Book Review: Bright Smoke, Fire by Rosamund Hodge
ashley | Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge was a birthday gift by a friend who knows me well – marketed as a Romeo + Juliet retelling, I was super excited to see what Hodge would do with this, as I’ve heard she does some pretty inventive re-tellings in her other works. This was my first adventure into her world so I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Unique was an understatement. Hodge took the basis of the Romeo + Juliet story that we all know and turned it into something completely different. In fact, the events of Bright Smoke, Cold Fire don’t even take part during the Romeo + Juliet story line, it picks up just at the end of that tragic tale and moves forward, giving little flashbacks throughout the novel to the original work, but footed mostly in a whole new direction.
I actually really loved this aspect, I thought that concept was a great idea but I don’t think it was executed very well from the start. I found the first quarter of this book really convoluted and straight up confusing. I had no idea what was going on and that made me want to give up on the book more times than I’d like to admit.
It does eventually find its groove and things actually start moving, but there was just too much happening and no clear path to get from point a to point b, it just sort of seemed like there were a bunch of interesting ideas put together in the same book without anything tying them nicely together.
On the plus side, this wasn’t just an opportunity to exploit the Romeo and Juliet love story. Other than referencing the brief affair between them in the past, there really wasn’t much of a love story here at all. This was mostly a story of revenge and justice and trying to uncover a conspiracy and save the city.
All of that sounds good when you lay it out simply, but the story was anything but simple, the characters didn’t really stand out and most of them were kind of annoying, and honestly, I found parts of this just sort of dragged. I didn’t care how the story ended, as long as it ended soon.
I won’t write Hodge off entirely, I’ve read that some of her other retellings are much, much better. I was really excited for the concept of this, it seemed like such a great idea, but it just didn’t work for me.
september 27, 2016