Flame in the Mist

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn, comes a sweeping, action-packed YA adventure set against the backdrop of Feudal Japan where Mulan meets Throne of Glass.

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.

Disney is going to be giving us a live action remake of Mulan but until that comes out Renee Ahdieh has provided us a similar story to hold us over. Often described as a combo of Mulan and 47 Ronin this novel is so much more than a copycat of stories already told. Ahdieh has taken a period of history, a beautiful culture and her own creative brilliance to showcase the strength of the female gender.

For whatever the reason the fanaticism surrounding Ahdieh’s works seem to inspire a love it or hate it viewpoint so if you enjoyed her previous books you should fall head over heels for this new duology. If you didn’t like them but love Japanese culture you might want to give them a shot. If you weren’t a fan of her previous work and aren’t into the artistry of feudal Japan then read something else instead of hurting Ahdieh’s fan base with bad reviews. I say this so you can avoid being pulled into battle with her loyalists 🙂

If you have decided to take the plunge into this book I recommend starting with the Japanese-English glossary she thoughtfully included in the back if you aren’t familiar with the culture and language; it will help increase your enjoyment a lot if you understand what you’re reading more.

Ahdieh does have this way of creating beautiful scene work so you feel like you become part of the Japanese culture and are walking through history arm in arm with samurai warriors. Her vivid descriptions allow you to become enmeshed in how Japan once looked and felt.

Mariko is a strong, courageous, intelligent woman who is easy to admire as she fights against injustice and tries to carve a place in the male dominated world for herself. Her outlook and humanity make this a book worth your time as you allow Eastern wisdom from ancients past to wash over you.

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