Lady Smoke (Ash Princess Trilogy #2) by Laura Sebastian
WARNING:This Review Contains Mild Spoilers for Ash Princess.
It’s always the true test of a series if the second book can live up to the expectation that you were left with when you finished the first book. Will it have the same voice? Will the characters grow with the story? What will happen? Do you even care what happens next? And when you do finally get your hands on a copy of that book you’ve been waiting on for months, or weeks, or even days (because let’s be honest, no one likes to wait…) but regardless of how long you’ve waited you still want it to bring you back to that feeling you were left with that has had your mind constantly reminding you, hey remember that book?? Because those are the books that are the good ones, the ones that keep us wondering what happens next? So after I finished Ash Princess last year and my mind of course couldn’t let me forget how I needed to find out what happens, I knew that Lady Smoke was going to be an easy decision to pick up and start reading it asap. And let me tell you, I was not let down! The wait was worth it. The voice is in fact, the same. The characters do grow with the story. And we do find out what happens next. I do care what happens in this story. At this point, I’m so involved with these characters and what they are doing that you might as well just sign me up for the third book now.. I’m hooked and I’m not afraid to admit it!
Lady Smoke begins right where Ash Princess ends, on the ship owned by none other than pirate Dragonsbane who also happens to be Theo’s aunt and Artemesia’s mother. Now that Queen Theodosia has escaped with her life, her shadows, and prince Soren as her prisoner, the next step is to build an army to finally put an end to the Kaiser and all he stands for. But Dragonsbane has other plans in mind and they don’t exactly line up with what Theo wants for her future. The question is, what is Theo willing to give up for her country? And how far will she go to save those who have been enslaved for too long?
I liked that in this book we see more of the damage that the Kaiser has done. We see how vast his cruelty has spread and how he has his claws in everywhere spreading his hate. It makes him out to be even more despicable than you could possibly imagine him to be at first. This puts things on a grander scale for us and for our characters, because now its not just little ol Theo trying to escape a castle. Now we are dealing with entire countries who live in fear and poverty because they have been conquered by the Kalovaxians and it will take a lot more than one small crew of barely adults to help save them all. But that doesn’t stop our MC. She is determined to do whatever it takes and still try and hold on to what she values while freeing her people and all those who have been crushed by the Kaiser she hates so much. I also can respect Theo because even through it all Soren is resigned to be her captive, knowing its true how his father has created so much death and destruction, and he is willing to shoulder it all for his love for Theo, but she won’t let him wallow in self pity. She stands by him and trusts him even though she is told not to at every turn. There is something to be said for her tenacity and her will to see the good in people through all the bad that to me makes her the Queen they all say she isn’t.
The love triangle does continue in this book as it was in the first. With a little more angst and tension, but to be honest, if I was in Theo’s position I wouldn’t know who to choose either! I feel like one boy represents her past, and the other her future. But both of them hold an important role in Theo’s life and she can’t do without either of them. And then to add to the mix, the idea of an arranged marriage for a kingdom’s army to help aid in her war with the Kaiser… She is just a mess of romance problems that I wouldn’t with on my worst enemy. I feel bad for the poor girl, she definitely has her work cut out for her. But I will say that even through all the craziness, it is well done. You don’t feel like she is making selfish decisions, but just dealing with the cards she’s been dealt and trying to make the best of one awful situation after the next.
There was a lot more in terms of action in this book too since now the Kaiser knows he’s been had. And he plans to get his revenge, and the heads of Theo and Soren, dead or alive. With a few crazy twists that I wasn’t expecting, it all comes to an epic battle and of course a cliffhanger to keep us crazy about this book until we can finally find out what happens in the last of the trilogy. I really enjoyed this one, I won’t say it was better than the first but it was definitely just as good as. I find myself liking how I can get into these books and fly through them in a matter of a couple days and still feel like I read something worth while and exciting. I love a good romance with my books and these have kept my heart pitter pattering, butterflies and all. I want these characters to succeed. I do care what happens! And I can’t wait for the next installment!
If you liked this book:
If you enjoyed Lady Smoke and you’re looking for another similar read, I suggest giving Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch a try! Both contain a magic system based around the elements and nature, and both have a love triangle that wont frustrate you to your wits end. I enjoyed the balance between the romance and the action in both of these books and think that this would be the perfect follow up while waiting for the third book in the Ash Princess trilogy to be published. And good news, the whole Snow Like Ashes trilogy is already out so no waiting involved!
Have you read this series? What do you think so far? Are you a fan of a love triangle, or is that the big red flag for you? I’d like to know what you think!!