Hey Bookworms 😊. Today I am bringing you a duology review by my sister, Shruti. I requested Smoke in the Sun by Renee Ahdieh from Netgalley but I didn’t know that it was the second book in the duology. I couldn’t read the duology because I didn’t have time but my sister read it and she wrote these beautiful reviews..

Flame in the Mist (Book 1)

My Rating : 4 Stars

Plot :At not-quite seventeen, Hattori Mariko suddenly finds herself engaged to the Emperor’s son after some political maneuvering by her father. When her marital caravan is attacked on her way to the palace and everyone slaughtered, Mariko barely escapes and flees into the woods. Everyone blames the band of brigands and rogues who operate under the moniker the Black Clan, and Mariko’s twin brother Kenshin, a seasoned warrior known as the Dragon of Kai, sets out to track her down. Realizing her only way to prove her worth while also protecting her reputation is to figure out who tried to kill her and why, she pretends to be a boy and joins the Black Clan. There Mariko’s innovative intellect thrives. So too does her heart.

My Thoughts:

This book was so, so, so phenomenal and delightful. I was totally ensorcelled by it. Yes, it took me some time to really get into the story, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. The author’s writing style was unlike any other author’s , as it was very descriptive and lyrical.
The characters were very finely crafted and complex, which made them very three-dimensional. And I loved all the things I got to know about feudal Japan and samurais and the whole culture. Having watched Disney’s Mulan, I can say that it has only some things in common to that and was very imaginative in itself. Now I am just waiting to get my hands on Smoke in the Sun(it’s sequel) and devour it in one sitting (if possible).
I recommend this book to fans of historical fiction and teen fiction. You all should definitely give it a try as this was a very enjoyable read for me.

Smoke in the Sun (Book 2)

My Rating: 5 Stars

Goodreads Summary:

After Okami is captured in the Jukai forest, Mariko has no choiceβ€”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.

Find Smoke in the Sun on Goodreads

My Thoughts:

Perhaps it was a bad idea to immediately dive into this just after reading Flame in the Mist. But what can I say? I really wanted to know what happened ,so much that I couldn’t wait at all before immediately reading the second book, Smoke in the Sun. And this time too the book was a totally engaging read . I finished it in a very short span of time, because I couldn’t let go of it. I simply had to read it further and spare myself from the misery of not knowing what happened. I was completely hooked to it. It was such an enjoyable read, and I had lots of fun reading it.
So I should make it clear that this is not just Mariko’ s story. There are a lot of other characters , both important and trivial , which take the story forward. I like how the author gave us a view into each of their hearts and minds and wove an excellent story.
The setting in this book was mainly Heian Castle, in Inako and that was quite a contrast from the jungle. But like I said, the author has adeptly incorporated different perspectives and it is an absolute delight for the reader to know all and see all.
So, in short I LOVED THE BOOK and the characters and the story and everything basically. This book outshines Flame in the Mist in many aspects. Be prepared for more lies, more secrets and more bloodshed.
The only complaint I have is that I wanted more of the ending. I wanted more of how it all ended, how all the loose ends were resolved ,more satisfactorily than just a small epilogue. I mean , I would like to know what happened to Kenshin and Yumi and so on.
But nevertheless, all those fans of teen and historical fiction , you should definitely check this out. This was amazing and breathtaking and Renee Ahdieh manages to hold our attention all the time.

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