Monday, October 15, 2018

Review: Smoke in the Sun by Renee Ahdieh

Title: Smoke in the Sun
Series: Flame in the Mist #2
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication Date: June 5, 2018

Format: E-Book
Page Count: 408


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. (taken from

"Respect is not a thing granted. It is a thing earned."

I seriously enjoyed Flame in the Mist, so when I picked up this sequel, I had pretty high hopes. I had no idea where this story was going to go, but I was all for it as long as Ōkami and Mariko were included. I ship them so hard.

In the end, I was both impressed and disappointed. I know that makes no sense, but hear me out:

Ahdieh really taps into the tale's political intrigue and deeper themes. I gobbled up the details at the royal palace and loved watching Mariko become a strong, fearless heroine. I feel like she really set the story up to encompass some solid fantasy, and then...

The plot just kind of dies off at the end. I saw so much potential for the last few chapters and potential sequels, and instead, Ahdieh wraps it up with a nice, semi-cliche bow. Sigh. Where was my emotional distress? Where was the big picture? YOU COULD HAVE DONE SO MUCH WITH THIS. I needed more in order to award this book four stars or more.

So, to sum it all up, this book has a lot of drama and interest to it. However, the ending is slapdash and cuts off any real possibility for further installments. I'd certainly recommend that fans of the Flame in the Mist series check it out, but lower your expectations for the final few chapters.

That ending really could have played out so much better.