Release: 18th May 2017
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Source: Proof copy received from Amazon Vine
"Mariko has always known that being a woman means she's not in control of her own fate. But Mariko is the daughter of a prominent samurai and a cunning alchemist in her own right, and she refuses to be ignored. When she is ambushed by a group of bandits known as the Black Clan enroute to a political marriage to Minamoto Raiden - the emperor's son - Mariko realises she has two choices: she can wait to be rescued... or she can take matters into her own hands, hunt down the clan and find the person who wants her dead.
Disguising herself as a peasant boy, Mariko infiltrates the Black Clan's hideout and befriends their leader, the rebel ronin Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, Okami. Ranmaru and Okami warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. But as Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets that will force her to question everything she's ever known."
I wasn’t the biggest fan of Ahdieh’s previous YA fantasy offering The Wrath and the Dawn but I loved the sound of Flame in the Mist so decided to give it a go and I’m so glad I did! Sometimes giving an author a second chance really pays off.
The book follows Hattori Mariko a seventeen-year-old girl who is on her way to marry the Emperor’s son when she is ambushed by the disreputable bandits the Black Clan who have been hired to kill her. All her life Mariko has been a pawn in a world ruled by men but now believed to be dead she decides to carve her own path and escape the clutches of her father and the political marriage he has arranged for her. Disguised as a boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan so that she can discover who paid to have her murdered and to earn the clan’s trust so that when they least expect it she can get her revenge on those who would have killed her.
Flame in the Mist is a retelling of Mulan and I found it to be such a refreshing take on YA fantasy. A lot of the Japanese mythology used in this book was new to me and I loved exploring a different kind of fantasy world. The authors writing and descriptions were vivid and luscious making it so easy for me to get lost in the world around me.
Mariko was hands down my favourite aspect of this book. She’s a badass feminist heroine who questions the society she lives in and constantly uses her intelligence and ideas to prove herself equal to the men around her. There were so many quotes throughout this book from Mariko on feminism that I just loved.
My main issue with The Wrath and the Dawn was that I didn’t like the romance and felt that there was too much of it but in Flame in the Mist Renee Ahdieh gets it exactly right. There is a gorgeous slow burn between Mariko and her love interest and I appreciated how it played a smaller role and didn’t overshadow Mariko’s personal development or the adventure that she’s on.
With Flame in the Mist Renee Ahdieh has really upped her game as a writer and has created a lavish fantasy world with a dark mystery at its heart. This book really ticked all of the right boxes for me and I am already eagerly awaiting the next book in this series.