The Smoke Thieves (#1)
by Sally Green.
The Smoke Thieves is the first book in a new young adult fantasy series, featuring an ensemble cast of (you guessed it) young adults from different countries and walks of life, whose paths and fates converge in unexpected ways. You’ve got a princess, a thief, a demon hunter, a servant, and a soldier who all play important parts in events as kingdoms come to a clash in a new war. Their choices will affect not just their own lives (and hearts) but the course of nations.
This was an enjoyable read. This is definitely a fantasy series with more of a human motivation/political intrigue angle than and wizards-and-fireballs angle. The human side of the world is interesting in its own right, and then how the author worked demons and magic into it adds a twist I hadn’t really seen before. The characters you’re supposed to like are all likable/relatable enough. The villain(s) are clear from the get-go. Maybe a little too clear; I do like my villains to operate more in a gray area than just being outright vile, but it works for this book. The story has a good pace. It’s a nice mix of action, romance, intrigue, and introspection. As the author jumps around to different characters with each chapter, you get to see events converge from several angles, which I appreciate when done well (and this is).
It does have a few problems. Some of the “main” characters tended toward being a bit one-dimensional, while one of the secondary characters is actually (so far, to me) the most interesting character in the story. It’s got the dreaded YA love triangle. And I have some questions about the big reveal regarding the magical stuff; namely, how this is only now becoming known/an issue when its been around for centuries. (This vagueness is me attempting to avoid spoilers).
But overall, if you like fantasy intrigue and you’re looking for a somewhat unique and lighter YA read, give this a try. It just came out this week, and I’m already waiting for book 2.
I give it 3.5/5 stars.
I received an advanced reading copy (ARC) of this book from Penguin Random House First Reads in exchange for an honest review.
Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1) by Jay Kristoff. Girl’s family is killed. Girl narrowly escapes with her life. Girl ends up on the streets. Girl wants revenge, and is taken in by an old assassin and trained as his new protege in preparation for going to assassin school. Naturally. Then she has to find the school/temple of assassins, be admitted, learn all the things, and compete with her fellow trainees for a limited number of spots in the ranks of assassin proper. What could go wrong when you have a bunch of hormonal teenage assassins-in-training cooped up and pitted against […]
I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately (who, me?) and wanted to catch you up on some of the highlights. Here’s what I’ve enjoyed recently: Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye. A Gothic retelling of Jane Eyre, this novel follows the protagonist through similar life events: an uncaring aunt, abusive schoolmaster, refuge in a country house as a governess with a brooding master. There is one big difference, though – this Jane has escaped each horrid circumstance by killing her tormentor, leaving a trail of bodies behind her. Is she truly wicked, or a victim fighting back against cruelty? Will […]
The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch #1) by Rin Chupeco. Tea finds out her magic isn’t like the other witches in her family in a decisive and unexpected way: she inadvertently raises her brother from the dead. This marks her as a bone witch, with power over death rather than one of the more common elements. She’s apprenticed to an older bone witch and moves to a training house in the city, to learn control over her powers and the duties of an asha (a powerful warrior witch that also functions something like a geisha). Her brother (her familiar) accompanies […]
Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1) by Vic James. In this alternate England, magically-gifted aristocrats (Equals) rule the land, while ungifted commoners must serve 10 years as slaves. When in their life they serve those 10 years is up to them, but serve it they must. Not everyone is happy about this arrangement. The slavetowns are backbreaking and bleak, and it’s becoming more clear that being Skilled with magic is not the straight genetic shot everyone thought it was. Three young people find themselves in the midst, in different ways, of this political turmoil and magical hotbed. Luke, a teenage boy, […]
Raven Song (Inoki’s Game #1) by I.A. Ashcroft. A century from now, after widespread nuclear war, humanity is clinging to a few select cities, kept safe from radiation by their force field domes. Jackson is a legit businessman and less-legit smuggler, making ends meet and sailing through life. And it would be smooth sailing, except for some troubling dreams, hallucinations of extinct ravens, and his own finicky magic. Then a big government contract lands in his lap, and it’s too good to pass up. Except the cargo is not a thing, but a person. And she is definitely not normal, […]
Black Fall (The Black Year Saga #1) by D.J. Bodden. Jonas Black is your typical teenager- 16, with a girlfriend, school, and favorite playlists he can’t live without. Sure, he has a missing/dead father, and mother he barely sees, but no one is 100% normal, right? Then strange things start happening and he learns just how far from normal his family (and he) is. The world he thought he knew is really just the surface. Vampires, werewolves, ghosts, zombies, demons – they are all real, and dangerous. And, of course, all balanced in an ongoing political struggle for power and […]