Lady Smoke

Contains spoilers, see my review for Ash Princess
Lady Smoke
Ash Princess Book Two
Written by Laura Sebastian
Fantasy, Political, Romance
512 Pages
Published February 12th 2019
Thank you to Pan Macmillan
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The Kaiser murdered Theodosia's mother, the Fire Queen, when Theo was only six. He took her 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 defenceless. He didn't realise 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.
Theodosia has escaped her gilded confinement of the Kalovaxian empire, capturing Prinz Søren and reclaiming her throne from the totalitarian monarchy of the Kaiser. Freedom is momentary, infamous marauder Dragonsbane commanding her armada as Theodosia travels to the kingdom of Sta’Crivera. A treacherous journey fraught with uncertainty. Theodosia must conquer the Kalovaxian reign and although historically an Astrean Queen reigns alone, Theodosia is obligated to form an alliance, despite her reluctance to be betrothed.

Theodosia is a formidable young woman, enduring imprisonment, humiliation and enslavement. The Kalovaxian reign has decimated her country, Astrean Guardians were imprisoned and villagers bludgeoned, the Fire Queen extinguished as Theodosia comforted her mother during her final moments. Theodosia is unyielding and resilient, defiant when confronted with adversity. In Ash Princess, Theodosia portrayed a demure and despondent young woman, underestimated by the Kaiser, Theyn and Prinz Søren and despite the imprisoned young warrior leading the Kalovaxian military, Søren continues to remain captivated by the young Queen.

The kingdom of Sta’Crivera is opulent and extravagant, welcoming Queen Theodosia and her companions as she reluctantly entertains suitors to assure a military alliance for Astrea. Pretentious, arrogant and elderly suitors journey to Sta’Crivera, the King hosting banquets and receptions in an exhibition of extravagance. King Etristo is patronising and considers Theodosia as a juvenile and foolish girl incapable of the Astrean reign and on the threshold of securing an alliance, the Sta’Criveran palace is embroiled in an assassination.

Theodosia is a feminist challenging the archaic, patriarchal society. Theodosia considers the aspect of betrothal demeaning and primitive, challenging Etristo who has the audacity to suggest that women who have survived sexual abuse are tainted and inappropriately suggests Theodosia endure an examination to ensure her virginity. Among the suitors is Giosetta, an Empress from Vecturia identifying as being attracted to men and women, a wonderful inclusion proposing an alliance and platonic partnership with Theodosia.

Throughout her time in the ostentatious Empire, Theodosia and her advisers, Artemisia, Blaise and Heron, discover the refugee encampment, home to displaced communities including Astreans. The conditions are inhumane, the community is malnourished, the prosperity of the Sta’Criverans not extended to those seeking refuge. Laura Sebastian continues to encourage discussion and recognition of colonisation and displacement throughout her narratives, creative an environment resembling the experiences of refugee communities.

Beautifully written and wonderfully imagined, the Ash Princess series is exceptional. Inspired reading!


  1. This sounds like a great continuation of the series! Theodosia seems like such a strong character.

    1. She's amazing Tanya, I can't wait to see what you think of the series!

  2. I am always for a strong heroine, who is fighting for what she believes. Theo sounds like an incredible character, and it sounds like the author does a wonderful job incorporating current social issues into this world.

    1. She certainly does and it's refreshing to see how issues such as colonisation challenged in fantasy literature. Too often we see characters invading kingdoms or a monarchy who has conquered a country and no one ever mentions about those who are displaced and how languages and cultures are lost to colonisation. It was amazing and one of my favourite series.

  3. I am currently sitting here marvelling at how glorious and unabashedly badass Theo is.The author is taking on tough topics and doing them well -- very impressive.

    1. This series is absolutely brilliant Verushka, it's really set a new standard for young adult fantasy and dystopian. A feminist heroine, inclusiveness, diversity and breaking down the patriarchy. It's amazing!

  4. I still need to read the first book in this series but I've heard so many good things about it. Glad to hear the second book is just as good.


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