Publisher: Delacorte Press
Published: February 5, 2019
Read as: US Hardcover
Average Goodreads rating: 4.2
My rating: 2.5
The Kaiser murdered Theodosia’s mother, the Fire Queen, when Theo was only six. He took Theo’s country and kept her prisoner, crowning her Ash Princess–a pet to toy with and humiliate for ten long years. That era has ended. The Kaiser thought his prisoner weak and defenseless. He didn’t realize that a sharp mind is the deadliest weapon.
Theo no longer wears a crown of ashes. She has taken back her rightful title, and a hostage–Prinz Soren. But her people remain enslaved under the Kaiser’s rule, and now she is thousands of miles away from them and her throne.
To get them back, she will need an army. Only, securing an army means she must trust her aunt, the dreaded pirate Dragonsbane. And according to Dragonsbane, an army can only be produced if Theo takes a husband. Something an Astrean Queen has never done.
Theo knows that freedom comes at a price, but she is determined to find a way to save her country without losing herself.
“A queen without a crown, without a throne, without a coronation. What, exactly, do you imagine you’re queen of?”
As you can see above, I rated this book 2.5/5 and that was being generous. So, all things considered, this is going to be more of a rant than anything else. SPOILERS WILL FOLLOW.
Did I warn you enough about spoilers? Did you get the point? Good. Moving on.
I had preordered this book and received it on release day back in February. When I read Ash Princess, the first book in this trilogy, I had genuinely enjoyed it. There was an engaging plot that had a lot of room to be built upon and several characters with room and opportunity for amazing growth. I cracked open Lady Smoke just a few days ago very much looking forward to see that building and growth.
What I got was more of a trash fire and I am pretty pissed.
Just glancing back at the notes I took while reading this book, the very first one is from about 14% into the book and states,
“None of these characters have the combined sense to fill a teaspoon. How are they all so dim witted.”
Folks, it didn’t get much better from there.
Theodosia has her freedom from the Kaiser and intends to start a war to take back her kingdom with the help of her long lost pirate aunt and the aid of a rich, prosperous kingdom in exchange for her hand in marriage. Sounds like this plot could be exciting and entertaining, right?
Instead you are treated to page after page after page of whining, selfishness, short sightedness, and such an utter lack of sense that it is dumbfounding.
Theo determinedly says on multiple occasions that she will do anything to help her people, how much they mean to her, and how much she wishes to free her kingdom from the Kaiser’s rule. Of course, there are some stipulations to that. She turns up her nose and doesn’t want to see the conditions they have been forced to live in as refugees in whatever the heck kingdom it is that she is husband shopping in. I don’t care enough to look it up, the name is unimportant as is Theodosia.
That should be a first clue, right? If your supposed queen doesn’t want to see her people living in poor conditions, merely wants to visit them and make internal comments on the smell before returning back to the cushy palace, maybe she isn’t the best queen for the job, hm? Oh, and heaven forbid one of her entourage tries to visit the people, understand their plights and troubles, and be seen as a beacon of hope because Theo is sure going to complain about that, too. So inconvenient, she could have been back to the non smelly palace by now. Oh no!
There are no reasonable quotes to pull from this book so all quotes are going to come from my personal notes I took while reading…
“Hey, someone is trying to kill me. I should sneak around alone in the middle of the night and get into elevators with strange men three times my size! I’m such a brilliant queen.” -Theo the dimwit
You think I’m kidding but I’m not kidding. There was an attack on her life, in front of a room absolutely full of people and guards, and what does her dumb butt do? Go meandering around a strange palace in the middle of the night, getting into an elevator alone with a stranger, just to go get her flirt on with someone in a dungeon. Give. Me. A. Break. Any woman who has been alive more than five minutes knows better than to get into an elevator alone with a man ESPECIALLY if that man is three times your size, it is the middle of the night, and there is someone trying to kill you. How utterly stupid can you be?
I hate Theodosia so much. Calls herself queen but she only serves herself. A good queen does what is right, not only what serves her personal interests.
This happens over and over and over again throughout this book. She only thinks of herself. Only serves her own interests. Above I pointed out her being a spoiled little brat about the refugees living in squaller but I have more examples to share with you! One of her court or entourage or whatever she calls it is mine sick. If you’ve read Ash Princess you know what that is but for those that don’t remember, it means that you have extraordinary powers that you can’t control and can kill everyone around you and yourself. The person with this affliction intelligently goes, “Hey, maybe I shouldn’t be around people.” What does Theo do? Make him stay with her because of sentimentality. They were friends as a children, he helped save her from the Kaiser, so of course she can’t use common sense. That would simply be beyond the scope of her limited intelligence.
My 2.5 stars is genuinely probably more than this book deserves but I did give it a few points for the ending. In a nutshell there is a big battle and Theo isn’t a complete idiot. It was so refreshing! Thinking back, the battle wasn’t even that interesting or well written but it was so nice to not listen to whining and poor decision making for a couple of chapters that it was like reading gold.
There is so much else I could put in this review like the miserably written love triangle, killing the only character with half a teaspoon of sense, pretending that Theo is a strong character and then allowing her to get walked all over, and the plot that held on with only the most tenuous of grasp but I think that you all get my point.
Theo is stupid, selfish, self centered, and childish. Her court are short sighted and shallow minded fools. My dog has more sense than these simple minded plebeians.