Review: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Title: Flame in the Mist
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Genre: Retelling, Young Adult, Action/Adventure
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 16th 2017

 The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor's favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family's standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she's quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she's ever known.

Mariko has been promised to wed the emperor's son by her father to help raise his social standing.  While on her way to fulfill her duty and marry Minamoto Raiden, her convoy is attacked by bandits, who she believes to be the Black Clan.  She has never considered herself to be the brave type, but she uses her intelligence to escape before being killed.  Mariko knows that if she returns home, she will still be forced into a marriage, so instead she disguises herself as a boy and sets off to find the Black Clan.  Once she finds them she comes up with a plan to join them and get them to trust her, so she can find out why they were sent to kill her.  As she gets to know these people she starts to realize that she may have been wrong about them.

We also get to read the POV of Mariko's brother Kenshin. He is a samurai known as the Dragon of Kai, who vows to find Mariko.  He and Mariko have a close relationship, so that makes him even more determined to find her safe.  As the story continues Kershin's hate for the Black Clan is amplified by a situation that he blames on them.  Mariko soon finds herself standing on the opposite side as her brother.

I loved just about every character in this book.  Mariko grows a lot as a character throughout the story.  She starts off very naive and scared, but as she learns to trust her intelligence she becomes a valued member of the Black Clan.  I loved the verbal sparring that she had with Okami.  They were my favorite.  Okami doesn't trust Mariko, and knows that she is hiding something.  He prides himself on always being about to control the situation, but something about Mariko leaves him feeling off-balance.

This was a fun adventure, packed with plenty of twists and turns, that has me really excited and anxious for the next book in the series.  This was the first book by Renee Ahdieh that I've ever read and I'm happy to say that I will be buying her previous work asap!  I loved her writing and how she created a clear picture of the world around you.  The characters are full of personality, and force you to root for them.

*I received an ARC of this title via First to Read in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own. *

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  1. I'm still conflicted whether I want to read this one or not. I really wasn't a fan of The Wrath and the Dawn, but I'm interested in this one because of the feudal Japan elements. I'm glad you enjoyed all the twists and turns in the book.
    Great review!

    1. I've never read The Wrath and the Dawn. I have it on my TBR list but haven't gotten a chance to pick it up yet. I've seen a lot of mixed reviews about that one. I love books that are able to surprise me, and this one did that a couple times. If you get a chance to check this one out, I hope you enjoy it more than the last one! Thanks Nick!

  2. I loved The Wrath and The Dawn series, so I was anxious to see if this one lives up to their magic! Based on your review, it most likely does!

    1. I really enjoyed it a lot. I think if you go into this one not expecting an exact retelling of Mulan then you will enjoy it. The only Mulan retelling element the author really used is that Mariko disguised herself as a man. Hope you get to read this one, and love it!

  3. OMG I neeeeeeed to read this book! It sounds so awesome! And the cover is just gorgeous!

  4. I really love the cover and the premise for this. I have always been interested in feudal Japan and it's not a time, you see a lot in YA! I wasn't the biggest fan of the author's first books but I think this is going to be much more my alley. You've convinced me --- esp because the characters seem amazing. I am def a character-drivven reader so that's good to see.

    Great review!

  5. I'm coming back here super late... But I really wanted to read this one and see what you thought of it now that I've finished reading and reviewing it!

    I also really enjoyed watching Mariko's development through this story - watching her realise that she wasn't as observant as she thought and that the world wasn't quite how she perceived it to be.

    The wait for the next book is going to be very, very long... :(


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