Author: Renée Ahdieh
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Hachette Australia
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 favourite 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.
(Thank you to Hachette Australia for sending this book my way in exchange for my honest review! This in no way affects my thoughts or opinions on this book.)
I was so unbelievably excited for this book. I am such a Disney lover, and when I heard of a Mulan retelling YA book coming out, I was over the moon. Mulan is one of my absolute favourite Disney movies, like how can you not love it? So as soon as I could get my hands on this book and read it, the better. Although it’s marketed as a Mulan retelling, it’s not really one at all. For one, it’s set in feudal Japan, not China. And Although both focus on a girl trying to do what’s right for her family, they are very different. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy Flame in the Mist.
This book was so intriguing. I admit I found it a little slow in the beginning, but I was so fascinated by the story and the characters that it hardly mattered to me. This was my first Renée Ahdieh read and, damn, the writing was absolutely stunning; it flowed so nicely and was so easy to read, I really loved it.
The characters were super interesting, as well. I really loved the Black Clan, and Mariko was such a fun character to follow. I loved the constant message of ‘girl power’ that was pushed throughout the story, and I found myself agreeing and praising some of Mariko’s thoughts on sexualisation and gender roles. I did love the romance as well, though I felt like it was slightly rushed (but I’m not gonna lie when I say that their kiss scenes and training scenes were DAYUM) and could have been drawn out a little more (but like, I love sexual tension in books, sooooooo).
The only issue I had with this novel was that I found it slightly confusing at times. I’d be reading a scene that needed some kind of explanation or resolution but it would move on to something else instead. Most of these scenes did end up being explained by the end of the book, but I had almost forgotten about them by the time it was brought up again.I don’t even know if what I just said makes any sense, but it was pretty confusing at times, okay?
In saying that though, I still really enjoyed the story and was definitely left wanting more. I think this series is going to be an extremely interesting and entertaining one, and I cannot wait to see where Ahdieh takes it in the next book!
Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?
Until next time,