A review by louturnspages
A Vision in Smoke, by Allyson S. Barkley


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.