Review: Icon and Inferno by Marie Lu

Icon and Inferno by Marie Lu

Icon and Inferno (Stars and Smoke #2)
Marie Lu
Roaring Brook Press
Published June 4, 2024

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Icon and Inferno

Spies meet romance meet popstars in this thrilling follow up to Stars and Smoke by bestselling author Marie Lu.

A year has passed since superstar Winter and secret agent Sydney Cossette went undercover – on a dangerous mission to bring down the baddest man in London.

Winter hasn’t stopped thinking about Sydney since, and she’s been trying not to think about him

Family secrets and nasty newspapers has Winter desperate to re-enter the secret world. And it’s not long before he gets his chance.

Sydney is back, and this time the mission goes right to the heart of the United States of America. A rescue gone wrong, an assassination attempt – and the return of an old flame – puts Winter right back into the action . . . and into a country on the brink of chaos.

And when a murder accusation has Sydney on the run, suddenly it’s not just a life at stake, but all-out war.

Icon and Inferno on Goodreads

My Review

Winter and Sydney are back, and I am so excited! Stars and Smoke, the first book in the series, swept me away with its romance and danger. I knew I’d be back for more. I love the contrast between these two characters. When he’s with people he trusts, Winter is wide open with his heart totally available. Sydney, however, never opens herself that way. That kind of vulnerability terrifies her, which makes sense for someone with a life as a secret agent. For her, letting people in is literally dangerous.

The story begins with a bit of miscommunication or maybe bad assumptions between Winter and Sydney, where she thinks he’s seeing someone and is disappointed but trying not to show it. And he’s hurt that she’s not disappointed, etc. It’s not my favorite romance trope, but the story doesn’t lean into it too heavily since the romantic tension between Sydney and Winter is secondary to their assignment from Panacea.

I like that the task gets layered with complications, though. Winter has to manage the expectations of his ex, whom he invited to a social event as his date. Sydney must find and rescue her own ex, the guy who ended their last tryst by stealing her passport and stranding her overseas. So, yeah, she’s really looking forward to that. Mr. To-Be-Rescued has his own agenda as well, and Sydney and Winter have to decide whether to listen to him or stick with the original plan.

One thing I absolutely loved is the way the story uses Winter’s fame to achieve objectives in his work as a secret agent. It seems like being internationally celebrated and recognized would be a setback for someone on a secret mission, but he makes it work. I love how he uses his position as an asset for Panacea on their missions.


I think even more than the first book, Icon and Inferno leans more into adult fiction. The characters have full-time careers. They’ve had adult relationships. They have adult independence. It’s marketed as YA, and I think will have a fair amount of crossover appeal. Fans of Chloe Gong’s Foul Lady Fortune will enjoy this.

Icon and Inferno on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 16 up.

Winter is Chinese American and has had romantic relationships with boys and girls in the past.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Strong profanity used pretty infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
References to a past relationship Winter was in, in which he slept with his partner. Same for Sydney. Kissing between boy and girl. In a couple of scenes, the characters kiss and undress. One vaguely references a sexual encounter.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
Situations of peril. Sydney and Winter witness someone killed by a gunshot and explosion. A couple of scenes involve a high-speed car or motorcycle chase. Someone points a gun at another person’s head. Someone injects a drug into another person, knocking them out.

Drug Content
References to Winter’s dad smoking cigars.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use but help support this blog. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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