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21 September 2017

Review: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

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.

Source: NetGalley Request | Subscription Box

5 Words: Family, obligation, magic, entitlement, freedom.

This came in my May FairyLoot box, but it was only because I'd guessed the book that I hadn't already pre-ordered it anyway. Phew.

I was supposed to be reading it with my buddy, but she started and just didn't stop. I barely managed to hold myself off reading it all in one go - having to go to work definitely helped because this book was hard to put down. I found myself addicted to the writing.

I liked how Mariko developed and changed, but god was she whiny. I understand that she was brought up in such a way that she would naturally be entitled and snobbish and think herself better, but I would have preferred her more humble. I did like her feminist streak and her inspiring strength and self-belief, how she pushed herself. I loved her intelligence and how she never hid it.

I won't say that this book is without problems, but I would say that calling it a Mulan retelling isn't fair on the story or the cultures it lends from. I found it easy to suspend disbelief in the fantasy setting, and I liked that the world wasn't explained; as a reader you discovered the world as the characters explored it. But I have read better books from a similar setting.

There is a romance and a "twist" that I found disappointingly predictable (Oh hey there, Broody McHottiepants! Nice to see you here.) but they fit with the story and the trope. As I expected them, they didn't add much to the story for me.

This was enjoyable and I will definitely read on and read more by the author. I loved the writing style enough to forgive anything I didn't like so much in the story itself - I liked the story and the story was good, but it wasn't exceptional. The writing however? Amazing.

1 comment:

  1. I've heard so many differing things about this book - it seems like people either love it or hate it, so I'm glad you enjoyed it so much. :) I love the premise. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <3

    ~ Zoe @ Stories on Stage


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