifices every six months. The magic within the wall is fading, though; human blood isn’t enough and sacrifices are being demanded more often.

Runajo, one of the Sisters of the Thorn but a bit of a rebellious one, wants to find answers in the Sunken Library in the hope of learning how the magic of the wall really works since most knowledge on that has been lost. Yet, there are the revenants, thousands of them in the Library, which is why no one has set foot in it for a long time. Let alone returned from the trip afterwards…

There are three major clans in the city: the Catresou (which I can’t help but pronounce in French the whole time), the Mahyanai, and the old Viyarans. The Catresou and the Mahyanai are each other’s archnemeses. And because the story is loosely built on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, of course, the Romeo in the story is of the Mahyanai and the Juliet belongs to the Catresou. Which brings me to the second complaint on Goodreads.

2. “There’s instalove

Yeah, no, not really. There’s Romeo, a love fool who lives for love and writing poems, so it’s not a big surprise there that he falls for Juliet right away. Juliet is attracted to Romeo but with none of that ‘His rock hard abs made me shiver with excitement’/’The twinkle in his eyes made my heart flutter’ kind of nonsense. In fact, they’re both wearing masks, which makes it kind of hard to see someone’s eyes twinkle in the first place.

Apart from that, the actual romance aspect is very low key. There are two or three flashbacks maybe with some modest romance in it, but in general, it’s more about friendship than anything else. Which I think was GREAT!

3. “The story was boring

Ehm, have we even read the same book? I nearly fell out of bed when I was reading a particular zombie scene. And necromancers? And MURDER! Boring…pfft, if anything, this was the most exciting story I’ve read in a while. 

4. “The characters fell flat

Again, have we read the same book?! The Juliet is a power machine infused with magic (heh, anyone ever noticed the words machine and magic look kind of alike?) born to kick the shite out of the unjust! She’s dual wielding those revenants like there’s no tomorrow.

Runajo kicks ass in a different way, by remaining stubborn and showing the High Priestess some serious cojones. Paris and Romeo are adorable (and no, they aren’t gay/bisexual like some of the blurbs suggest).

The side characters aren’t always very distinct when it comes to their personalities but who cares, we’ve got four main characters to love already!

5. “The book is too lengthy

I wish it was longer so the story would’ve been wrapped up nicely.

And this is probably one of the rare points of criticism that I have myself here. I was not prepared for this to be a duology. I would’ve preferred it to be a stand alone and not end the story with a cliffhanger. This doesn’t mean I don’t look forward to reading the second book, though. I NEED to know what happens next!!


Zombies, Romeo and Juliet, no lovey-dovey shit, necromancers, awesome worldbuilding. Dark Fantasy. Hells to the yeah. Read this book.

(and speaking of zombies, who else is eagerly awaiting new episodes of The Walking Dead!? Don’t die Glenn!! Or Daryl!!)


Thanks to Harper Collins for providing me with a copy of the book via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest opinion!

*This is by no means an attack on those who didn’t like the book. I thought it was really fascinating to see so many opinions shifting along with my own one, albeit it being in the opposite direction.

Links to the book:

Amazon US
Amazon UK
The Book Depository (Dutch Retailer)

About Anne (231 Articles)
Dutch book reviewer who reviews in English. Grammar nazis beware!! I like brownies. And chamomile tea.

83 Comments on Review: Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge

  1. Kee The Reader // 29/09/2016 at 14:18 // Reply

    Rosamund Hogde is my favourite retellings author! And I’m so freaking glad you liked this! It’s on my list of books I hope to get for my birthday from my friends, because what are friends for?
    Awesome review.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think I gotta give Cruel Beauty a go then as well ;). Friends are all for presents, duh! XD I hope you won’t be one of the people who’s a Rosamund Hodge fan, but then end up hating this one!


  2. Megan @ bookslayerReads // 29/09/2016 at 14:19 // Reply

    What a fantastic review! I’ve been anticipating this one, so I’m really, really looking forward to reading it… and your review just made me even more anxious to get my hands on it! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kick a** review Anne! I added this one to my TBR a few months ago since I’ve been wanting to read a Rosemund Hodge book & wasn’t sure about Crimson Bound. Love me a rich & complex Fantasy world with an interesting magic system. These in my opinion make for the best told stories, reading this one soon 😉

    P.S. I feel like the season premiere of The Walking Dead will leave me destroyed that Sunday night, my husband will have to scrape me off the floor if there’s any hope of me going to work the following Monday or just functioning like a regular human being…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you!! ❤ Well, I thought Crimson Bound kinda sucked balls, even though it had a nice dark vibe to it. I’m curious to see if you’ll end up liking this one as well! I have no idea why so many people are complaining about it really, tuts.
      Hahahaha! I bet they open the new season with a filler episode :’). Which will still leave you lying destroyed on the floor ;).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yea from what I’ve gaged in the past, she seems to be an author whose books are either really loved or really hated (as you’ve mentioned). I’m still going to give this one a shot & see where I fall on the hate it or love it lol. I’m always game for a Rome/Juliet re-telling…well re-tellings PERIOD are my thang jeje. I’m not ready for TWD but I will show up promptly Sunday night to have my heart wrecked & walk away licking my wounds smh.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review Old Anne. 🙂

    Yeah, really looking forward to TWD, I don’t mind Glenn but I hope not but they better not kill off Darryl, oh hell no!!!!!! Shame carol isn’t there with them all as she does my head in! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Okay so I think it’s official. You’re my favourite book reviewer.
    You’re funny, and informative, but not spoilery, while still enticing.
    You win the internet!!! 🏆

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Welcome to the unpopular opinion club xD I don’t like or find meh books everyone loves and adores books others have deemed okay! It’s funnier this way!
    Hahaha, Catresou sounds so French indeed, my brain turned to French for it instantly. I’m not into zombies (scary scary things!!!) but I love the sound of this book, because it doesn’t look like a basic “I’m gonna eat you miam miam” story. Yep, only me will understand that comment… Anyway! Brilliant idea to take remarks from Goodreads to construct your review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad I made it!! \õ/ Hahaha, I’m glad it’s not me! 😀 Does it possibly mean something as well? Four something? Or just gibberish? Oh no, these zombies like to eat brains as well, but you don’t actually read about them doing it XD. Haha! Thank you! I didn’t know where else to start honestly 😉


  7. This is so interesting! I wonder what I’ll think about it, but I am sure I have never read anything like this.
    I have Cruel Beauty so I think I should give that one a go and see if I’ll like it. If yes, then maybe I should skip this?
    If not, I should definitely try it, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha, exactly!! 😀 If you’re lucky, you’ll end up with the right book for you right away. If not, you know it’ll be this one 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. rashthedoctor // 29/09/2016 at 17:06 // Reply

    fantastic review .

    not a real fan of cliffhanger endings really , it leads to huge anticipation for the next book which sometimes fails to live upto the expectations. But Sometimes it proves worth the wait .

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I need this book right now!!!! And I just might have enough brain cells to handle it.. not a hundred percent sure. May have to get back to you on that one 😉 But oh M G this sounds like my kind of read and it comes with four brownies. Clicking the Amazon link now! So I gotta go.. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I LOVE your review! I haven’t read this nor have I even heard of it before, but your review is awesome. ‘His rock hard abs made me shiver with excitement’ – GOLD. Made me laugh out loud – and that’s not easy 😀 I totally read ‘Catresou’ with a French pronounciation in my head as well. And of course I love the fact that a library plays an important role in the story. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I didn’t pay any attention to this book when it was available because all of the bloggers I have similar tastes to didn’t like the author’s other books. Here’s hoping it goes on ebook special sfter Christmas because I really want to read it now!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Rocking it again girl…😉
    I had a sense of dejavu or something I nearly wrote my serpent king review in this very format… But pussied out! 😂 Well done you and it sounds like a mega read! Will I ever get to read it though? Meh, going I to tbr pile anyway! 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Hahaha, I haven’t actually posted it on Goodreads yet…we’ll talk again after it went up if this was such a good idea XD. Yeah, just throw in on that mental pile XD. It’s what I do! And one day….!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Awesome review! I’ve seen some so-so reviews for Crimson Bound so I haven’t picked up anything by her yet. But zombies, necromancers, murder? Sounds like something I might like. Added to my TBR. Thanks for sharing!


  14. Well I like creative world building! (but it does sound a little complicated if I’m honest!) Absolutely love how you did this review and it sounds like I absolutely need to read it!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Wonderful review, Sausage Queen! 🙂 Were any sausages enjoyed while reading this book? 😂 I could totally see me reading this one. As soon as I saw that cover, I was like ooh magic. I just bought Cruel Beauty on a one day sale a few weeks ago. I’ve read so many bad reviews since. Go figure! No more impulse buys for me. 😂 This book sounds really good though. Zombies and magic yup I need it! I’m adding it to Goodreads now. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! flips nunchuck bratwursts Nah, I mostly read this right before going to bed. Yes, that says a lot about my sex life ;). The covers of Rosamund Hodge’s books are lovely! Haha! Well, you might end up liking Cruel Beauty. In which case you can totally skip this one ;).

      Liked by 1 person

      • LOL Way to go, Anne! 😂 Nothing is ever too personal for you. Speaking of that, once I get down to Florida on Sunday and unpack, I’ll have time to sit down and write up the questions for you. The last two weeks have been hell.

        Liked by 1 person

        • It’s a curse, really ;). Sure thing! Just sit down and take your time for it. Better than rushing it and regretting some of your answers later :’). I still need to get new ink for my printer for that Neil Gaiman picture as well!

          Liked by 1 person

  16. Ooh, four brownies! I knew I loved you!
    Yes, I’m excited to read this…but I’m a pushover for books like this.
    How come every time I see you, you’re flipping me off? 😂😂😂😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha! I’m expecting flowers soon! Oh, it’s not flipping off! It’s the national hand signal for “Give me back my brownie” in Dutch 😉


  17. Ha. I couldn’t stop laughing as I read your review. It was ace!

    I’ve yet to read any of Rosamund Hodge’s books but I’d definitely want to give them a try!

    Liked by 1 person

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