Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers on May 16, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy, Historical
Pages: 393 Format: Hardcover Source: Purchased
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.
After falling deeply in love with Renée Ahdieh’s first series, I could not freaking wait to read Flame in the Mist. With the masterful writing I’ve come to expect and a brand new story set in a fantastical feudal Japan, this story definitely did not fail me. Mariko’s journey may have started off rough with obstacles at every turn but that’s only just the beginning.
Smart, fierce, and absolutely stubborn, Mariko is not one to sit back and let things happen to her. She finds little ways of rebellion at every turn and her inventive mind is constantly whirring. Plus her growth throughout this first installment was extensive, learning that all is not what it seems as well as beginning to accept herself and the decisions of others around her.
The Black Clan were a fascinating group to discover and watch be fleshed out. Each of them were dynamic; Ranmaru, the patient leader, Yoshi, the crafty cook, and of course Okami, the mysterious, intense fighter. I loved the scenes at camp and all the lessons learned there. I was also intrigued by Mariko’s brother, Kenshin, the Dragon of Kai, and his path throughout the story.
The writing here is a slow sensory experience that never truly stops. Ahdieh’s way with words is a wonder. Not overly flowery or in-depth, just the perfect combination of phrases to make the biggest impact. In the case of the Flame in the Mist, her words carry the reader through, even when I was experiencing a disconnect with the characters or plot. Talent like that is hard to ignore.
Overall I really enjoyed Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh and I’m dying to know what happens next. She crafted a story that builds on itself, full of slow burn mysteries and romance. Mariko and the Black Clan held me enraptured as the twists and turns played out and the writing was gorgeous as always. I definitely recommend this one, especially to those who love interwoven plots.
So have you read Flame in the Mist yet? A fan of Ahdieh’s writing? Impatient to know what happens next?
Let me know in the comments below!