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.
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