Review of “Lady Smoke” (Ash Princess #2) by Laura Sebastian

Sebastian, Laura. Lady Smoke. New York: Delacorte Press, 2019.

Hardcover | $18.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1524767105 | 496 pages | YA Fantasy

4.5 stars

Lady Smoke is somewhat better than its predecessor. While some of the flaws of the first book are still evident, mainly the somewhat forced love triangle, I feel like Laura Sebastian improves on the story by giving the story more depth overall. For example, while I would never make the mistake of calling this an overly political book in the sense some adult fantasy tends to be, I like that these elements are touched on, especially as Theodosia is considering an arranged marriage for the sake of helping her people and her cause.

As a result, while she does clearly still have feelings for both Soren and Blaise, and I still found the love triangle somewhat forced and awkward, I did like that it shattered the stereotype of YA love triangles, and focuses instead on Theodosia doing what she thinks is right for her cause, instead of brooding over which boy she likes better.

I also like that Sebastian is not afraid of shifting expectations regarding who the major threat is. The prior book and the beginning of this one suggests that it’s leading up to a confrontation with the Kaiser, in standard fantasy fashion. And while Sebastian embraces some other tropes in this series, particularly the lost heir fighting to reclaim her crown, I like that she worked to subvert our expectations regarding who the ultimate villain is.

This was a great sequel, and now I can’t wait to see what’s in store for book three. And I would recommend this series to other YA fantasy fans.

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