A Vision in Smoke, by Allyson S. Barkley

louturnspages's review

Go to review page


If y’all have been around here for any length of time, you know my deep love for Allyson Barkley. She’s one of my favorite people on the planet for buddy reads, book chats/rants, and honestly, just to know. She’s also an insanely talented author in her own right, and it has been one of my greatest joys to get to beta read her second novel. I’ve been slow to review this one in part because my life has been insane over the past 6 months, and in part because this book is just so incredibly special to me that I’ve had a hard time putting it into words.

Let me start off by saying that Until the Stars are Dead was a beautiful debut-I absolutely loved Ari and Ely from the beginning (I’m still not so quietly shipping them over here), the world building was beautiful, and I was so bought into the heart of the story. But. A Vision in Smoke is even better. Seriously, Allyson is so gifted at creating vibrant, relatable characters. They aren’t perfect, they struggle, and you cheer and fight and ache for them all the way. I’m still a little mad about it actually—when I first read this book, I texted her after a character I didn’t even really like died because I was so bought into the story that I was sobbing.

In AVIS, we pick up with Ari and Ely in the next phase of their quest (and after a massive reveal at the end of book one). They’re tired, they’re struggling to hold to their identities in light of the shifting realities of the world as they know it, and honestly-they’re both dealing with some deep trauma from their pasts. They have to figure out whether or not to continue on their journey or to just pack it all in and hide away from the chaos that’s happening around them, and as a reader, you feel every moment of that struggle with them.

Obviously, I adore this book. I love this next phase of the story, and how it felt so congruent with book one but also had a totally different feel. The “task” from book one is already accomplished, and Ari and Ely have to figure out what’s next. Also, a large portion of this story takes place in an army camp, and it is so fantastic. Allyson introduces a host of new side characters whom I adore (and who bring with them some highly enjoyable snark), reintroduces some old ones, and dives deep into all of the ways their individual stories connect and intersect the overall plot.

The story is beautiful, the adventure is captivating, and I was so anxious reading it to see what choices the characters would make and how the story would unfold because of them. Read this book. You won’t regret it. All the Stars for this epic story, and so much excitement to see what happens next to Ari, Ely, Jagger and the rest of the UTSAD world.

goodeyreads's review

Go to review page



Full review to come!

_mkarys's review

Go to review page


This was one of my most awaited sequels of the year! I had the pleasure of reading A Memory of Light last year and it was such a great YA Fantasy read, and this book is no less amazing!

I loved seeing Ari, Jagger and Ely (my precious, darling Ely) again! I won’t lie, Ari and Ely have an amazing dynamic and would work as friends, too, but I can’t help myself. I ship them. The characters are amazing, but Ely has a special place in my heart. The fact that he’s willing to step aside and ignore his feelings in order for someone else’s happiness just does it for me. I make no mystery that he’s my favorite and that he deserves the world.

This book felt more emotional and played on my heartstrings. The cliffhanger broke me. However, I did find A Vision in Smoke to be slower in some parts compared to its predecessor, especially in the strategizing and training parts, which are usually the parts of fantasy stories that I prefer told in paragraphs rather than extensive scenes.

Overall, this was a solid sequel. I can’t wait to see how the series continues!

Thank you to the author for sending me an ebook. Opinions are my own!

_ckarys's review

Go to review page


After loving A Memory of Light last year, A VISION IN SMOKE was one of my most anticipated reads of 2022, and I was not disappointed! Coming back to this world and spending more time with Ari, Ely and Jagger felt like coming home. The book had as much high-stakes action as it predecessor, but the pacing was overall slower (in a positive sense) and the story more emotional (sometimes I was on the verge of tears). We spend more quality time with the characters, unraveling their pasts and diving deeper into their inner thoughts and feelings. I especially enjoyed Ari’s arc and watching her slowly open up, especially to Ely. Not too much, as is her way, but it’s a start! Will their relationship turn romantic? I hope so! But even if it doesn’t, I love the slow-budding trust and honesty of this grumpy/sunshine dynamic. The addition of new characters was also welcome. In particular, I adored Odaan, who was such a comic relief and as big an Ely simp as I am!

My only pickle—and this comes down 100% to personal preference—were the lengthy sections in war camps and councils. They were incredibly well written, but didn’t always have enough action to consistently keep my interest piqued. However, if you like reading about warfare in detail, you won’t be disappointed!

Now the agonizing wait for the next book begins, especially after that painful cliffhanger! My excitement is off the charts, and I can’t wait to see what the author has in store for the future. If you love YA fantasy like Throne of Glass (especially the first books with less romantic elements), don’t sleep on this series!

Thank you so much to the author for gifting me a copy. All opinions are my own.

briaravenuebooks's review

Go to review page


4.5 stars

“a vision in smoke,” the sequel to “a memory of light”, was truly a delightful and fast-paced read. this book starts right back up where the first one left off. ari, jagger, and ely have to safely transport their precious cargo to a new destination, the mythical and secret third army. the third army is supposed to be the answer to the civil war’s problem, a strong force that will bring peace to the world and restore power back to the earth instead of terrorizing oppressors. but even inspiring rebel armies cannot always be trusted to do the right thing, and even brave young women like ari are not sure they have what it takes to lead. filled with complex political intrigue, war meetings, friendship, and romance, this high fantasy book is sure to satisfy everyone who devoured “a memory of light” and leave them hungry for the next installment.

spoilers below!!

Spoiler okay, so i saw a few reviews on here saying that they liked the book but thought that the war council chapters/sections felt a bit slow. for me, an avid brandon sanderson and high fantasy reader, they were not too dense or slow at all. i actually enjoyed them because it helped me understand the world and characters better, and i felt that each war council had an important character moment in addition to worldbuilding/plot-expanding details. so if you’re into high fantasy typically, this probably won’t be a big issue for you.

the reason for dropping half a star for me was some of the side character relationships, and maybe this is petty, so i apologize lol. but because i ship ari and ely so hard, the side romance between ari and samorin felt a little flat and forced to me. this could have been the author’s design, and if so, then i apologize for not believing in you! but any time samorin was “on screen,” i rolled my eyes a bit. he was fine, nothing super wrong with him, but he and ari were just too similar and the romance seemed to come out of nowhere in my opinion. their interactions were a bit boring for me, and those were the scenes i found myself wanting to go faster, not the war councils.

still, all things considered, i think this book took all the good stuff from the first one and just magnified it. my heart was pounding during the end battle, and i loved all of the character arcs and development. ari admitting that ely is her friend and she cares about him was so sweet, and even dinar managed to charm me a bit by the end. i’m so looking forward to the next book, even though this one isn’t officially released yet!

thanks to the author for providing me an eARC in exchange for an honest review!