Now we loved Flame in the Mist. It made Brooke’s top five YA books of 2017. It got 4.5 wine bottles in Boozy Book Club. This book is no joke. So when both of us got Smoke in the Sun, we were too excited to reread and thought we could jump back in. Mistake. Not so much…It took a little bit to get a handle on all the characters. Not that we forgot them, we just couldn’t remember all the secondary characters names. If we were fresh from Flame in the Mist, we wouldn’t have gotten lost in the beginning. So sidebar: Reread Flame in the Mist if you have the patience. OR if you want to get real serious, Renee Ahdieh has release two FREE e-book novellas she wrote from Yumi and Okami’s perspectives. These novellas take place between Flame in the Mist and Smoke in the Sun.
WARNING: SPOILERS FOR FLAME IN THE MIST BELOW!
About Smoke in the Sun
After the Emperor’s death, Roku has assumed the crown. His older brother, the illegitimate prince Raiden, is set to marry Mariko while Okami rots in the palace dungeon awaiting his death sentence. The Empress and the Emperor’s mistress plot against the princes while The Black Clan battles a strange sickness as it sweeps across the kingdom—driving young and old to madness. Tsuneoki’s (aka the Black Clan leader) sister, Yumi, grows restless in the teahouse while Mariko’s brother Kenshin wrestles with his loyalty to the new king and his sister.
Yeah, lots of characters. Notice we lumped The Black Clan together. Hopefully, that refreshes you on all the major players.
Once we had everyone straight, it was all in.
Why Brooke enjoyed Smoke in the Sun
It was an exciting return to a world ruled by loyalty, duty, honor and, above all, love. I couldn’t get enough of Mariko and Okami. Their relationship builds into a solid foundation of trust and respect. Also, my favorite line from the book seemed to sum up Smoke in the Sun succinctly for me:
I realized then that every person has a story to tell. And for every person, that story is the most important one.
The princes are major players in Smoke in the Sun. Roku falls off the hinges while Raiden can’t decide whom to trust. He has to decide whether his loyalties lay with his brother the king or his fiancé. Both princes were surprising.
The ending ties up in a satisfying bow. I won’t spoil it but I loved how it ended. Although, certain characters die and I still have a bit of post-book-traumatic-stress. I get that Renee Ahdieh had to kill them, I do. I just. Yeah.
Overall, I really enjoyed Smoke in the Sun and would recommend the series to anyone who enjoys epic YA fantasy.
Also, Renee Ahdieh just started a Youtube channel. I’m not sure what the channel will morph into but right now, she posted a Smoke in the Sun makeup unboxing. Authors into makeup: also my thing.
Why Emily L enjoyed Smoke in the Sun
Let me just start by saying I also made the mistake of not doing a re-read and it bit me in the butt. I forgot that Okami is Ranmaru but he’s NOT Tsuneoki even though we thought he was…or something like that. I also thought Tsuneoki could turn into a fox but apparently, it’s just a beast? And the fox is someone else? Either way, do a reread, my friends.
Mariko is a bad-ass, but not in the way you might expect. She’s smart, she’s resourceful, she can read a room like no one’s business.
I do not need to be lectured by a woman on such important matters.
Yes, you do. In fact, I think you need to be lectured every day of your life, preferably by a woman.
A lady saying that in feudal times? She’s a feminist ahead of her time.
I love Mariko and Okami together. Their relationship is in a desperate place throughout most of this book, yet they still manage to tease each other. Their bond, despite being relatively new (and starting out a little rocky due to Mariko’s cross-dressing…) remains strong and they have each other’s best interests at heart, even if it means sacrificing themselves. That’s not to say that this book is particularly romantic – it’s not – but the love nuggets we got were pure gold.
Sleep well, Lady Mariko. You are loved. It isn’t enough, but it’s all I have.
I love a redemption story. Smoke in the Sun is that, for a few different characters, but Raiden turned out to be one of my favorites. His layers were peeled back and we get to see that he does have a bit of a soft center. We see his struggle throughout the story, and we’re rewarded when he makes the right choices in the end.
If you read Flame in the Mist, you need to continue the story. Mariko is one of my favorite leading ladies.
Time to get reading! Smoke in the Sun is available now. Just in time for June’s (optional) Boozy Book Club book: a sequel to any book we’ve read in the past.