Lady Smoke is the second book in the Ash Princess Trilogy. For the review of the first book, Ash Princess, click here. This is a great continuation of the story but some of my opinions on this story could spoil the first one, so please don’t go any further if you haven’t read that one. No spoilers for this book, though.
First of all, I love Theodosia more all the time. Ash Princess had been the beginning of a complicated sort of coming of age story and that much just continues. She’s figuring out her next steps with conflicting opinions around her of what that should be and must continue to be careful. She’s no longer a queen pretending to be a scared girl for her captors but she still has to be careful of the way she is perceived. Now she is a queen to everyone around her, and there is a whole new set of expectations for how she must look and act while trying to take back her thrown.
I also love all the characters that we already had and some new friends too. As before Blaze and Soren break my heart a little in different ways. I actually adore this love triangle, which is unusual for me. Usually, I love one and can’t stand the other but I don’t envy Theo’s predicament in this case, especially given the premise of this book. She needs allies and neither of them can help her out there.
The expansion of the world beyond Astrea is marvelous. The other countries and their heads of state are interesting in their own ways. They not only provide a complicating set of hurdles for Theo to figure out but some are great new characters to enjoy. The world building here is even more impressive than that of the first book.
By the end, though, the twists and turns are beautiful and a surprising little thing happened that destroyed my expectations of the final book. I’m excited to be getting my hands on it soon. The final book is Ember Queen, and I have it only hold at my library since I first put this one on hold too. I have one person ahead of me waiting for it and hope to get it in the next month. In the mean time, I’ll be doing my best to keep the Read Harder Challenge progressing. I’ve actually already read and review 13 of the books so far this year and am listening to Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala for my natural disaster book now.