Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh | Book Review

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.

“Be as swift as the wind. As silent as the forest. As fierce as the fire. As unshakable as the mountain. And you can do anything…” 




The last book that I read that had a feudal Japan setting was a mess. It was clearly written with the research of Japanese anime.
Flame in the Mist was no where near a mess, it was perfection. It is obvious that Adieh did her research based on history and not on anime.
Flame in the Mist is about Mariko — the daughter of a powerful daimyo — being sent away to marry one of the son’s of the Emperor. On her way the carriage she was in gets destroyed and her entire escort gets murdered by the Black Clan. Soon everyone believes her dead, but Mariko escaped and pulls a Mulan. She infiltrates the Black Clan as she seeks revenge on the people who tried to kill her.
The entire story was set in feudal Japan, the Heain period to be exact. It was filled with mythology, samurai, geiko, sharp weapons, and tea ceremonies. Adieh weaves Japanese vocabulary into the story to give the reader a more Japanese feel. I think that readers that have no prior knowledge of Japan might be very confused with the terminology.
Unlike other YA fantasy novels Flame in the Mist is not all action, and the romance takes a somewhat back seat in the story. It is a subtle romance with no “You are my everything” intensity. The romance in this story was less of a big deal than your typical YA, breaking the story from its stereotypical YA mold. Flame in the Mist focuses more on gender expectations and how society expects each gender to act.
The plot itself was very character driven and amazing. The story was mostly told in Mariko’s POV and it always had me trying to search for answers along side Mariko. We were both in the dark and we both learned together.
My all time favorite thing about the story was the character development Mariko goes through. I cannot go into too much detail because it is a key part of the story and spoilers.
Then my least favorite part was the ending. It left too many questions, about character motives and the magic in the world. I understand this is the first book in the series but it is things being left in major climaxes and cliff hangers stress me out…a lot.

“I’ve never been angry to have been born a woman. There have been times I’ve been angry at how the world treats us, but I see being a woman as a challenge I must fight. Like being born under a stormy sky. Some people are lucky enough to be born on a bright summer’s day. Maybe we were born under clouds. No wind. No rain. Just a mountain of clouds we must climb each morning so that we may see the sun.” 


My Rating: 4.5/5

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