ARC Review: Lady Smoke by Laura Sebastain

Title: Lady Smoke
(Ash Princess Trilogy #2)
Author: Laura Sebastian 
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Physical ARC via Publisher
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: February 5th 2019
Hardcover, 512 pages

The sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller that was "made for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Sabaa Tahir" ( Bustle ), Lady Smoke is an epic new fantasy about a throne cruelly stolen and a girl who must fight to take it back for her people. 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 darkly enchanting page-turner you won't be able to put down." --Bustle on Ash Princess, Book 1 in the Ash Princess series

“Friends, enemies, I don’t think it matters anymore. The chains are just as heavy, no matter who holds the key.”

I loved Ash Princess and the ending had left me hungry for more, so I was super excited when Delacorte sent me a copy of Lady Smoke in the mail for review. I didn't not like Lady Smoke, I enjoyed seeing some of my favorite characters and seeing what they are up too. But I didn't love this book as much as I hoped too. I see so many five star reviews for this one, so I can tell that I am already the black sheep. 

I think my biggest problem was that even though I do love these characters I couldn't connect with them on a personal level like I did in Ash Princess. In the first book I was super invested in Theo and Soren and Blaise and their quests. In Lady Smoke I was very bleh about my connection with them. To be brutally honest I really didn't care for the giant quest they had to go on. If I can't connect with characters I am going to have a hard time reading the book. I felt like I spent a majority of Lady Smoke dragging myself through the pages. 

I really didn't like the fact that Theo has to find a husband in order to defeat the Kaiser. I get that it is a plot point to the story can move forward. But #girlpower! (Plus, I ship Theo and Soren still so the whole "Theo having to find a husband that isn't Soren" wasn't my favorite thing in the world.)

“Still, there is something to be said about someone seeing your darkest parts and accepting you anyway.”

Overall I just really didn't love Lady Smoke as much as I hoped. It did end on a cliff hanger so I am slightly intrigued on what is going to happen next. I hope the conclusion for the Ash Princess trilogy is going to be just as kick ass and amazing as the first book was.  

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