My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Published: June 5th, 2018
Recommended Age: 14+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Fantasy, War Setting, Magic, Romance
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.
Who invented duologies?
No, but really, since when is it okay for a series with such unique content and loveable characters to end so soon?
Yes, I am in mourning. I should be celebrating, because that ending is priceless, the author wrapped things up very nicely, but instead I am suffering from Flame in the Mist withdrawal. Just when you start caring for the protagonists so much… they are stolen away from you.
Hatred for duologies aside, I have to admit I admire Renée Ahdieh for knowing when to stop. It’s better she stops then goes on to develop her series some more, only to go in the wrong direction and ruin everything, like previous authors have done.
Maybe Divergent should have been a duology after all.
Whereas the first book took me no less than ten full hours to read, Smoke in the Sun read particularly and unexpectedly well. Don’t get me wrong, Flame in the Mist mesmerized me, but boy did I have to push through at times. The story is incredibly interesting nonetheless, but even my imaginary turtle moves faster than that.
It’s like the author heard my prayers because I was able to finish this in two sittings and didn’t have to force myself one second. I’ll come clean and say that I forgot who most of the characters were, so I even had to Google them at some point. Renée does introduce them again in the beginning, but my brain couldn’t process.
Fortunately, the more I read, the more my memory resurfaced, and so did my love for Mariko. Strong female characters are more present than ever in YA fantasy books, but not all understand their worth like Mariko does. She knows she deserves to be free and loving a man does not mean giving everything up for him in the process. Without necessarily realizing it, she is fighting for equal rights.
You go, girl.
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