Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on May 16th 2017
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.”
Flame In The Mist was one of my most anticipated releases of 2017. I mean, it’s a Mulan retelling. How often do you come across that? On top of that, it sounded as though the protagonist was really badass, and I’ve always been fascinated by Japanese culture, so I loved that aspect as well.
While FITM wasn’t perfect and had some things that annoyed me, I did really enjoy it. I especially loved the Black Clan and its band of mischievous boys. Their Clan has this really dark reputation of killing everyone in their path, but they were truly my favourite characters.
“My life has been filled with death and lies and loose women.” Okami pushed back a fall of black hair, meeting her gaze. Holding her there. Rapt. “I regret everything else.” He smiled, his hooded, heavy-lidded eyes brimming with mockery.
Truly he was hopeless.
I loved reading about them, and about Mariko’s mission to infiltrate their ranks disguised as a boy.
While the writing was really vibrant and beautiful, sometimes it became a bit too much. Like the author was trying too hard to be clever. I would also like someone to look up how often the words “liar” and “lying” are used. I swear half of the dialogue between Mariko and Okami is just:
“No I don’t.”
“You’re a liar. You’re lying.”
“No I’m not.”
Which got really frustrating after a while.
However, I found the world-building to be really rich and intriguing, and I loved how none of the characters were 100% black or white – their personalities all had shades of grey.
And with that ending, you bet your butt that I’m going to be anticipating the sequel, too. There are so many questions left unanswered, and I can’t wait to see how Ahdieh spins this yarn.
“Fear kept her alert. She would always let it feed her. Never let it consume her.”
I thank NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy