Genre: YA Fantasy
Synopsis From Goodreads:
The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.
So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.
The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.
Rating: 4/5 stars!
Sorry, did someone say Mulan-retelling, samurai and Renee Ahdieh in one sentence?
That was my first reaction when I first heard about Flame In The Mist and seriously wondered if Renee Ahdieh can pull it off. She did an awesome job with her debut novel The Wrath and The Dawn but I gotta say, with all these elements, I had some reservations about picking up Flame in The Mist. But I was glad that I did.
I have to admit, what drew me to this book was the gorgeous cover. I mean, look at it! It’s beautiful. Really eye-catching.
What I enjoyed next is the world-building. Feudal Japan? Pretty hard to put on the page, especially if you’re not Japanese, in my opinion. And what’s great is that Renee Ahdieh did a great job in depicting the beauty and brutality of feudal Japan and inserting some mythical elements to it. Like in The Wrath and The Dawn, she intertwined reality and the supernatural pretty well. I love Japanese culture and am a big fan of this era (Rurouni Kenshin fans, raise your hands!) and I wanted it to be executed beautifully. I’m glad that she pulled it off. I really got sucked into the world in the first chapter and didn’t want out.
I thought the story telling, flow, and pace were great, too. I love how it shifts from one POV to another. And I enjoyed how dynamic the characters are, how they grew into each of their own story arcs. The characters are complicated human beings; you kind of see how each of their circumstances shape them for the good or bad. It’s a great execution of showing, not telling. I love how the writer makes us figure things out by ourselves and gives the reader free reign to decide if this character is good, morally gray or just downright evil. Subplot game was on point and it makes you want to ask questions and look further into each character.
There were some parts where I think it could have been better? Like the depiction of some of the characters’ supernatural powers. I don’t know if it’s my lack of imagination but there were some parts where I was left scratching my head, like, what just happened? What exactly is their ability? What’s happening? But I think these questions will be answered in the next book so I’ll hold out for that. Perhaps the only thing that I can critique is
Perhaps the only thing that I can critique is that the book is also full of these fragmented sentences. Like, too many. To read. In one book. Also, have I mentioned that Mariko’s older brother is named Kenshin? It makes me think of Rurouni Kenshin, like the anime. It’s not anyone’s fault for sure, it’s just that I can’t help thinking about Samurai X everytime he is mentioned. But again, that’s just me, I think.
All in all, I think this book was a great read. It exceeded my expectations and I ended up enjoying it a lot. 4/5 stars! 🙂
Have you read Flame In The Mist? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!
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