Her mind could be a sword. Her voice could be an axe. Her fury could ignite a fire.
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.
2 / 5
I really wanted to like Smoke in the Sun. I wanted to write a raving review about what an improvement this book was over Flame in the Mist; alas, it was not to be. I’m not sure if it was the setting I was trying to read this book in (Britain’s one and only heatwave) or if this book really was just such a drag.
This boy, who was her magic
I couldn’t really remember what happened at the end of the previous book so I had to look it up. Then I had to double check all the characters. Only then could I dig into Smoke in the Sun. We open with Mariko alone and friendless in the court, promised to marry her betrothed Prince Raiden whilst her real love, Okami, is locked in the dungeon.
The plot is slow throughout. There’s lots of thinking about Okami, lots of minor characters dominating the pages, and loads of lengthy sections of information. It’s surprising, because thinking back there were several exciting actions scenes full of swords and arrows and murder, but it never makes the plot speed up. It moves like the M4 on a weekday at rush hour.
“The measure of any life is not in greatness. But in goodness”
Then there’s the writing; just like Flame in the Mist, Smoke in the Sun falls prey to the incredibly short sentences and is plagued by overly poetic prose. Everyone talks like this:
“My mind exists on a mountain. Yours exists in a field. Should the mountain kneel before the field?”
It sounds kind of nice, but really makes very little sense and gets pretty irritating after a while; it’s like every single sentence is supposed to be an inspirational quote that goes on a postcard. I can appreciate beautiful poignant writing (really, I can!) – consider Strange the Dreamer – but this was just grating after a while.
What did I like? I liked Mariko, I thought her character really developed and flowered into someone interesting; I liked that this series was a duology, so that the plot wasn’t overly dragged out; I liked the romance and thought that it was sweet. Smoke in the Sun wasn’t a great book for me, but for the right reader (probably the one who really liked Flame in the Mist), this could be a fun read.
My thanks to Netgalley for an ARC of Smoke in the Sun.