Title: Smoke in the Sun
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Published by: Hodder & Stoughton
Release date: 5th June 2018
For weeks, seventeen-year-old Mariko pretended to be a boy to infiltrate the notorious Black Clan and bring her would-be murderer to justice. She didn’t expect to find a place for herself among the group of fighters—a life of usefulness—and she certainly didn’t expect to fall in love. Now she heads to the imperial castle to resume a life she never wanted to save the boy she loves.
Ōkami has been captured, and his execution is a certainty. Mariko will do what she must to ensure his survival—even marry the sovereign’s brother, saying goodbye to a life with Ōkami forever.
As Mariko settles into her days at court—making both friends and enemies—and attempting Ōkami’s rescue at night, the secrets of the royal court begin to unravel as competing agendas collide. One arrow sets into motion a series of deadly events even the most powerful magic cannot contain. Mariko and Ōkami risk everything to right past wrongs and restore the honor of a kingdom thrown into chaos by a sudden war, hoping against hope that when the dust settles, they will find a way to be together.
Set against the backdrop of feudal Japan, Smoke in the Sun is the breathless, romantic, not-to-be-missed fiery conclusion to a spell-binding adventure.
After reading Flame in the Mist, I was so desperate to read the sequel that I went out immediately to get my copy ASAP. I really love the characters in these books, and the storyline was so engaging. But while I did enjoy Smoke in the Mist, I thought it didn’t quite live up to the love I have for the first book.
Smoke in the Sun was, I found, a bit slower in pace than Flame in the Mist — it sees Mariko agreeing to marry prince Raiden and becoming a part of the royal court in her efforts to rescue Okami from execution. I didn’t really mind the slower pace as I thought that it definitely worked better for this book, and I still found that I’d whizz through it whenever I picked it up for ‘just one chapter’ before bed (it was never just one chapter). I should also reiterate that I absolutely love Renee Ahdieh’s writing style, too, and I can never seem to put her books down!
There were a few points in the book, though, that could have led on to something great, but weren’t explored — the beginning of this book implied that Yumi, for instance, would have a bigger part in the storyline than she did, but I felt that she wasn’t in it enough, which is a shame because she’s a great character! I said in my review for Flame in the Mist that I hoped to get a better understanding of the magic system in this world or for it to be explored a little more in book 2, but though it was mentioned more often, it wasn’t as big a part of the story as I’d hoped.
Smoke in the Sun wrapped up the story pretty well, but I would have liked the ending to have lasted a little longer — it felt like everything was resolved a little too fast, and I don’t know if this was just me, but I wanted to know what happened to the rest of the characters at the end, too! Overall, I feel like this duology could have possibly benefitted from another book to flesh the story out a bit more. I adore the characters and this world and I wanted more!