TITLE: Flame In The Mist AUTHOR: Renée Ahdieh SERIES: Flame In The Mist #1 PUBLICATION DATE: May 16 2017 PUBLISHER: Penguin SOURCE: Netgalley ARC
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.
I requested this on Netgalley a few days ago and after a long day of watching television and stuffing myself with Easter chocolates i finally decide to check my mail. Seeing the mail from Netgalley i was just like-ugh probably got rejected. IMAGINE MY SURPRISE WHEN I WASN’T!!!! I still can’t believe i got an ARC of this book-it’s one of the most anticipated books of this year!!!! So a huge huge thanks to Penguin for this; it seriously made my week-but this in no way affects my review!
One thing that would be cool to clear up-this is not a Mulan retelling. Aside from the protagonist dressing up as a boy, a background of a war ridden Japan and the importance of honor permeating the whole book-that’s where the similarities end!
Mariko wasn’t physically a warrior like Mulan but she was intellectually pretty smart and she kind of sets herself apart from her society because she’s too curious. She tends to question things instead of just going along with them like women are expected to do. And unlike Mulan, dressing up as a man doesn’t allow her to become a warrior like Mulan wanted to be but it just gets her the freedom which she craves . At least it’s the first step to figuring out who she is without societal constraints. So while she went through an existentialist crisis at the beginning of the book i can really see her character start to take shape when she was given her freedom. She has a super sharp mind and incredibly creative when it comes to custom weaponry!
“When Mariko had erred, it had usually been intentional. An attempt to push barriers. Or a desire to learn. Usually it was that. A wish to know more. As she grew from a curious child into an even more curious young woman, the word she most often overheard at her back was odd. Much too odd. Far too prone to asking questions. Far too apt to linger in places she wasn’t meant to be.”
Romance wise, going into this book i was absolutely terrified that a love triangle would erupt. And then i kept getting the feeling that a love triangle was gonna happen the more we got introduced to the characters but thankfully it didn’t! I think a love triangle would have totally ruined it so thank the YA gods the author didn’t fall into that trap!
I’m not going to go too much in depth with who the love interest is cause it’s better if you figure it out for yourself whenever you read it but he was awesome!!! The first few lines in which he was described was certainly…unique. But he is seriously amazing and his character develops from cold and untouchable to someone with a lot of vulnerabilities and secrets.
One of my favorite things in Ahdieh’s books is her phenomenal word building! The World building was hands down absolutely FANTASTIC!!! It was a total immersion into the culture and the background down to the smallest details of food! Seriously spectacular!
I do wish we had a little more romance-i guess i was used to it from Wrath and the Dawn! Now this might make me totally crazy but i was imaging the whole book as an anime in my head-i watch way too much anime! And the fantasy elements weren’t so prominent on this book so hopefully in book 2 we’ll get more of that 😛
I also have to mention that one of my favorite characters was Kenshin-Mariko’s brother and the Dragon Of Kai. He was quite complex but from the very first chapter from his POV he was just oozing power and strength! And the mutual trust, love and dedication between Mariko and him was completely adorable! He never gave up on his sister no matter what anyone else said.
“Mariko was not dead. She was simply fighting a different kind of war. Though Kenshin had yet to understand her purpose, he believed in his younger sister. Supported her.
Just as he knew she believed in and supported him. They would always be there for each other. Whatever may come.”
And the ending omigosh!!! There’s just twist after twist after twist. I had to put my kindle down for a while after i finished and just process EVERYTHING.
And the villains in this book? Ahdieh will keep you guessing until the very last pages and then blow everything up with another twist!
Then there was the moment when there were no more pages to swipe on my kindle and i was so angry that i was glaring at my kindle like it could somehow magically make more pages appear.
*Me swearing at the ending*
Whew once i calmed down and realized that it’s not my kindle’s fault i actually got around to writing a review 😛 Amazing side characters, amazing world building, amazing main characters, amazing plot and amazing setting! This book certainly lived up to all its hype!!!
What are your thoughts?? Have any of you read/planning to read this???