cover image The Smoke Thieves

The Smoke Thieves

Sally Green. Viking, $18.99 (544p) ISBN 978-0-425-29021-7

In this first volume in a fantasy trilogy from the author of the Half Bad books, Princess Catherine of Brigant loves a soldier, Ambrose, but her tyrannical father, King Aloysius, insists that she marry Prince Tzsayn of Pitoria. Catherine knows that Aloysius has designs on his brother Thelonius%E2%80%99s kingdom of Calidor, but she%E2%80%99s uncertain how her nuptials factor into his scheme. Ambrose suspects that the king is plotting something nefarious, but since Aloysius recently executed Ambrose%E2%80%99s sister for treason, an investigation could prove deadly. Also in the mix are orphan Tash, who possesses an illicit substance that might be the key to defeating Aloysius, and Thelonius%E2%80%99s bastard son, Edyon. Edyon believes that March, a refugee, is taking him to meet his father; instead, March plans to sell Edyon to Aloysius. After a scattered start, Green%E2%80%99s latest finds its footing and will hold readers rapt until the harrowing conclusion. The romance is secondary to the action, and some of the supporting characters, especially the villains, lack dimension, but Catherine is a fully fleshed heroine whose storyline advocates self-empowerment and independent thought. Ages 14%E2%80%93up. Agent: Claire Wilson, Rogers, Coleridge & White. (May)