Review: Bright Smoke Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge

Review: Bright Smoke Cold Fire by Rosamund HodgeBright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge
on September 27th 2016
Genres: Retelling, Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 448
Source: Publisher
Buy: AmazonB&NBook DepositoryChapters !ndigo

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. . . .


So I actually went into this book not knowing (forgetting?) that this was a Romeo and Juliet retelling. It was pretty fun suddenly realizing “Oh hey! This guy doesn’t just have the name Romeo…he actually is!”. This Romeo and Juliet story definitely got an interesting twist. And while I liked the necromancy (zombiiieees!) incorporation, I also didn’t quite enjoy this as much as I thought I would?

So like the classic, we have a pair of starcrossed lovers. But than when Juliet dies…she comes back from the dead! The story is actually told from the point of view of Paris and Runajo in a kind of dystopian universe. We actually rarely see our starcrossed couple together, instead Juliet is paired off Runajo, and Romeo with Paris (note: and not by their own choices.) Each pair kind of end up with their own adventure.

Like I mentioned, it was an interesting twist, but for some reason the story didn’t quite grab me. I think it might have been because I wasn’t feeling too much of a connection with any of the characters. Also I found the universe to be a bit convoluted. I sorta lost what the point was…

“Do you know the history of Viyara?” she asked.

“Blood, blood, blood, and more blood,” said Juliet promptly. “With a little evisceration.”

But I could definitely see why people would really enjoy this book. Because I think the writing is really nice.  And there was still pretty funny moments.

For a while they sat in silence together. Then Juliet said quietly, “Romeo would love this place.”

Runajo thought of Romeo: sweet, enthusiastic, not terribly bright. (Dead.)

While I didn’t connect with the characters, I did find Romeo to pretty hilarious. He was just soooo dramatic and love-struck.


And actually that .5 of the 3.5 star rating is for the dynamic duo of Paris and Romeo. Paris is kind of wimpy and awkward and Romeo is so over the top, but yet, they made such an entertaining pair for me. Runajo and Juliet definitely were the more serious dramatic pair of the set.

Overall, while it didn’t blow me away, Bright Smoke Cold Fire was still an enjoyable read. There was high points and low points. Unfortunately this is not a stand-alone, sooooo be prepared for the cliffhanger. There was a slightly more side character, Vai, that I really liked, so hopefully there’s more of Vai in the next book.

“We came here for love,” Romeo said earnestly.

{*Thanks to HCC Frenzy for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

About Rosamund Hodge

I love mythology, Hello Kitty, and T. S. Eliot. I write YA fantasy that draws on two of those things. My next novel is BRIGHT SMOKE, COLD FIRE (9/27/16), the first book in a duology about Romeo and Juliet and necromancers.


Author: Cyn

noun. a bum OT, procrastinator. reader. eater. sleeper. music listen-er. movie go-er. Loves food too much.

7 Replies to “Review: Bright Smoke Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge”

  1. I decided to skip this one and I think I am glad I did. This authors books always sound so good but then I never end up liking them all that much. I am not a huge Romeo and Juliet fan and since you did like it as much as you though I would probably have liked it even less. Great review.

  2. I wasn’t a fan of this book, sadly. It was okay, but definitely not great, and not Hodge’s best work (in my opinion). Honestly her books have gone downhill for me, since Cruel Beauty (which I loved). I liked the R&J retelling aspect of this book, but I found this one so boring. :/ But I want to read book two, to see how things end. I must know!

    Great review, Cyn!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

  3. You are the second blogger this week to love one of her books. I must add them. I do enjoy retellings and this sounds lovely.

  4. oh I didn’t realize it was a retelling of Romeo and Juliet >.> curious…undead.. different.

  5. This is one I’ve wondering about for ages now and am relieved it’s a good read, even though it didn’t blow you away.

  6. I’m behind, but I so want to love this. Rosamund Hodge is one of my favorite writers so I’m crossing my fingers. I’m going in prepared at least knowing this is definitely a twisty tale.
    Undead…hmmm 🙂

  7. Ah, I feel you! I wanted to love this, but there was just so much going on, and I didn’t understand, and frankly, I was too bored to WANT to understand. Like, the concept was great, and a few of the characters (definitely Vai!!) made me keep reading, but overall, I was disconnected and apathetic. Great review!

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