Flame in the Mist
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Publication Date: May 18th 2017
Format: ARC (400 pages)
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.
My Rating: ★★★★
Behind a gorgeous cover, Flame in the Mist is a well written historical fantasy with some serious Mulan vibes and a beautiful Japanese setting steeped in culture and gorgeous scenery.
This book does not hold back on the darkness. The opening chapter threw us straight into the middle of things, setting the scene for the rest of this complex, dark and bloody tale. When Mariko is the lone survivor of an ambush she decides to take things into her own hands and find out why she was under attack. Breaking her way into the confidence of the Black Clan, Mariko uncovers a list of forbidden truths and discovers more about herself than she thought was possible.
I have to say that I found this book a little difficult to follow at times and the first half of the book was a bit too slow for my liking. However, the final 25% really picked up the pace and I couldn’t get enough of this novel. There were certainly plenty of surprises’ along the way and I wasn’t able to predict how this book would end. I loved the culture and the use of Japanese vocabulary throughout the book. It was helpful to have a handy glossary at the back for any moments where I was unsure but it wasn’t often that I needed to check it as Renee Ahdieh’s writing is so beautiful and detailed that my mind was able to take in the Japanese words with an understanding I didn’t know I possessed.
My favourite thing about this book is how much it breaks all those feminist stereotypes. Mariko is a girl therefore she shouldn’t be a warrior, she shouldn’t carry a weapon, she shouldn’t be learning to fight with a sword but Mariko does all of these things and so much more. There are some seriously excellent moments for feminism in this book and I loved that!
On the whole I enjoyed this story but thought that at times it was a little wordy (if that makes sense??) and it confused me a little. The ending has been really intrigued though and there were certainly plenty of loose ends that were nowhere near being tied up so I’ll definitely be back for book two!
A big thank you to Netgalley, Hodder and Renee Ahdieh for my advance copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Have you read Flame in the Mist? What did you think?
This cover is gorgeous, what are your favourite covers of 2017?