RELEASE DATE: June 5th, 2018
AUTHOR: Renee Ahdieh
GENRE: Young-Adult, Fantasy, Historical-Fiction.
PUBLISHER: Hodder & Stoughton
After Okami is captured in the Jukai forest, Mariko has no choice – to rescue him, she must return to Inako and face the dangers that have been waiting for her in the Heian Castle. She tricks her brother, Kenshin, and betrothed, Raiden, into thinking she was being held by the Black Clan against her will, playing the part of the dutiful bride-to-be to infiltrate the emperor’s ranks and uncover the truth behind the betrayal that almost left her dead.
With the wedding plans already underway, Mariko pretends to be consumed with her upcoming nuptials, all the while using her royal standing to peel back the layers of lies and deception surrounding the imperial court. But each secret she unfurls gives way to the next, ensnaring Mariko and Okami in a political scheme that threatens their honor, their love and very the safety of the empire.
Ingenuity could be a weapon, in all its forms. Her mind could be a sword. Her voice could be an axe. Her anger could ignite a fire.
Smoke In The Sun is a final book in the Flame In The Mist duology. It is one of my highly anticipated books of this month, but sadly it didn’t meet my expectations. The story was really great but I actually expected more from this finale. There’s barely any action in the first half of the book and the ending felt very rushed, It seemed like the author written the last part in a hurry. If you’re expecting more Okami and Mariko romance then you’ll be disappointed because there’s not much romance in this book. This book focuses not only the main characters but also the side characters. Although It was a good conclusion, it wasn’t nearly as epic or spectacular as I had expected. Nonetheless, I did enjoyed reading it so I finally decided to give it a 3.5 stars.
The story picks up from where it was left off in the first book. In order to save his gang, Okami reveals his true identity and surrenders to the emperor. Mariko lies that she’s been held captive against her will by the black clan. Kenshin, and her betrothed Raiden don’t believe her words completely but they still takes her back to the Imperial Court in Inako. Okami is put in a prison cell and brutally tortured for the information on the remaining Black Clan members. To infiltrate the imperial court and to save Okami from death, Mariko decides to marry Prince Raiden even though she doesn’t want to. She post-pones Okami’s death sentence until her marriage. Before she becomes Raiden’s wife, Mariko needs to help Okami escape before it’s too late. As the new royal bride, Mariko soon discovers all the lies and deceptions surrounding the imperial Court and if she wants to survive among them, she needs to be strong and smart.
I enjoyed all the characters in this book. Besides Okami and Mariko, we get to know more about Prince Raiden and his mother Kanako, Yumi, Kenshin aka dragon Of kai, and Tsuneoki. I really liked getting to know each of these characters and their stories, but I wish this book was a bit longer because some of the stories felt incomplete after I finished it. Okami and Mariko are my favorite characters in this series. Mariko has grown into a strong fearless woman who’ll do anything to save her loved ones. On the other hand, Okami is ready to become a martyr to save his people, but Mariko tells him to not to give up hope and fight till the end. I seriously love this couple. It’s too bad there isn’t much romance in this book but I enjoyed their every interaction at the prison cell.
As for the other characters, Prince Raiden is an interesting character. He’s very protective and loyal to his younger brother Roku, the sovereign. He’s not ruthless like his brother but I’m not sure that I like him. Kanako, Raiden’s mother is a witch who wields some dark power which gives her the ability to manipulate minds. She’s powerful, smart, and cunning, but to be honest she doesn’t seem like a strong villain to me. I liked Yumi! She’s strong, stubborn, fearless, and totally kickass. I didn’t cared much about her in the first book, but after reading this book I wanted more of her. Kenshin is a complex character who’s a bit confused and doesn’t know whom to trust. After watching his love Amaya’s death he’s kinda in mourning. He’s quite loyal to his emperor and feels betrayed by her sister’s deceit. Although he acted like a jerk towards her, he still cared about her. Coming to Tsuneoki, the author didn’t gave much focus to him, but he did played a major part in the background. I was quite surprised when he revealed his deepest secret and I felt a bit sad for him.
The plot was good but it’s definitely not phenomenal. The first half is slow paced and nothing exciting happens except for Roku’s ruthless and violent tantrums. There’s no action from Okami because he’s stuck in a prison cell for most of the book. Mariko was busy playing political games in the court, and searching for ways to rescue Okami from his prison. This book was mostly focused on the characters development and less on the story. It’s like a brief intro of all the characters. To be honest, I really liked reading the book from multiple perspectives but the author should’ve made this finale into two parts. It really frustrated me when everything was rushed at the end and there’re so many questions left unanswered. The magical system was interesting especially the demonic beasts but we didn’t get a deep explanation about its background and how the magic worked. I loved the lush world building! It’s one of my favorite aspects of this series. Renee described every detail vividly with her lyrical writing style.
Overall, I liked it but I’m not satisfied with that ending and I want more. I’m sad that it was finally over because I don’t want this to end so soon. I wish there’s a spin off to this series. Anyways, I can’t wait to know what Renee has in store for us next.
I highly recommend this duology to all the readers who likes YA fantasy with Historical Japanese setting.
MY RATING:[3.5/5 Stars]