Title: Smoke in the Sun
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Series: Flame in the Mist #2
Genre: Retellings, YA
Published: June 5th, 2018 (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
Synopsis: 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.
Another fabulous book from Renee Ahdieh! I really do love her writing style. It makes reading her books a wonderfully immersive experience.
After that twist at the end of Flame in the Mist, Mariko has lied to the Emperor that she was kidnapped by the Black Clan and held captive, deciding to go ahead with the wedding in order to help Okami. She finds herself at the Emperor’s court in Inako, plotting ways to rescue Okami while her wedding to Prince Raiden – and Okami’s execution – draws ever closer. Smoke in the Sun takes on a much more political tone, focusing on the intrigue and ever changing alliances in the court.
One thing I really liked was that the POV switched so often, and that there were so many. It added a lot of depth to the story. The Black Clan are not as present this time around, but Tsuneoki and Ranmaru’s backstory and friendship were very well portrayed. Raiden turned out to be a surprisingly complex character, becoming more likeable with every chapter. A+ for Mariko’s character development and also for Kenshin’s internal conflict between loyalty and what is right. Once again, the magic aspect really confused me, although it was interesting. It would have been nice to see more of the workings of the court as well. While everything was wrapped in a happy ending, it felt a little rushed, especially given the build up throughout the book. Overall, it was a delight to return to the world of feudal Japan and revisit my favourite characters!
Other reviews in this series: