Book review – The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green

Caidyn's review (1)

The Smoke Thieves (The Smoke Thieves, #1)


CW: sexism, creepy brother, war, violent torture/execution scene, and death of a loved one

I’m very conflicted about this book.

On one hand, it was good with decent characters and it honestly felt like a YA version of Game of Thrones. On the other hand… well, I’ll get to that in a second. My rating reflects that I did really enjoy reading this book.

This book takes place in a fictional world. Two main countries are in this story, although there are more. I’m just going to touch on the two big ones that feature the most in the story

  • Brigand: a conquering world led by a very sexist king.
  • Pitoria: more peaceful and open to women leading/being independent.

There are five main characters, all of which belong to one of these countries.

  • Catherine: daughter of the sexist king, about to be married to the heir of Pitoria. Very smart and suffers at the hand of her sexist male family members.
  • Ambrose: Catherine’s guard. At the beginning of the book, his sister is executed.
  • Tash: a 13-year-old demon hunter who lives in Pitoria. She’s sassy, resourceful, and a delight
  • March: originally from one of the lands Brigand conquered and currently works as a servant in the palace, but he’s been radicalized; also is a POC character
  • Edyon: bastard son of a merchant-woman who is a bit of a kleptomaniac and is also queer.

Each character has chapters and you see the story from their perspective. As I said, it’s like Game of Thrones. I’ve only read the first book and never watched the TV show, but I remember the book. All these perspectives and you’re wondering why the hell they’re important and getting space on the page. Slowly, you watch as the plot expands and you see all the pieces fitting into place about these characters.

It’s like that in this book.

You don’t quite know what’s going on and why these things are important, but as the story goes on you get there. I found it clever and I liked fitting the pieces together.

However, I still prefer books with fewer perspectives. My favorite was Catherine. I loved watching her grow and come into her own in this new kingdom (kinda like Dany, right?) as the story went on. To me, she’s the real winner in this story. I only care about her and Tash. (Tash because she’s a cute kid and I love sassy characters.)

This leads me to the stuff IĀ didn’t like. The author is a white woman and, admittedly, it read like a white woman wrote this. Aka, there was a queer character and a POC character who might be queer, but it was never stated outright. Not once. It was mentioned that March had darker skin, but that’s it. There’s never a show of subtle racism or prejudice against him coming from a different country. And in the Brigand world, that was hard to believe. Then, there’s Edyon, the solidly queer character. Yet, it’s never mentioned that he definitely is queer.

Plus, when I was getting the pictures and stuff for this review, I found Percy’s review saying that he won’t read it and has the author blacklisted because the author has a history of queerbaiting and using the bury your gays trope. (Link will take you to his review where he discusses her book where she does it.) Which is disappointing and, honestly, I can tell that the author didn’t quite learn from that.

And that really ruined the book for me. I was excited to keep reading since the book comes out in early August. But now? I’m hesitant. I might give it a try, but knowing that about the author and that she hasn’t learned too much makes me hesitant to read more.

Talk to me!
Have you read this? What did you think?
What author actions make you stop reading them?