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 the very safety of the empire.
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: I have mixed feelings about retellings. They either stick too closely to the original fairy tale plot, with nothing original added, or they change things in ways that don’t make sense to me. When I heard that Flame in the Mist was a loose retelling of Mulan, I was both wary and excited. Mulan is my all time favorite Disney movie, so I knew things would go one of two ways. Honestly, there were definite Mulan aspects of the book, but the story was incredibly written and so unique. Flame in the Mist quickly became an all time favorite retelling of mine. So naturally, when this ARC showed up on my doorstep, I lost my stuffing: screamed for half an hour, petted the book, hugged the book, etc. You get the picture, it wasn’t pretty.
I am so happy to report that the conclusion of this duology was amazing! The plot was full of politics and scheming (one of my favorite kinds of plots) and the main character, Mariko, was just as much of a badass as I remembered. In Flame in the Mist she really discovered herself, but in Smoke in the Sun, she put all of her self discovery to use, doing what she needed to do to see her goals through.
Oh, Ōkami, you perfect little cinnamon roll. He was just as, if not more incredible in Smoke in the Sun. I loved his character in both books: his joking nature, his sarcasm, his devotion to Mariko. This book was really his struggle with his identity. He had to reconcile the things he wanted for himself with the things everyone else expected of him. His character growth was fantastic and really left me wishing I could read an entire book from his POV.
The only thing that bothered me, and this is getting a little nitpicky, was the ease with which the villain was defeated. Though it was worked up to over the course of the book, the villain’s death was pretty quick, lasting maybe half of a page total. I wish that there had been more time spent on the end of the book, it felt like she could’ve written fifty more pages to really tie things together. That being said, the ending gave me warm fuzzies and did wrap up all loose ends!
My Takeaway: This stunning conclusion to the Flame in the Mist duo logy really took my breath away. It was beautifully written, with an intricately woven plot and characters that I absolutely adored. I can’t wait to see what Ahdieh writes next!