I bought this book 🙂
Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Historical
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 Black Clan and track 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.
*Note: I’m reading this as part of the #AsianLitBingo event, read until the end for details!
I literally love Renee Ahdieh so much, and the worlds and characters she brings to us. Ergo, it was only natural that I buy and read her first book in her new series. So, while we are on this topic, I’m just going to point out that Renee Ahdieh is writing about Historical Japan, but she is indeed not Japanese. On top of that, Flame in the Mist is not 100% historically accurate, and it takes a lot of liberties, so if that bothers you, I would skip this one. I was also skeptical in the beginning, but I had seen a lot of positive feedback and decided to give it a try anyway.
On that note, there was a lot of discourse on whether this story was a retelling of Mulan, but in my opinion it is very different, and the only similarity is that they both cross-dress. Speaking of, if you read my review on Noteworthy, you’ll remember that I said I was over the whole cross-dressing troupe–however, like I said I really like Renee Ahdieh and I was willing to take a chance on it. So without further ado, let’s get to the actual review.
Our main character, Mariko, is the daughter of a samurai and betrothed to the second son of the emperor. She is vehemently against the idea, and while on the way to her wedding, she is attacked by the Black Clan. In order to survive, she dresses up as a young man to find out who wants her dead, and why.
Mariko hates being controlled by men, she wants the power to make her own decisions about her life. She has an older brother who she is always comparing herself with, especially when she is first running away from the assassins who tried to steal her life. I thought is was interesting how she both envied and admired him, and how her thoughts progressed over time. They are both very similar, but have different paths to take, and they keep the reader engaged in their story.
Mariko is resilient, intelligent, and observant. I liked that aspect of her, for example the quote below:
“Control is an illusion. Expectations will not rule my days.” -pg 9
She was raised sheltered, raised to be the perfect bride, so her breaking off to do something else was quite refreshing. She took her own life into her hands, and she was fierce and honorable about it.
I also liked Okami, the love interest. I kept seeing girls swoon over him on twitter, and I must admit I see why now. He’s very dimensional; and he has a lot of depth as a character. He’s very appealing, and he has long hair, which uh, sign me up (listen, boys with long hair is my greatest weakness, so don’t @ me for being biased). He also teaches Mariko how to fight, and he’s a pretty good mentor (another weakness of mine, Ahdieh what are you doing to me *sobs*). I must mention that this hate-to-love romance, one of my favourite troupes, so if you’re into that–jump on this band wagon. Now. They are so good.
I really liked many aspects of this book, Renee Ahdieh has done it again! While the beginning was a bit slow, I found it necessary for the proper amount of world building. Flame in the Mist certainly keeps you on the edge of you seat, wanting more and more. Her characters were excellent, and while it was not the most historically accurate thing I’ve ever read, the story itself was suburb!
“A girl is not a sword. And no price is worth that trade.” -pg 380
Waiting for the next book is going to be hard.
Overall rating: 4/5 hearts!
Cover: 5 hearts
Plot: 4 hearts
Characters: 5 hearts
Pacing: 3 hearts
Writing: 3 hearts
**Note: I read this as part of the #AsianLitBingo event, and you can read more about it here. It’s basically celebrating Asian American Heritage Month, and you need to read five books in a row that fill a prompt to get a bingo! This book fulfills the East Asian MC slot!
You can read my other posts for #AsianLitBingo here:
Also, I wrote a review for The Wrath and the Dawn last year, and you can read that here! Thanks for reading~~