This review is overdue by a week!
I really enjoyed The Wrath and the Dawn Duology by Renee Ahdieh, so I had high hopes for this book, especially for the fact that its set in Japan. How often are novels fully immersed in Japanese culture? not really.
Name: Flame in the Mist
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Release Date: May 16, 2017
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.
Book Cover Comments
That phoenix is beautiful. Though are those peacock feathers?
Also the most gorgeous point of the cover is definitely the throwing star and flowers, and just the way they glow.
The blade fonts!
The first part of the book was a bit slow, so it didn’t wow me. Also this book really drove of the Road of Expectations and First Impressions. I’m serious.
As some of you guys might know, this story is a Mulan retelling. Well, at least the basis of it. I had such huge conflict while trying to get my head to read the first part of this book, mainly because I’m Chinese.
And how does this affect it? The problem is, I know Japanese culture really well. Not necessarily history, but I know the culture well. The second problem? I KNOW CHINESE CULTURE REALLY WELL. Due to the beef and history between China and Japan, even those who love both places will never put the two together. These two are just two separate beings.
But when we spin Mulan into Japan, it was just really conflicting for me, because the idea just wasn’t right. More research into crossing cultures should probably be done prior hand, but I mean… books published in America of course set their audience to be anywhere but China…
But Renee Ahdieh successfully rescued this book. And I totally loved it.
In general, Mariko was a really strong character. I love the motivation set in her, and the fact that she knows how to put up an act so that she doesn’t show her weakness. Her knowledge in terms of weaponry was really cool in fact, and it slightly reminds me of the Winner’s Trilogy, where Kestrel also has a lot of brain power in her mind as well. One thing interesting that I noticed is that during the second half of the book, Mariko really grew out of her “i live in a wealthy family” shell. It happens a lot to main characters, but just seeing her have that realisation is really rewarding.
I don’t know what to say about Shinji and Ranmaru, honestly. I wouldn’t say that their character throughout the book thats the one that necessarily lit me up, but a plot point near the ending that actually had me in mental tears. The friendship that goes beyond this two is actually really great and amazing, and the lengths these two would go to protect each other and care for each other, and be by each other’s side.
A little bit about the world setting as well, I love how there are actually historical references to things mentioned in the book. Oh and I really loved the usage of the Jukai forest, because Jukai forest is known for its creepiness. It’s really fun to look up terms and find them on Wikipedia (yes wikipedia i know), and then absorbing a whole lot more knowledge on it.
Also, Renee Ahdieh never disappoints me with the love element. Oh how I died when Mariko and her lover just… Gods. *face goes up in flames*
Also did I mention I love roll credits?
“She was a flame in the mist…”