This review contains spoilers.
“This is the crossroads. Your future divides here. This is where you must choose a path. There is a journey, a difficult one to far lands and riches or” – and here she pointed to the cracked thigh bone – “to… pain, suffering, and death.”
Series: The Smoke Thieves
Published: 2018, by Viking Books.
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, LGBT, Medieval.
Contains: Strong Language, Violence, Torture, Death, Blood/Gore, Anger
‘The Smoke Thieves’ follows the lives of five young people from completely different worlds. Tash, a thirteen-year-old demon hunter, is desperate for demon smoke to buy her next pair of boots. Catherine, the princess of Brigant, is betrothed to the prince of Pitoria but her heart lies elsewhere. Ambrose, a member of the royal guard, is branded a traitor. Eydon, a thief, soon learns of his true – more powerful – identity. And March, a royal servant, overwhelmed with the need to avenge the death of his family. These five lives entwine as they discover the secrets of demon smoke, and seek it for five different reasons.
Anyone who knows me knows how much I adore anything written by Sally Green, so it was no surprise that this book was my most anticipated read of the year. However, I was also a little sceptical about starting it. I had such high hopes and was terrified of disappointment. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case at all.
‘The Smoke Thieves’ is a character driven novel, Green being incredibly ambitious in exploring five completely different characters in such a small amount of pages. However, she pulls it off brilliantly. Although, I didn’t particularly like Tash’s character as much as the others, her plot line drove the story, following her quest for demon smoke with great detail. Catherine’s character is a personal favourite, her development from being a reluctant princess into the leader of an army was beautiful to read. Although, her character appears to aim towards a dreaded love-triangle, her elegant personality shines through regardless.
However, the two characters I was most interested in were March and Eydon. Aside from their beautiful names, the development of their relationship was what led me to continue reading. Eydon’s journey to discovering his identity was a brilliant twist to his character. His background of theft and poverty suddenly turned upside down as he was informed of being royalty. His character may appear charming at times, having an immediate interest in March – who doesn’t return his affections – but his deeper insecurities are gradually revealed, making him a more well-rounded and complex character. March, however, developed differently. Overcome with revenge, he seeks to obey Eydon and lead him back to Calidor, only to betray him. But, as the pairs romantic interest in another grows, he begins to think otherwise. This plot-line is simply adorable. I loved reading their feelings for another develop, to the point where I hardly cared for the other protagonists. They’re such wonderful characters to read.
I love Sally Green’s writing style. It’s concise, entertaining and so easy to read. Her writing style flows, making her books such perfect summer reads. The narrative for each character was different, Catherine and Ambrose’s following a more formal route with professional-esque dialogue, while Eydon, Tash and March’s explored the dark world outside of palaces in more cacophonous language. However, this isn’t without fault. While exploring the lives of five characters, there is a lot to explain and expand on, meaning the pace suffers for it. This book was incredibly slow, enough for me to consider abandoning it at multiple points. However, the second half moved a lot faster, having gotten past the introductions and concentrated on the action.
Overall, this book was a brilliant read. Living up to its gorgeous cover, ‘The Smoke Thieves’ is such a unique and clever novel, with wonderful characters and a gripping plot. I can’t wait for the next instalment.
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