Title: The Smoke Thieves (The Smoke Thieves #1)
Author: Sally Green
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publication date: 03/05/18 (UK)
My rating: ★★★★☆
Looking for an entertaining, fast-paced book? You’ve just found it!
A princess, a traitor, a hunter and a thief. Four teenagers with the fate of the world in their hands. Four nations destined for conflict.
In Brigant, Princess Catherine prepares for a loveless political marriage arranged by her brutal and ambitious father. In Calidor, downtrodden servant March seeks revenge on the prince who betrayed his people. In Pitoria, feckless Edyon steals cheap baubles for cheaper thrills as he drifts from town to town. And in the barren northern territories, thirteen-year-old Tash is running for her life as she plays bait for the gruff demon hunter Gravell.
As alliances shift and shatter, and old certainties are overturned, our four heroes find their past lives transformed and their futures inextricably linked by the unpredictable tides of magic and war. Who will rise and who will fall? And who will claim the ultimate prize?
It took me three times to start this book. I started it on a train, I restarted it on a plane, and then I restarted it on my bed. I guess I couldn’t be moving if I wanted to read it. And I am so glad I stopped and let myself be swept away into a world of demons.
The Smoke Thieves is packed with action, likeable characters, and the right dose of romance. It’s told in five different perspectives, something I usually don’t enjoy but that in this particular book was very useful. It helped understand how Sally Green’s world is so different depending on the place you’re standing and it only added complexity to the plot. I was also very happy to meet every single one of the five main characters in such an intimate way. They are all extremely different from each other: there is a princess who has been underestimated her whole life but who’s finally finding her own voice, a soldier with amazing hair (Targaryen-style) who’s a fugitive wanted for doing the right thing, a thirteen-year-old demon hunter who sells demon smoke illegally so she can afford nice boots, a kleptomaniac boy who’s incapable of resisting beautiful eyes, and an orphan traitor with irresistibly beautiful eyes.
It’s impossible not to love Tash, the demon hunter who reminds me of Lyra from His Dark Materials, and it’s very improbable that you won’t like Catherine, the princess who is crushing the patriarchy gloriously. These fierce girls fight for what they want, be it boots or justice. You will want to know what’s going to happen to them (and the others) next but, let me warn you: you will not be happy about it.
There were many unnecessary deaths in this book, including the deaths of characters that still had a lot to add to the story. I think this is the only reason why The Smoke Thieves is being compared to Game of Thrones: there’s so much death you have no time to grieve. And, apparently, the characters are not allowed to grieve either. I felt like these deaths were rushed and barely felt by the characters to whom they meant the most to.
It doesn’t help that Sally Green’s writing (at least in this book) is so bland and straightforward. I was expecting something else, even though I’m not sure what. I believe this book would have been much better if it was written in a different way (I won’t say ‘by someone else’ because that’s cruel and I’m not that mean. I’m not!) However, Green’s writing only made the story flow like a river downstream, which makes this book perfect if you’re looking for a story that will satisfy your curiosity as fast it will make you impatient.
In the end, all the characters’ fates seem to intertwine like braids and you will be expecting the next book without even realising how much you really want it.
All in all, this is a gripping piece of fantasy that will look amazing when (not ‘if’) it’s adapted to the movie or tv screens.
** I would like to thank Penguin Children’s Books or sending me this beautiful proof copy of The Smoke Thieves. This is my honest opinion of the book. **