Author: Laura Sebastian
Publication Date: February 5, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Delacorte Press
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.
Lady Smoke picks up right where Ash Princess left off, with Theodosia having escaped the Kaiser and taken back her rightful title as the Queen of Astrea plus a hostage that may or not be the beautiful Prinz Soren. Lady Smoke was honestly a very good follow up to Ash Princess but it didn’t wow me like I had anticipated unfortunately. There was just or two things that brought it down to 4 stars for me.
One thing I still absolutely love about this series is the epic world building. In Ash Princess we were mostly limited to seeing Theo being held prisoner by the Kaiser but in Lady Smoke we were able to see more of this bloody and brutal world. Lady Smoke starts off on a ship as Theo tries to put as much distance between herself and the Kaiser as possible. Joining forces with her Aunt, the formidable Dragonsbane, they come up with a plan to take back Astrea and defeat the Kaiser, only issue being they have no army to achieve this. According to Dragonsbane, the only way to secure an army is for Theo to essentially auction herself off to another Kingdom.
This is one of the gripes I have with this book. In Ash Princess we saw Theo go through so much pain, humiliation, and because of it all a lot of growth. She became this strong independent young woman who only wanted to make her mother proud and become the best Queen of Astrea she could be. This never required her to have a husband. In fact, it is even noted from Theo herself that there has NEVER been a Queen of Astrea that took a husband and like, why now? Why did three quarters of this book deal with Theo being auctioned off to the best suitor? Now with that being said, it was still incredibly interesting and entirely gripping to read. There was still mischief and mayhem plus some murders that turned into a ‘who dun it’ situation and I LOVED it. I’m just a little salty that most of this book was about Theo trying to find a husband 🙃
It’s not really a spoiler that the main trope of these books is the love triangle, and while it is a little predictable it is still entirely entertaining. Blaise and Soren are complete opposites and I love that Theo has absolutely no idea what to do with either of them. They are both just giant cinnamon rolls ambling around while also trying to figure out their own feelings.
Most of the action in this sequel is towards the end, but man does it pack a punch. There was more than one time I actually gasped aloud as I was listening to the audiobook at work and I am sure my coworkers were concerned with what was happening to me. No big deal, just going through an emotional trauma over here. I think this sequel set things up very well for Ember Queen, the final book in this series. I am so excited to see how everything plays out!