Flame in the Mist
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Published on: 16 May 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Retelling, Fantasy
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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.
I would like to give a huge thank you to NetGalley and the publisher, Penguin Young Readers Group, for providing me with a copy of Flame in the Mist in exchange for an honest review.
I was really excited about reading Flame in the Mist because the setting is based around Japanese culture, samurais, etc. I was smiling and jumping with joy after finding out I was given the chance to read and review the novel. I was still in Japan then. Maybe the kami-sama heard my prayers. 😀
Wow. I had a blast reading this novel. There is something with Renee Aldieh’s writing and storytelling that make Flame in the Mist so captivating that I couldn’t put the novel down after I started reading it. Needless to say, I finished the novel in just one day. On the side note, Flame in the Mist might be a novel that is easy to get into but as the story progresses, there were instances where I found it hard to understand or grasped the sentence structure or words in the passages. Since the novel includes several Japanese words, I had to look up some of the unfamiliar terms on the internet. There were times where I had to re-read some sentences 2 to 3 times in order to understand what was happening and I started to get frustrated.
I love every single character in Flame in the Mist. Every character is so unique and different and each of them has a role to play in the novel. Such that if any one character is taken out, it will render the story incomplete. Almost like a missing puzzle piece. The plot on its own is interesting but the characters are the ones which bring out the charm in the story. This is relatable to cooking a soup. The soup on its own tastes nice but it is the addition of spices which bring out the flavours in the broth. In addition to Renee Aldieh’s amazing storytelling skill, this is another reason why I love her stories.
Mariko is an adorable and extreme strong girl. It is pretty rare to find young adult novels which portray a strong female lead and this is my first time reading one. I expected Mariko to be a pampered and spoiled princess as she was brought up behind the walls of the castle. Naturally, she wouldn’t be given a chance to see or experience life outside her comfort zone, i.e the castle. With that in mind, I didn’t expect her to be able to survive on her own after her convoy was attacked and killed by the black clan. Much less, attempting to seek out the black clan and join their ranks. For Mariko to be able to withstand the harsh environment of the black clan despite being a royalty, she has definitely earned my respect.
I’m really glad that the romance in this novel isn’t one of those instant love. You could tell that the two characters started developing feelings for one another way before they actually got together. The novel also addressed the dark side of politics. How a person in power is willing to abandon his/her subjects or treat them like slaves in order to gain more wealth and power.