Format: Hardcover, 432 pages
Release Date: June 5, 2018
Publisher: G.P. Putnam Sons
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy
The highly anticipated sequel to New York Times bestselling 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 the very safety of the empire.
Smoke in the Sun, by author Renee Ahdieh, is the second installment in the author's Flame in the Mist duology. The story picks up right where the previous book left off. Set against the backdrop of feudal Japan, Smoke in the Sun is the breathless, not-to-be-missed fiery conclusion to a spellbinding adventure. 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 with the mysterious Ōkami.
Now she heads to the imperial castle to resume a life she never wanted in order to save the boy she loves. 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.
This book isn't just Mariko's story to tell. It's also Kanako, the Emperor's scheming consort who wants nothing more than to see her son become the next Emperor. It is also Yumi, a geisha who is fighting against her brother's misogyny in not allowing her more freedom to work with his group, as well as injustices done to her people. It's Tsuneoki Asano who is the spirited leader of the Black Clan. It's Kenshin, the twin brother of Mariko, a Samurai who is lost in his own world after losing the woman he loves. It's Prince Raiden, Mariko's soon to be husband, and the brother of the newly named Emperor Roku, who is by far the most destructive, and the most violent character in this book.
I could almost forgive Kenshin for his behavior, but not the way he treats his own sister. On the other side of the coin, Roku should have had his own narrative. Readers don't really get a chance to get into his head like we do the rest of the already mentioned characters. I for one would have loved having his side of things explained instead of cheering for his fall from grace. I am also happy that this book is the ending of the series. One could say that the series could have ended after the first book, but I'm glad that Ahdieh was able to bring this series to a satisfying conclusion.