Smoke in the Sun by Renée Ahdieh
Published by: G. P Putnam’s Son
Publication Date: June 5, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Historical
Page Count: 415
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The highly anticipated sequel to Flame in the Mist—an addictive, sumptuous finale that will leave readers breathless from the bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn.
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.
“Ours is a love stronger than fear and deeper than the sea”
I’ve been waiting to come back to this beautiful, rich, and detailed series. Renée combines fantasy, historical touches, and romance that will make her readers swoon. Smoke in the Sun doesn’t disappoint.
I’ve been putting off this review for awhile. Now, I’m still not sure if I can express the thoughts I feel about this book. When I started reading it, I was anticipating high action and deadly battles. And while we do see that more toward the end, Renée offers a story that creeps up on you, draws your attention, then attacks your every emotion. By the final book, I’m invested in these well fleshed out characters who I adore and who bring a different perspective to the novel.
Women who seem to play more of a background role are truly the hidden force and the backbone of the series. I’ve been craving a book where women will risk everything, even their own lives, to fight for a better world. And Renée beautifully illustrates that the power they have to offer.
The worldbuilding relies much more on court politics. And that is where Renée’s writing shines. Betrayals, deceptions, an unstable leader, and familial bonds intertwine to make a complex and layered storytelling. I wasn’t sure what to expect from one chapter to the next. And I loved living in the thrill of finding out. And I enjoyed how she spines her intricate tale. But her characters may just surpass her writing though. Each one adds to the depth of the story itself, and I can’t help but rave about them.
Mariko—who survived an assassination attempt, fell in love with the enemy, and outwitted even the Black Clan—is a well-developed main character. Along with persuading her betrothed and her brother, she must protect Okami and discover who wants her dead. I adore her development in Smoke. Sometimes, you need to read of a quiet yet forceful character who surprises you.
Okami, oh my heart, suffers so much. And yet his strength and determination are what make him an outstanding character. He doesn’t let the empire or the emperor break him. I thought I loved him in Flame, but I was wrong. I don’t always comment on secondary characters, yet I feel that they deserve at least a mention. Each one brings a new dynamic to the story.
I knew coming into this duology that I would want more sequels, more storylines, and frankly more everything. Yet Renée offers a satisfying conclusion to an already thrilling series. You need to read it.
“Our deepest truths are usually the hardest to conceal.”