Bright Smoke, Cold Fire

4.7 (2)
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Bright Smoke, Cold Fire
Age Range
Release Date
September 27, 2016
13: 9780062369413
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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. .

Editor reviews

2 reviews
Rich and Deceptive
Overall rating
Writing Style
Juliet has found love, and she has decided to do everything within her power to keep it, even though she is bound by magic to kill her lover because he killed one of her kin, Tybalt. In her attempt to defy the magic, things go awry and adventures begin that unwind intricate webs and dig up buried secrets. Through trying trials and new relationships, discoveries change the way you look at the world.

I love how the author twisted the story of Romeo and Juliet. Romeo is very much the same, but Juliet is not necessarily a person, instead she's a slave, (a race of special slaves, basically) who has no will (at least she's not supposed to, being a slave and all): The Juliet. She is not the first and won't be the last. It was creative and I definitely enjoyed how it was written!


The characters were good, but not great. I feel like they still need to be fleshed out. They had their voices and their certain traits, but they were also similar, or they were exaggerated in their quirks.

Juliet is loyal to her family, and she loves them despite what they did to her. She doesn't see it as a selfish act to control a bigger, darker plot. She sees it as a necessary sacrifice that she is determined to do right. Does it matter that she is not allowed to love, to have her own private thoughts? That she won't be able to control her own body, her actions? It's something she is willing to go through to make her family proud, to live up to her namesake. I felt for her. I was angry at the injustice she was served, and I was sad about how easily she accepted a fate she never had a choice in, one she never had to take. Hodge doesn't make her a docile, compliant little servant, however. Juliet is fierce, strong, and a force you want on your side. She kills and murders easily, grins at the enjoyment of it. It's what she lives for. But she's also cold and closed off, so while it feels like she's a strong, dimensional character and you're easily tricked into thinking she is, she's not. And I hope that it changes in the next book, because there's honestly so much room for her to grow. I can't wait!

Romeo seemed to be in the story merely to provide us with the whole two-lovers-separated concept. He cries and wallows in pity for quite some time, claiming to want to die if he can't have Juliet. That's to be expected, I mean it's Romeo and Juliet. The problem? Their separation uncovered all these little secret plans that form one huge problem about unleashing evil on the world, and Romeo knows that to help Juliet, to do something for her that's meaningful, he needs to uncover that dark plot and end it. So he tries. His part in it? Anything that could potentially get him killed because really, what's he needed for if Paris and others have a plan and Romeo doesn't have Juliet?

Paris is probably the most developed character in this book. He overcomes obstacles, learns to treasure friends, learns a sense of duty for something good and right, and he learns to fight for what he believes in. I'm definitely looking forward to more from his character.

Runajo is probably my favourite. She tries to be cold and unfeeling, but she has her flaws and those moments when all she can do is feel. She pushes through and stands tall, and I admire her strength.


The writing was lyrical and poetic, and I loved it! Though sometimes it overwhelmed me. With such flowery language, I didn't always grasp the meaning right away, which made my reading experience slower. Which isn't bad, because I definitely picked up on some more details because of it, but it did make me want to skim a few parts.


Is fantastic! I was easily immersed in the world, and I could understand their cultures and traditions. Their way was new to me and I didn't always agree with things people did, but I understood why and with everything so clear in my mind, I could focus more on the tension and mystery and adventure. It's a brilliant world and the author did a fantastic job with it!


Romance was a huge part of the story as it was what drove Romeo and Juliet to make their choices, but I didn't love it. I didn't get to fall in love with their romance because they were separated and only thought about why they want to die and what they would risk for their lives.


In this creative, promising tale with a rich and descriptive world, Hodge keeps you entertained and hopeful even when nothing goes right. Hodge is the lover who stabs you in the heart and twists, the one you could never hate despite all the pain they put you through.
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Hodge's best work yet
Overall rating
Writing Style
The city of Viyara is the only one still alive since the Ruining. Once the Ruining came, those who were dead rose again and slaughtered all who lived in their path. Mahyanai Romeo and Juliet Catresou are deeply in love, and in effort to save each other, they attempt magic to bind them together, which goes terribly wrong. Paris Catresou, who was supposed to be Juliet’s Guardian, ends up bound to Romeo, his worst enemy, instead. Mahyanai Runajo believes she knows a way to save the city with no more sacrifices, but everything goes wrong when she pulls Juliet from death. The pairs encounter more danger than ever expected as they try to save their city.

Retelling Romeo and Juliet in a unique and fresh way is a steep task, but Rosamund Hodge masterfully and magnificently does so in BRIGHT SMOKE, COLD FIRE. While Romeo and Juliet set the plot in motion, this story focuses on Paris and Runajo (the Roseline character). Paris has lived in the shadows of Tybalt and his own brother for all his life, but loyalty and bravery are deep in his soul, even if he doesn’t always know the direction to point them. Runajo is part of the Sisters of Thorn, a nun-like group sworn to protect the city through sacrifice and magic. While neither character meets, because of Romeo and Juliet (whom they are respectively paired with through magic gone wrong), both want to save the city. With brief glimpses of Romeo and Juliet’s history together periodically, the romance is minor in page count but just as epic as the original in emotion.

Perhaps what makes this version stand out from any other R&J retelling, beyond the character perspectives, is the friendship. Both pairs, Runajo and Juliet and Paris and Romeo, more or less despise the other in the beginning. Runajo guards herself with steel and bite, and Juliet has been told her whole life she is to fit one role: the bringer of justice for the Catresou clan. As the two find corruption and danger in the Sisters of Thorn, they form an unforgettable friendship. Paris believes Romeo has ruined Juliet, and Romeo is in despair from her supposed death. In many ways, both have held the role of underdog, but together, they prove a unique team to take down a surprising source of deception.

With a plot as cutting as a sword’s edge, friendships that run as deep as the blood in the streets, and a city where life and death are a breath apart, BRIGHT SMOKE, COLD FIRE is Hodge’s best work yet.
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