Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh
Published: May 16th, 2017
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
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.
“In the beginning, there were two suns and two moons. One day, the victorious son would rise—And set fire to all his father’s enemies.”
Flame in the Mist is a gorgeous story of honor and courage. When Mariko’s convoy was suddenly attacked by a mysterious gang called the Black Chan. She comes up with a plan to dress as a boy and infiltrate the Black Chan and find out who wanted her dead. She must earn their trust and keep her identity a secret. The story is really paced well builds the intensity as secrets unfold. There are so many plot twists but they were placed at perfect moments and had my head spinning. One thing I really loved was how the romance at first wasn’t easily placed. I thought it could be any number of guys for a little bit till things started unwinding and it became more apparent. Mariko is a stunning character that I enjoyed. She wanted to be more than just a dutiful wife and I really love that because women and girls are so powerful and can do anything. It’s important they are seen as more than just merely objects. Mariko invented a few things and that was something I enjoyed reading about especially when she invented for the Black Chan. As one of my favorite authors and author of one of my favorite books ever I had a lot of expectations for this book. I was not disappointed. This book was wonderfully written, had complex characters, thrived with culture, and a sexy romance that knocked me off my feet.
“Be as swift as the wind. As silent as the forest. A fierce as the fire. As unshakeable as the mountain. Rise from the ashes…And take your rightful place.”
“Knowledge was everything in war. Especially in a war of wits.”
This story was set during a “feudal” Japan and was honestly rich with culture. My favorite thing in this aspect was seeing all the Japanese words displayed throughout the book. It felt a lot more authentic and wasn’t hard to decipher with the glossary in the back. I read about different foods and some I heard of so that was really neat. The clothing, the setting, and architecture, the teahouses, geishas, and views on family and marriage were all derived from this beautiful Asian culture. I love when a book is authentic with the culture it is about because I appreciate it so much more.
“I will not be bandied about by men any longer. I am not a prize to be bought or sold.”
Miss Renée never ceases to amaze me with her writing style. I am always left breathless and stunned. Her beautiful prose and world building really send her stories to the next level. I get a feel for the setting and buildings that she describes simply by how she writes about them. The way she writes romantic scenes are simply amazing they leave me wanting more.
“You don’t know the beginning of me.” She trembled as she spoke. “And…you will never see the end.”
There were some hints of forbidden romances that were touched upon for some minor characters that I found interesting. But, the main romance was simply extraordinary. I love slow burns and subtle attractions that you don’t dare think about because they confuse you. This wasn’t all about burning passion and by the end we still haven’t reached that but it’s something close. I don’t want to give names away because it is not obvious but pages 268-271 and 360-363 left me shaking and I need more of it in book two.
“I believe the stars align so that souls can find one another. Whether they are meant to be souls in love or souls in life remains to be seen.”
“A word of warning…Don’t bare your neck to a wolf.”
Starting from chapter one we get right into things. It’s not too slow or too fast. We get the perfect amount to understand what’s happening and watch as things are revealed inch by inch. The plot twists are truly great twists especially the very last page which left me itching for book two.
“This time, I promised to cut out your tongue instead of simply leaving a warning.”
This story was told from multiple perspectives but it really helped shape out the story especially with the plot twists and all the secrecy. It almost felt like a movie where you already know a character’s motive because you saw it in a scene before the rest of the character’s do like the ending to this book. Everyone felt very dimensional and they all have secrets. No one is truly good but some aren’t truly all bad either. I love some minor characters like Ren, Yoshi, and Amaya. Kenshin, Mariko’s twin brother, was 100% multi-faced. He has a deep love for his sister and trying to uphold honor but he is playing in a world with people who aren’t all they seem *cough his dad cough the people in the imperial palace cough*. Mariko is tough and the owner of herself and she said some lined that had me like YES GIRL (page 197). Okami was incredible. The whole chapter that started on page 277 is just yes and what he said on page 384 YES COME ON RESPECTER OF WOMEN KING! Ranmaru was such an interesting character with the biggest plot twist and I adore him and the protective nature he has. I can’t wait to see how they are all further developed in book two.
I thought this story was fantastic and I am so happy she wrote this. It needs to be next year already because I must know how the story ends with these fierce characters. If you read this story what did you think?