eARC Review: H.M. Long & Hall of Smoke

Hall of Smoke by H.M. Long is an incredible, epic-fantasy debut released by Titan Books on January 19th. Are you ready for an adventure? I really wanted to review this book for you sooner but got the eARC a couple of days before the publication date. Still, here I am, with a hyped Hall of Smoke review. The book was incredible when it comes to ideas and world-building. A true breath of fresh air!

I got a free ARC of the book through Netgalley, and all opinions are my own. If you haven’t put Hall of Smoke on your TBR yet, do it now!

Hall of Smoke: The Plot & World

H.M. Long introduces us to Hessa. She’s an Eangi, a priestess of the Goddess of War, Eang. She’s been raised like a worrier and wields the power of fire. Hessa’s destined to serve her goddess and tasked with the execution of an important mission. But when the time comes, she fails to do her mistress’ bidding and is stripped of her priesthood. While she’s on a quest to beg forgiveness and redemption, her people are slaughtered by an enemy people – the Algatt, worshipers of Gadr, God of the Mountain.

The rest is history, as they say. Hessa is thrust into a violent and unforgiving world of warring gods and hungry nations. Her goddess has abandoned her, her loved ones are dead and gone, and her only chance to reclaim the Long Sleep in the High Halls after she’s dead is to finish the task to kill a traveler. Along the way, she walks with immortals, fights demons, and finds the companionship of a man without a god, without a nation, a slave of the great Arpa empire.

But that traveler (Omaskat) she has to kill is more than meets the eye. While a pretend-god rises from its slumber to enslave the world, Omaskat seeks to wake his God – one of the original deities who existed before the divine imposters of the New and the Old World. Alone, captive, and desperate, Hessa struggles to survive the obstacles in her way and to make sure she fulfills her destiny as Omaskat’s killer.

Hall of Smoke: The Characters

Since this is an epic fantasy adventure, there are plenty of side characters to keep Hessa company. We meet Ogam, the trickster son of Eang and Winter, immortal, unlike his mother. He helps Hessa go back to the land of the Eangen people after she’s captured, sold in slavery, and lost again. But he’s got his own plans. We also meet Nisien, a slave-warrior of the Arpa Empire, who’s managed to free himself from his master but is rushing back to the fold again. An extraordinary Arpa soldier, Estavius, lends an unexpected hand at the direst of times. And in the end – Omaskat, the man with laughter in his eyes, who Hessa must kill.

And those are just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a whole cohort of deities and more minor characters. The book is not that long, just over 400 pages, and the cast wasn’t developed fully, in my opinion. But I don’t think that hurt the story a lot. And I’m sure you’ll find your favorites.

Should You Read It?

Definitely. My final rating is 4/5*. Hall of Smoke has an imaginative, rich world. H.M. Long’s writing is gorgeous, and you can really immerse yourself in her story. My major trouble with the book is that there’s too much questing, getting from point A to point B, without any significant development in between. And the ending felt a bit rushed and suddenly resolved around Hessa.

Still, there’s a lot of action and a ton of lore. I adore lore. It reminded me of J. R. R. Tolkien’s legendarium with a hue of The Poppy War. A real treat for the senses and the mind. And it’s standalone. There will be another book coming out, set in the world of Hall of Smoke, but it’s not a direct sequel. H.M. Long has given us the gift of a complete story.

Before I leave you with this new addition to your TBR, here are a few trigger warnings: there’s a bit of self-harm and quite a lot of gore along the way. After all, this is a bloody, Viking-inspired story. If you’re up for it, you’ll be happy to know there’s also a map and useful glossary thrown in.

I know it’s soon, but have you read the Hall of Smoke by H.M. Long already? Leave a comment down below and don’t forget to rate it yourself!

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Hall of Smoke by H.M. Long
I’m a copywriter by work, reader by heart, writer by night & a daydreamer all year round. I dabble in graphic design whenever time’s left. I breathe words and try to weave worlds.
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