Advance Galley Reviews
Id like to start off with I loved the creativity of this story. It started off a little slow and took a little to get into it, but then I couldn't put it down. When you think you know what is going on, the story will take a turn. So many factions going on that the characters dont know what is going on. The ending did prove that the story will go on. So thats exciting news. I really dont like cliff hangers though. But I am looking forward to the next book. And seeing all the new mischief she will get into.
Will Flame in the Mist be the best fantasy novel of 2017?
For me, Flame in the Mist is the epitome of YA fantasy. It has all the elements that I look for in a book, and it executes on each of those elements so exquisitely. Getting to read an ARC copy of this book was truly an honor.
The first thing I have to say is just WOW! This is one of those book reviews that is difficult to write, because finding the words to adequately describe a book that is this well-written, beautifully-developed, and perfectly executed is a near impossible task.
I loved everything about this story from the world-building, to the characters, to the magic, to the incredibly swoony romance. This book is everything I hoped it would be and so much more.
The various settings in Flame in the Mist are told with such vivid detail, I felt like I was there inside the story. The details of the forest particularly captured my attention. It is haunting, captivating, and a lovely all at the same time. There is also a bit of magic to the forest that made me fall in love with it, in spite of (or maybe because of) its darkness and secrets.
There are so many incredible characters in this book, and Ahdieh expertly handled the switching of POVs, and Mariko was an ideal protagonist for me. She is a strong female character, and by "strong" I mean that she is strong in spirit, mind, and heart. She is intelligent. Getting to watch her think through situations and finding effective solutions to those situations was fascinating. She has a wonderful character arc, and I adored her for her love and loyalty to both her friends and family in spite of the fact that they weren't all on the same side of the major conflict that runs throughout this book. Mariko is passionate, caring, smart, and everything that I look for in a main character.
There is an incredible cast of characters surrounding Mariko, who I also fell in love with. They all have hidden depths and motivations and getting to see more and more of each their characters unfolding as the story progressed was just so much fun.
I love books that include secret societies in their stories, and the Black Clan is a secret society that is captivating on so many levels. I can't say anything more about them without including spoilers, but I am certainly excited for this book to be out in the world so I can discuss them ad nauseum with my fellow voracious readers.
From reading the description of this book, I expected to enjoy the plot, the characters, and the world. I did not see expect for there to be such an incredible and intense romance though, and that unexpected element of this story in combination with everything else that I loved about it, is what propelled Flame in the Mist from being a great book to being the best book I've read so far this year.
There are some books coming out this year that sound like they are just going to knock our socks off, but it will be amazing difficult for any of them to top Flame in the Mist for being the best YA fantasy novel this year.
This book is a masterpiece in storytelling. I cannot think of a single way in which it could be improved, or that would have made me enjoy it more. This is pure perfection on a page, and I will be enjoying every second of anticipating the next book's release.
I’ve decided to give Flame in the Mist a try because I’ve been craving for a new, exotic setting for some time now. So a story set in feudal Japan? Count me in! Unfortunately, I think the setting is the only thing that I can honestly praise here. The culture, the philosophy, the traditions - this is what has adorned the reading experience for me. The Mulan-ish vibe - a smart, self-assured girl fighting against the societal limitations and for her personal right to have a freedom of choice - too, but only in the beginning. Soon the main heroine started to repeat herself, proclaim the never-ending grandma’s wisdoms, turned to your typical Mary Sue and lost her charm to me. And while the plot and the romance still managed to make me turn the page, I couldn’t help the feeling of disappointment. I still have hopes for the second book and I will give it a try. But, well, sad-sad-sad.
Renee Ahdieh's Flame in the Mist was one of those stories that had me oscillating between flying through it, wanting desperately to know what would happen next, and forcibly slowing myself down in order to savor the characters and magic interwoven in the prose and plot. Mariko is strong and feisty, but not without her own faults. Okami is mysterious and charming despite his insincerity. Kenshin tries to be honorable without, at first, realizing the price. What pleased me most about this story was how complex the characters are and how much they each change and grow. The political subterfuge only enhanced the ever-changing loyalties and perspectives of the characters in what was part mystery, part political intrigue, and part coming of age story. Flame in the Mist is like a more grown up Mulan-esque story that refuses to flinch away from the consequences of death and bloodshed. This has been one of the most fun stories I've read in a long time and I am already anxiously awaiting the sequel.
What I really liked: character development. Our MC here, Mariko, was brought up in a privileged environment, and with that mentality, but throughout the book, she slowly came to realize that she might be wrong. I liked how she realized that the world isn't a simple black and white, but that she needs to shift her ideas of which color everything should be. She considers herself smarter than most people, and her changes took place slowly, and felt realistic. I felt that was nicely done. And since most modern YA books are allergic to good characters, this was a major plus for me.
Setting: feudal Japan. I love when books are set in cultures vastly different from my own, since it feels like a whole new world. Flame in the Mist wasn't as detailed on the setting as it could've been, but it still set the tone of the book. I've read other books that went into specific detail on Japanese customs - like the tea ceremony and bowing etiquette, but such aspects were only glossed over here, instead of delving into the specifics. Not the end of the world, but the story (I felt) could've been richer with more ceremonial and traditional details.
I'm a sucker for girls disguised as boys, but other than the standard puny weak boy cover story, this one didn't pull at me so much. Plus, it didn't say why the other boys never noticed. I mean, for most 17 yr old girls, cutting your hair and wrapping your chest tightly won't be enough to hide your gender.
Speaking of gender - I understand it's set in feudal Japan, so women didn't really have power, but all Mariko's friends were men. All the important characters were men. Yes, there were some minor women, but it didn't feel good enough.
Romance - typical steamy YA kissing scenes, but their relationship developed over time, which helps it out a bit.
Another impressive part - plot twists. They were good.
Magic - I wasn't sure where this book sits in the fantasy genre. Mostly, the world seems our own - magicless. But then there are weird moments that seem like magic, but aren't explained either way - rationally or magically. I feel that the matter is open-ended, but that it will be explained in the next book(s). Hopefully, it will be done well, with a well-defined system.
Finally, I'm hovering between 4.5-4.7 stars. I definitely recommend this book. It was amazingly done for the YA genre - lots of political intrigue and changing loyalties that you don't always find in typical black and white YA worlds.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy through FirstRead in exchange for an honest review.
I really enjoyed Ahdieh's first book, The Wrath and the Dawn, because of it's haunting language, fantastic characters and complex plot. Unfortunately, while I enjoyed this book, it fell somewhat short of my expectations. Ahdieh's beautifully writing felt more forced this time and sometimes even got in the way, especially of dialogue. The main character, Mariko, is inconsistent and flat and not a ton of time is spent on the others. That said, the story itself, based on Milan, is intriguing and I mostly enjoyed the reading experience. Overall, this book is a solid 3/5 stars and I will mostly likely pick up the next.
I will admit, I wanted to read this book based only on the cover alone. It’s gorgeous! Plus I read Renee’s, Wrath and the Dawn duology, and loved those, so I assumed I would like this as well. Flame in the Mist had a very Mulan feel to it, but with a twist. It felt real. I thought I was living the story, instead of merely reading it. Pure magic.
She was not a half. She was wholly her own.
Mariko’s life isn’t headed in the direction she wishes it would go. After falling into the hands of the Black Clan, she must conceal her identity and slowly find the answers to why her life was threatened. But as she grows closer to the Black Clan, she realizes that some things aren’t what she originally perceived. There’s more to these men than she’s been told.
“To me, you are magic.”
As she learns to fight with these men, she grows closer to one in particular. And when he learns her secret, her entire world gets turned upside.
“My heart knows your heart. A heart doesn’t care about good or bad, right or wrong. A heart is always true.”
All trace of amusement vanished from his expression. “I may lie every day of my life, Hattori Mariko. But my heart will always be true.”
I do enjoy escaping to a foreign land, and Renee’s books let me do just that. They’re filled with the perfect combination of adventure, fantasy and romance all set in the beautiful locations. My heart was racing, and stopping, at quite a few spots. I am rather anxious to read the next one!!
Overall, I'd give this about a 3.5—the first half, a 2 and second half a 5. This is the first Renée Ahdieh book I've read, despite hearing good things about her work. I downloaded this book onto my iPad the day it became available and began it right away. However, it took me the majority of the month to get to page 200. I started reading, then went off to another book and came back. Read another book, came back...I'm not exactly sure why the first half didn't grab me. Once at the halfway mark, however, I read very quickly, finishing it in just a couple of days before bed. If I didn't want to leave a review, I'm not sure I would have finished it at all.
There were a couple of things that annoyed me about the writing, which might have added to my snail's pace at the beginning. Ahdieh has a habit of writing sentence fragments. In fact, a lot of YA authors I've found lean toward sentence fragments for some reason. Some, of course, can be dismissed as style choices; but they did appear frequently in places where it seemed unnecessary.
The protagonist's thinking, often denoted by italics, generally takes me out of the narrative too. Mostly, it was harmless but for a few places where it was used as a way to tell the obvious. For example, "When the collar of his kosode [robe] shifted, lines of scarred skin became visible, wrapping around his shoulder like a set of monstrous fingers." The simile is a nice description, but this sentence also confused me—I had to reread it. When I first read it, I read it like the robe was what was wrapping around his shoulder, which doesn't really make any sense. But what follows in italics is, "he was badly whipped in his past." Oh my yawn. When I read this, I sighed to myself.
There was also a mention of a spoon that caused me to scrunch my nose in distaste. You see, the whole fantasy world Ahdieh lovingly created is what appears to be feudal Japan. So why is there a spoon? This detail annoyed me so much that I went around and did some quick research on spoons. Japanese cuisine abandoned spoons in the 9th century. Crazy right? Then why are we talking about them here? Why not use chopsticks? It seemed odd. Other things mentioned like geisha didn't appear in Japan until the 18th century. Of course, you could dismiss this because it's a fake fantasy world, but considering the rest of the research that went into the story and the words, it's somewhat unfortunate that she's eating with a spoon while they're fighting with katanas rather than swords.
But there is a ton to love about Flame in the Mist. I love the attitude of the protagonist toward sex. I love her attitude toward love, "She remembered Chiyo telling her that finding one's match was like finding one's other half...She was not a half. She was wholly her own." YES YES YES! Love this! Of course, you don't need a man to make y ou whole. You are whole. Lovely message. The descriptions included are also beautiful, especially of the tea house and geisha. The characters were also strong, and I got a good sense of who they are and what their goals were throughout the story. For these reason, I would likely pick up the next in the series.
I was so excited to receive the chance to read Flame in the mist as i. Love Mulan and to have a book that was a kinda retelling made me jump for joy. But as i began it i wasnt as captivated by it as i wanted to be. I hope that i can give this story another chance but right now i have to set it aside and hope that some one else gets more pleasure from it then i did.
This was the first Renée Ahdieh book I have read, and I have heard so many great things about her writing that I went in with high expectations. I was not let down! This was a wonderful story about politics, magic, and the strength of women. I also truly enjoyed Ahdieh's writing. It was so imaginative with just the right amount of mystery to keep me hooked the entire time. At first I had a really hard time connecting with the characters, but eventually they all grew on me. The novel also had a very intricate plot, so I really had to pay attention to what was happening, and all the small details and the names of everyone or I would get really confused. At first I thought this was going to be a story with no romance, but then it came out of nowhere and I completely support it! I can't wait to see where it goes in the next book. Let's talk about Mariko, because she is an incredible character! I loved seeing her grow into a confident woman during a time in Japan when women were not given power and were only expected to be wives. It was so empowering and inspiring to read about such a wonderful character. I am definitely going to check out more of Ahdieh's writing in the future, because I can't wait to discover her other characters!
I was so excited for this book after loving The Wrath and the Dawn, but I'm so disappointed now. I have conflicting feelings about this book; there were parts of it I really liked, but for the most part I just felt nothing. I honestly feel like I must have missed something because everyone else seems to have loved this book, but I felt no connection to any of the characters, and for the first 75% of the book I was so bored. Things picked up toward the end, and I really enjoyed the romance, but that wasn't enough to save it for me. In theory, I should have loved this book. The setting and the synopsis intrigued me, Mulan is one of my favorite Disney movies, although this is definitely not a Mulan retelling, and I love Renee Ahdieh's other series, but I just felt so little for this book. I want to read the sequel because the ending left me interested, but this book was a letdown overall.
This book was absolutely amazing. I received an ARC copy and began this book knowing little of the synopsis or Andieh's writing. However, I can honestly say that I will promptly be purchasing The Wrath and the Dawn. From the first page, Andieh weaves a complicated story, similar to Mulan/ based on Mulan (I'm not sure which), that will have any reader hooked. The main female character, Mariko, is phenomenally written. She displays intelligence as strength and uses it to her advantage. She is a very dynamic character that catches the reader, not because she is flawless but because she embraces her flaws and works towards being a better person. Other characters in the book were lovable as well. From Ranmaru to Yoshi and Okami, the black clan will make you fall in love, despite their reputations. Also, Mariko's twin brother Kenshin is delightfully complicated. The characters confuse you throughout the book, which only made me like the book more. I feel as if I should not mention more about them for fear of spoiling anything but just know that good and bad are always in the eyes of the beholder. The setting is also awesomely written. It was clear that Andieh did her research on the setting, mixing in Classical Japanese references and words with the fantasy of this world. This book truly took me by surprise with its excellence. I was shocked throughout the book and couldn't put it down, reading for probably six hours straight. I cannot wait for the sequel and would highly recommend this book to any avid young adult reader.
Flame in the Mist is a Mulan retelling of sorts. It has very Mulan-esque vibes, but is original in it's own right. The story is engaging, thought provoking, and well written. I've never read a Mulan retelling, but it was always one of my favorite Disney films so I was excited to have the opportunity to get my hands on an ARC!
The checklist of things I love in a YA Fantasy that Flame in the Mist fulfilled:
1. Kick-ass female protagonist ?? ?Mariko is great. She is witty, intelligent, and funny. AND.....breaks the mold on YA fiction's heroines (so pretty, but doesn't know she is; clumsy and awkward, but can wield a sword like she's been doing it ll her life; etc.)
2. Lots of action??
3. Plot twists?? ?Two major ones. And the ending! ????????
4. Great platonic friendships??? Not only do we have friendships between males, but also a couple good ones between Mariko and other members of the Black Clan.
5. Romance?? ?The romance is barely there, so if you don't like romance in your books I still think you will enjoy it.
The biggest reason I didn't rate it 5/5 though was because I found myself getting caught up a few times by all the descriptions. I connect more with plot-driven writing than character-driven, even when the descriptions and internal dialogue are beautifully done.
– This is a random and unexpected thought. I like how Mariko's virginity was handled. It's not really a major spoiler to anything significant in the plot, but spoiler alert if you don't want to know. Mariko made the decision to have sex with a stable boy that she didn't particularly know or have feelings for. She chose to do this because she wanted the loss of her virginity to be her own choice, not sold to the highest bidder. I liked the lack of slut-shaming and the fact that a big deal wasn't made about it.
– Overall, I loved this book. I'm definitely going to be continuing with this series! - which is good because I'm getting this book in TWO of my book subscription boxes in May ??
My first encounter with Reneé Ahdieh's books was with The Wrath and the Dawn, which is basically a re-telling of A Thousand and one Nights. As always I'm a little hesitant to pick up re-tellings of fairy tales. Because it can go both ways and I'm kind of fond of fairy tales. So I don't want them spoiled. Since the Wrath and the Dawn was promising, I was wondering how Reneé Ahdieh has grown since that book in 2015. And did she grow now. From the first page of Flame in the Mist, I was drawn like a moth to the Flame. How tragic, how horrible and how sad. But you just have to read on to see what happens to the little boy and what happens to Mariko.
And the story just gets better and better. You are drawn in by Mariko's determination to discover why the Black Clan wants to kill her. We can feel her despair, when she is trying to act like a boy and isn't able to perform the most simple tasks. And you can relate to her confusion, when the Black Clan maybe isn't what they appear to be. Reneé just keeps turning the story, with secrets, lies and betrayal.
I wanted to cry when Akira-San was found dead with his grandchildren, I wanted to laugh when Mariko is called Lord Lackbeard, I wanted to be proud when Mariko was clever enough to create the eggs of mist and I wanted to sigh when Okami finally discovers the truth about his suspicions on Sanada Takeo.
It was a rollercoaster ride of emotions and I loved the entire journey. So many lies and deceits, and still so wonderful and true to see people fight for what they believe. Reneé has really grown. And so, of course, five out of five stars from me. Highly recommended and awaiting the second part.
Mariko has been promised to wed the emperor's son by her father to help raise his social standing. While on her way to fulfill her duty and marry Minamoto Raiden, her convoy is attacked by bandits, who she believes to be the Black Clan. She has never considered herself to be the brave type, but she uses her intelligence to escape before being killed. Mariko knows that if she returns home, she will still be forced into a marriage, so instead she disguises herself as a boy and sets off to find the Black Clan. Once she finds them she comes up with a plan to join them and get them to trust her, so she can find out why they were sent to kill her. As she gets to know these people she starts to realize that she may have been wrong about them.
We also get to read the POV of Mariko's brother Kenshin. He is a samurai known as the Dragon of Kai, who vows to find Mariko. He and Mariko have a close relationship, so that makes him even more determined to find her safe. As the story continues Kershin's hate for the Black Clan is amplified by a situation that he blames on them. Mariko soon finds herself standing on the opposite side as her brother.
I loved just about every character in this book. Mariko grows a lot as a character throughout the story. She starts off very naive and scared, but as she learns to trust her intelligence she becomes a valued member of the Black Clan. I loved the verbal sparring that she had with Okami. They were my favorite. Okami doesn't trust Mariko, and knows that she is hiding something. He prides himself on always being about to control the situation, but something about Mariko leaves him feeling off-balance.
This was a fun adventure, packed with plenty of twists and turns, that has me really excited and anxious for the next book in the series. This was the first book by Renee Ahdieh that I've ever read and I'm happy to say that I will be buying her previous work asap! I loved her writing and how she created a clear picture of the world around you. The characters are full of personality, and force you to root for them.
I only read a little of the book so I can have an excuse to own a copy when the book is released! I love the plot! It is fun and creative! I love the Japanese influence in the book. The main character gives me some serious Milan feels! Renee Ahdieh is one of my favorite authors! And she did not disappoint with flame in the Mist!
Renee Ahdieh impressed me with The Wrath & the Dawn and The Rose & the Dagger, so when I saw an advertisement for her new series, one touted as a mashup of Mulan and 47 Ronin, I knew that I would want to read it at the first opportunity.
When I began to read it, I noticed that the characters were very individual, even those that were members of the Black Clan, a group of shadowy men that are purported to be nothing more than liars and thieves, two words that are the nicest of ones attributed to them.
Mariko, the main character and the one whom we experience most of the story through, began the tale as thinking quite highly of herself, which seemed to carry her for a good portion of the story, though I wasn't sure how. This isn't to say she wasn't intelligent or crafty, given her incognito predicament, but she engaged in a forward trajectory as though it was impossible for anyone to see beyond her disguise or her spying at the local, well known Black Clan watering hole. How she manages to fool all of these people for a month, I'm not sure, especially since her early behavior wasn't as careful as she thought it was.
Kenshin, Mariko's twin brother and another point of view that we see in the book, was an interesting counterpoint to his sister. We are subtly introduced to his strength (his weapons, his steed), but also to his power and how ably he could command his men if he so chose, even in Jukai Forest, a place all of them are superstitious of. There was an air about his character, even early on that, that made me cautious about him. While Kenshin seems to be the dutiful son and brother, looking for his missing sister, there was a brief moment of darkness at the conclusion of his first chapter that makes me suspect him. The identity of Mariko's attackers is unknown until the end of the novel and no one should be given a 100% clear bill of innocence.
There is some hints that Kenshin is not all honor, not all the person that his father wants him to be, especially when he interacts with Amaya, the son of his father's metalsmith. It is clear that he loves her and even knowing that he is expected to marry well, which a marriage to Amaya would not be, he is fighting against this destiny. He is conflicted character, something evident in this small way early on and only growing larger the further the book continues.
The members of the Black Clan served both as background characters and one, even, as the primary love interest. In the moment I felt very real emotions for the ones that were named, especially Ren and Yoshi. There are two more, Ranmaru and Okami, who introduce a whole lot of confusion in regards to their own histories and their interactions with Mariko. It was a bit hard to get a real feel for how large the Black Clan really way, but the sense of camaraderie they had was evident whenever they went on a trip to Inako or when they were getting ready for battle.
Ahdieh's powers of description are well used, not only to describe the forest of Jukai and the luxury Mariko grew up in, but when the imperial city of Inako comes to life. She utilized her words well and crafted a scene that was appealing not only to my imagination, but to my palate as well. Mariko, coming into town with members of the Black Clan, sees beautiful things like "vividly dyed paper lanterns" and "bolts of lustrous silk", but she also smells the "marinated squid sizzling over an open flame". I want to see this place, not just picture it. As well as Renee put the fear of Jukai Forest into us by describing the various ghosts and supernatural creatures that people suspect run about, not to mention the life sucking tree vines, that was how well she soothed us with the city of Inako and it's fabled district, Hanami.
The ending came up quick and I had to check before I realized that this would not be the end. There will be more to come in this series, whether it is a duology as Ahdieh's previous works were or whether it is a longer series. One of the only things I didn't like about the conclusion of Flame in the Mist was that, as things were beginning to be tied up (however loosely for book one), a whole lot more story threads were introduced in the last couple of chapters. It made things much muddier for me and flattened some of the enthusiasm I'd built up over Mariko's adventure.
The other thing is, a lot of people are comparing this book to Mulan, which I mentioned in my introduction as one of the reasons that I picked this book up in the first place. I have to say that I think this comparison is unfair as the only thing that Mulan and Flame in the Mist have in common is that they both feature a female who crossdresses. The motives are different, the settings are different, etc. Flame in the Mist shares a lot more in common with 47 Ronin, a movie which was an epic piece of cinema.
It was a great pleasure to have the chance to read an early copy of this book and I look forward to receiving my final copy once it is published next month. If you've enjoyed Renee Ahdieh's works in the past, or if you enjoy tales that take place in Japan, or just because I say so, keep this book in mind. It will be a great new story to read.
I received a copy of this book from Penguin Random House's First to Read in exchange for an honest review.
Disney is going to be giving us a live action remake of Mulan but until that comes out Renee Ahdieh has provided us a similar story to hold us over. Often described as a combo of Mulan and 47 Ronin this novel is so much more than a copycat of stories already told. Ahdieh has taken a period of history, a beautiful culture and her own creative brilliance to showcase the strength of the female gender.
For whatever the reason the fanaticism surrounding Ahdieh’s works seem to inspire a love it or hate it viewpoint so if you enjoyed her previous books you should fall head over heels for this new duology. If you didn’t like them but love Japanese culture you might want to give them a shot. If you weren’t a fan of her previous work and aren’t into the artistry of feudal Japan then read something else instead of hurting Ahdieh’s fan base with bad reviews. I say this so you can avoid being pulled into battle with her loyalists :-)
If you have decided to take the plunge into this book I recommend starting with the Japanese-English glossary she thoughtfully included in the back if you aren’t familiar with the culture and language; it will help increase your enjoyment a lot if you understand what you’re reading more.
Ahdieh does have this way of creating beautiful scene work so you feel like you become part of the Japanese culture and are walking through history arm in arm with samurai warriors. Her vivid descriptions allow you to become enmeshed in how Japan once looked and felt.
Mariko is a strong, courageous, intelligent woman who is easy to admire as she fights against injustice and tries to carve a place in the male dominated world for herself. Her outlook and humanity make this a book worth your time as you allow Eastern wisdom from ancients past to wash over you.
I would like to start out by saying thank you to First to Read for providing me with an ARC of this book!
I adored this novel! Renee has a way of building such magical, enchanting worlds. The female lead is a badass who isn't afraid of taking a stand.
I immediately saw feminist views in Flame In The Mist, and I loved that! Our main character refused to let men walk over her! That is something so rare in YA!
Overall I loved this book. I will definitely purchase a finished copy for myself when it comes out!
I thought this book was really good. I love the Wrath and the Dawn duology and was excited to read this book. There were so many plots twists and suprises that it kept me entertained the whole time. I also really liked the characters and that as usual with Renee Ahdieh, they weren't stereoypical at all. Looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
Well this was a pleasant surprise. I wasn't sure what to expect with this one, but I truly enjoyed it.
Mariko is the daughter of a well-respected samurai, but she's just not quite right. She loves making things, inventing new machines and things. Clearly, this is not how a girl in feudal Japan should be, so everyone just thinks she odd. Curious. They want her to act normal, because she's engaged to be married to the Emperor's bastard son. In fact, she's on her way to the capital to meet him when her caravan is attacked and everyone but her is killed. She is left for dead.
Talk of the Black Clan in the forest leads her to dress as a boy and try to get information on the Black Clan. She can't let herself go home until she knows why everyone was murdered and why they tried to kill her. But things are not what they seem.
Meanwhile, Mariko's twin brother is tracking her, and nothing adds up. She seems to be with the Black Clan, but that answer just seems too obvious. And if the Black Clan is anything, they are clever. They know how to disguise themselves. So was it actually them behind the attack?
Her brother, Kenshin, was actually a great character, and his is a secondary storyline that looks like it'll be explored a lot more in the next book. As for the Black Clan, I don't really want to say much about Okami and Ranmaru. But know that I loved them and I need to know more about Okami.
The worldbuilding is incredible. You can tell Ahdieh did her research on feudal Japan, and then there are the things you can always expect from one of her books, like lots of descriptions of food. This book made me hungry haha. And I loved how Mariko used her ingenuity to get in the good graces of the Black Clan, inventing new weapons to help them, finding out new things she never thought she would uncover. She learned to fight, not just physically, but to fight for people who couldn't fight for themselves.
This book is rife with action, betrayal, surprises, and a swoonworthy romance. But don't worry, it doesn't overshadow everything.
I really liked this book. I actually liked it a lot more than her first series.
I'm really torn on whether I liked this book or not. I loved the writing and setting. Renee Ahdieh knows how to write a beautiful story that transports you. The story had quite a bit of intrigue regarding who attacked Mariko's caravan and why. I loved seeing the way her mind quickly realized what was happening from simply observations. It was refreshing to see a main character who valued intelligence over physic prowess. Where I struggled with this book was on the pacing. It was incredibly slow-moving. I also felt that for someone who is supposed to be so intelligent that Mariko was slow on some key plot point observations. Every character also has to tell you that Mariko is smart and observant repeatedly. I will probably continue this series since it did end on an intriguing mystery. I definitely would have preferred more time spent on the palace with the political intrigue. Perhaps that is where Book 2 is building.
This was so fun and interesting! I love Renee's writing, but I did like The Wrath and the Dawn a little more than this one. This book is still an excellent read, and I definitely recommend it!
First of all, this book had intrigued me from the beginning. Mulan retelling? Yes, please! The first 100 pages were a little confusing and slow to start for me, but once I got past that awkward hump the book took off! I literally had the hardest time putting the book down so I could study. Priorities? *shrug* Once the story picked up, it was everything I wanted it to be and more! Ms. Adieh's poetic way of telling an epic tale was mesmerizing. I loved the way she described every detail as if the reader was there to experience it themselves. I also loved looking into a culture that I did not know much about. I'm glad there was the included glossary of words at the end to help me out with things I was unfamiliar with seeing. To sum it all up, there was mystery, betrayal and so much passion. I'm very excited to see where the story goes next! I have theories and hopes, but anything could happen!
I love Renee's descriptive writing. I felt transported to Mariko's world. The action was on point.
I splurged on this book. What I loved: more adventure and more intrigue than her first duo of books. What I missed: I found it a bit less romantic than Wrath. But overall, I felt her writing grew and I loved it. I literally could not put it down and needed to keep reading to see how it would all play out. There were many surprises that I did not expect. I am excited to see what all my book friends think.
What an incredible journey! This is what I love about books, one instant you're in your home and the next you're in the Japanese forest traveling in a wooden box.
I was super excited when I started reading this book, I've never read anything by Renée Ahdieh nor have I ever read anything like this.
The first few chapters are a bit difficult to get into because there are so many foreign words and its such a different setting from what I am usually accustomed to.
But once you get into the story and you start using the Glossary at the end of the book, you're set.
This story has it all: honorable samurais, a ronin with a torturous past and a girl who wants to be free.
I loved Mariko's character, her strength and cleverness. I also loved both of the ronins, Takeda and Okami.
I loved the writing and how it described the Japanese setting. I especially loved the description of the city of Inako, with its flowing river filled with pink petals.
In short, I really enjoyed this book and I look forward to the next in the series.
I received a free advance copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, and I honestly loved it! I loved Mariko's clever mind and determination. The romantic build up felt natural and real, not forced like so many books tend to do these days. I also liked that the romance was secondary to the main story. There are still mysteries left to solve and magic yet to understand, though, and I truly want to read more about Mariko.
I tried for several days to get into Flame in the Mist, but I struggled with the slow pace of the writing style. I wanted to love the setting because Japan (or fantasy lands like Japan) is so infrequently used as a setting, but I don't feel like enough worldbuilding and setting details were given. I also felt very confused about characters' backstories. I will be giving this book another try, though, once I can get my hands on a physical copy.
Prior to being approved an ARC, I had heard about this book and that it was a Mulan retelling. I definitely saw the Mulan similarities but this story is definitely it’s very own. I loved this book. I thought it was so unique and done very well. I loved the theme of female empowerment that is woven throughout the entire book – we see this in Mariko’s making her own decisions and taking her life into her own hands during a time when women were treated like property and not allowed to make their own decisions.
The romance element was simply breathtaking. In connection with that I am SUPER happy that Mariko was not the squeaky clean, pure main character that we see in a lot of stories. She was very real. She was a badass that had no problem standing up for herself and did not succumb to what anyone wanted her to be, but she also had moments where she doubted herself and her strength. But she always found strength within herself, which was amazing.
The writing was absolutely beautiful, this was undoubtedly one of my favorite reads of this year so far. It does end rather abruptly but I was okay with that since I know there is going to be a second book. I felt like a lot happened in this one and the stage was set for some really big things to happen. I cannot wait for the second one and my only complaint is that I will have to wait awhile since this book won’t even release until May. I definitely have a lot of questions like the magical elements we see and where this comes from and what happens with Mariko, plus a few more that I won’t mention because of spoilers.
This was my first Renee Adhieh book and now I am very interested in reading her other novels.
I love Renee Andieh's books and this one did not disappoint at all! I wish I could learn alchemy from Mariko and to do what she did by dressing as a boy, well I just have to say she has some guts!!!. I fell in love with this story and would love to see it made into a movie! Thank you Renee for another great book!
I received an ARC/e-galley of this book through Penguin's First to Read program - although that did not influence my opinion of the book or the review provided.
Although the story is vastly different from the Wrath and the Dawn, Renée Ahdieh's poetic style of writing comes across just as beautifully in this novel as her previous series. The gorgeous writing is my favourite aspect of the book, followed very closely by the plot, characters, and the world.
I have always been a huge admirer of the Japanese culture and love seeing the (fictional) historical representation of feudal Japan. There aren't a lot of examples of this that I have personally read and truly fallen in love with. This is by far my favorite iteration of that time and I adore the story that accompanies that world.
Mariko is to be wed to one of the Emperor's sons, an act that would bring her family honour and one that she does not wish to partake in. Alas, she is a girl and thus does not get a choice in her future. Halfway to her destination, her litter is attacked and the entire envoy is killed - except Mariko.
This attempt on her life changes everything and leads her on a journey to discover who put a price on her life, to find answers and ensure her family's honour. Mariko knows that a girl cannot accomplish this on her own and takes drastic measures. Her first act is to cut her hair and it gave me such Mulan vibes. It immediately made me so much more excited to read this book, especially if she channeled my favorite Disney heroine (and spoiler alert, she does).
Mariko is a great female character to look up to because no matter what situation she finds herself and she will persist, fight against the odds, learn whatever she can, and never let anyone keep her down. She is such a strong character and it is so empowering to see that in the novel, especially when you don't see that type of character generally in this world.
She masquerades as a peasant boy and is able to fool everyone. I almost immediately fall in love with Mariko as she is curious, intelligent doesn't always know when to stop talking. She is a feisty, strong female character who is not used to being on her own but is intelligent enough to always want to learn and succeed despite the hurdles. We get to know Mariko best and see her grow over the course of the novel.
Her twin brother Kenshin is the brawn to Mariko's brains. He is much more comfortable on a horse or with a weapon in his hand than in conversation with nobles. It is his actions that truly lead her down the path and make her question everything she's ever believed in. Which is so difficult to do because you want to believe in the best of your family until wonder if that's not true, can shake your entire foundation. It's a really authentic feeling in the book and you wonder just as Mariko wonders - could it be true?
Ranmaru and Okami are members of the Black Clan, a band of notorious thieves who may be more than they appear. The two men are like yin and yang, the counterbalances of one another. Ranmaru is an optimist, more talkative and humorous than Okami, who is more serious and hides himself behind a mask.
Renee Ahdieh's beautiful writing extends to the world at large, painting vibrant pictures of cities like Inaka and foreboding ones of the forest where the Black Clan make their home. You are transported into the world with the characters and don't want to leave, even if the situations you're faced with aren't always pleasant.
I fell in love with the story and the characters almost immediately. Flame in the Mist is a wonderful story and I cannot wait to read the next in the series. The book has a satisfying conclusion while also leading you to excitedly anticipate what will happen in the subsequent books. Highly recommended to young adult/teen readers who have enjoyed Renee Ahdieh's previous novels, strong female leads, and beautifully written stories.
The description you've probably heard so far, comparing it to a mash-up of Mulan and 47 Ronin, is very accurate. Mariko, the heroine of the story, is not your typical obedient/subservient daughter commonly portrayed in Feudal Japan. She's smart, cunning, and willing to do what needs to be done to achieve her end-goal. Throw in some magic, action, and romance - along with some seriously conflicted/complex "villains" - and you've got a perfect combination for a great read. While I am sad that the story ended so abruptly with a big cliffhanger, I am excited that there will be more to come in this series. I have so many questions that need answers and will eagerly anticipate book 2.
I have mixed feelings on this book so let me start with the negatives. First, I found some of the plot confusing but I'm honestly not sure if that was a storytelling issue or an issue of me not paying close enough attention. The pacing felt a little disjointed toward the end of the book which made it a little difficult to excited about the action that was taking place. I also felt like the ending didn't offer enough closure which is a problem I often have with YA series. Too much setting up for what comes next and not enough tying up story lines. I prefer a book to have a beginning, middle, and end, even if it's part of a larger story. All that being said, I still really enjoyed this book! Mariko was a great narrator and I looked forward to her chapters whenever I wasn't reading from her POV. I also liked that even the "bad guys" had motives and personalities and that no one was evil just for the sake of being evil. Depending on who was narrating anyone could be considered the hero or the villain and that makes the reading experience a ton of fun. I am excited to see what comes next for this series!
As a Japanese American, it has been difficult for me to find YA set in Japan that does not pander to some white man's fantasy of Asian girls. I am so grateful to Renee Ahdieh for writing a novel with elements of feudal Japan that stays true to the culture but also brings to life a kickass heroine who is smart, self-sufficient, and interesting. There are several elements in the novel that are left unresolved, including the occasional use of magic. It's clear that this is the first in a series and that those elements will be expanded upon in later books, though I wish Ahdieh had gone into a little more detail about them in this one to make it a little more well-rounded. Nevertheless, Flame in the Mist has definitely earned a place in my library and I will be purchasing a copy as soon as it comes out.
What a wonderfully amazing book! I loved Ahdieh's other books, but Flame in the Mist could easily be my favorite. It's unlike any book I've read before. The worldbuilding and characters were new and interesting to me. I liked the romantic aspect and the conflict was intriguing. Overall, I liked the retelling of Mulan and can't wait to see where the story goes next!
I've been anxiously awaiting Flame in the Mist! Ahdieh easily became one of my must-read authors after The Wrath and the Dawn, and I have to say that this book didn't disappoint. Flame in the Mist has the hallmark characteristics of Mulan but with a Japanese twist. Our heroine, Mariko is incredibly relatable. After some incredibly unfortunate events, she sets off to infiltrate the infamous Black Clan. I love that she doesn't instantly become this all-powerful, kick-butt ninja. Her character develops organically, and as a reader you find yourself relating to her struggles. *SPOILER ALERT* Until the last few chapters I was totally hook, line, and sinker in love with Flame in the Mist. I felt the pacing was a little off after Okami and Mariko had their falling-out. My only other complaint is that the ending felt incomplete and rushed. I know that there is going to be another book in this series, but it just seemed like the final battle and major character reveals didn't flow properly. Despite my nitpicking, I feel that Flame in the Mist is a wonderful book and I highly recommend it!
I was a huge fan of The Wrath and the Dawn so I knew that I would like this one simply based on the fact that it was written by the same wonderful author. And I wasn't wrong. It is such a beautifully written piece of work. Mariko is such a great character to follow and I thoroughly enjoyed her journey throughout this story. I couldn't put this one down and I'm excited to get my own physical copy of it when it comes out.
Boiled down to its core, Flame in the Mist has a strong Mulan vibe, but set in feudal Japan and with far more cultural and character complexity. Mariko is a wonderfully fierce heroine, but still believable as a nobleman's daughter, especially with her lack of physical prowess, which is shown in sharp contrast with the boys of the Black Clan. Her mind stands on its own, not just because she is quick-witted and harbors scandalously unfeminine notions of independence, but because she is genuinely creative and seeks to understand every facet of the world. In addition to Mariko, there are so many strong supporting characters, all with fully-realized dreams, motivations and secretive plans being cooked up in the background. While this book is satisfyingly crammed full of action and a wealth of character development, there is obviously a lot left to explore in this world. Highly recommend!
Totally dug this Japanese retelling of Mulan. Mariko was appropriately strong-willed and resourceful. I like that Ahdieh hinted at the origin stories of some of the popular weapon attributed to ninjas and samurai (throwing stars and smoke bombs).
Mariko's struggle with infiltrating the Black Clan was appropriately difficult and I'm happy that she didn't immediately excell at everything, because that wouldn't be realistic.
This book really felt complete on its own up until the end, which was fine, because hopefully there will be even more epic action and political intrigue in the next book.
****Spoilers after this****
I also felt Okami, and the Black Clan, to be like Robin Hood and his Merry Men. I felt the way Ahdieh wrote the group, made this reveal of their true nature very well done, along with the reveal of what Marino's family had been doing to the poor. It was believable because we were given only Mariko's point of view, that of a girl who had been raised sheltered from many things even when she tried to expand her horizons.
I had been looking forward to this book for a while, as I love Mulan and Japanese history, and to get two in one was just so exciting. But I did have my reservations going in, as I'd read "The Wrath & the Dawn" by Renee Ahdieh and had been rather disappointed with it, especially after all the hype it had gotten.
The writing style was rather annoying, as there were far too many periods, where, instead, there should have been commas. It was all for a dramatic effect, but came off as excessive, and interrupted the flow of the story.
As for the story, itself, I enjoyed the first three-quarters, but the last 25% felt almost like a different book, entirely. There's little to no explanations, as it's obviously the first book of a series, but there was too much left unsaid. Also, the villain felt wasted- barely even brush upon, and lost in the drama of Mariko's love life.
Other than that, everything is too conveniently resolved, for all the trouble it would truly cause.
When based on the writing style and plot, alone, I'd give it 2 out of 5 stars- 2.5, at best. As it is, I also rate based on morality. In that aspect, I'd be forced to give it a solid 1/5.
There are inappropriate scenes that walk a very thin line between "R" content and "PG-13," and I would have to say that it verged toward "R."
Besides that, there was some foul language, but that is more of a minor thing, in my opinion.
This is the first I've read of Renée Ahdieh but definitely not the last. I love, love, love this book and will be recommending it to anyone who will listen. I started it and didn't stop until it was done. I am in desperate need of the next book now.
I felt connected to every character and completely invested in what came next. This Mulan retelling made my Disney heart happy.
Bravo! Renee Ahdieh has done it again! I absolutely adored The Wrath and the Dawn and now I have another book of hers to love just as much! She has officially made it to my auto-buy author list! Going in, I had no idea this book was based off of Mulan and I was pleasantly surprised. She definitely pulled it off! This book was not a let-down. It kept me interested from page 1! Can't wait for book 2! Definitely would recommend!
I have been an avid fan of Renee Ahdieh ever since I met her at a book signing early last year. I was dying to read this book and was so excited to be selected as one of the lucky few who get to read it before it comes out in May! I had a lot of expectations going into this book because Renee Ahdieh's past two books of the Wrath and Dawn duology blew me away. This book definitely lived up to all my high expectations, though! ALL of them! It didn't quite blow me away but I still fell in love with all the characters and the story. Renee Ahdieh does a wonderful job a creating a whole world that you can really immerse yourself in and yet stay true to the core values of the legend of Mulan. Personally, I really enjoyed some references to the Disney Mulan it made my Disney heart happy. The characters were well developed, you really got to get to know them and fall in love, hate, or understand each person in a different way. The whole book was just an amazing journey I was so happy to live through during my spring break and I honestly can't wait until this book comes out and I can buy myself a hard copy! May can't come soon enough!
I was very excited to read this Mulan re-telling but am sorry to say that it just wasn't for me. It was a bit slow going and several of the names were similar and hard to keep track who was who. It just didn't grab my attention. The cover art is gorgeous though.
Ms. Ahdieh has crafted an excellent mystery, filled with vivid details and enough “who dun it” to satisfy all but the penultimate puzzle aficionado. She has also given “Flame in the Mist” that authentic flavor present in novels written by Japanese authors.
As a frequent reader of Japanese feudal history and historical fiction, the opportunity to read “Flame in the Mist” was one I could not resist. If you are of a like mind, I recommend it to you. I certainly will be looking forward to seeing what else lies in store Hattori Mariko and the Black Clan.
Now comes the unpleasant part: In her attempt to set herself apart, or so I believe, Ms. Ahdieh has developed a “style” that is contrived. This “style” consists of unusual paragraph breaks, fragmented sentences, sentences without a subject and strange usage of familiar words; There are lots of “sentence words” too. I cannot believe that a middle-school student would get away with mangling an assignment as badly. And to those at who allowed this talented young woman to get away with this bit of malpractice, I say Shame. On. You.
Many thanks to Penguin Random House's First To Read program for providing me with an advance galley in return for this review.
I really enjoyed this story. The characters had depth to them and the story had great paving that kept me turning pages. There were a lot of twists that I didn't see coming, and this made the book even more enjoyable. The main character was easy to lie and watching her learn and grow as a person reminded me a lot of myself at that age. This made me feel really connected to her, and therefore to the story.
I was hesitant to read Flame in the Mist after a total miss-miss The Wrath & the Dawn was for me, so take to consideration that if you read and enjoyed the aforementioned TWATD, there's a very big chance you'll enjoy FITM as much or maybe even more.
This book follows a story of seventeen years old Mariko, whose life is suffocating her with rules and confines of being a proper lady, meant for only one purpose: to be a prize sold into a political marriage that will benefit her father. So when on her way to her future husbands, Mariko is almost killed and is presumed dead for the rest of the world, she seizes the opportunity to finally become her own person and follow her dreams. As many of you already know, this book is a loose retelling of Mulan featuring a strong-minded heroine and her adventures in feudal Japan. Japanese culture is, alas, a rare guest in YA literature these days, and one of the reasons I was willing to give Renee Ahdieh another chance was this unique setting, and, plus, you know, who can say no to Mulan, right? I must say, to the extent of my knowledge, which is really not big, and judging by the feelings I had during the reading process, I absolutely loved the setting in this book. It really felt like I was reading a book about Japanese culture and had this ghostly feeling of being present in a world of samurais and ronins; I felt bushido – the way of the warrior - the heroine and other characters were following.
Side note: I would recommend to look into the glossary in the end of the book before you start reading. There’s a lot of Japanese terms in the book that will make it easier if you acknowledge yourself with them beforehand.
The first 30% or so of the book were perfect for me: I liked everything about it; I admired and almost loved Mariko as our main character: her resolve to act, to rise above her stand, which was a hard task for a woman at the time, was admirable. And Mariko used her brains and wisdom to fight her way in the world of men dominance. She wasn’t perfect, she made mistakes, but imperfect is what means to be human. Funny thing, though, is the more I read the more repetitive everything Mariko did became. It felt like she stuck in her character development at one point, and there was nothing to show any progress, only the author’s attempt to justify Mariko by telling to us how smart and sly she is, how she outsmarted everyone, and how everyone was nodding in conformation of Mariko’s genius, but 'tell, don’t show' is not the best way of moving your character development, readers need facts to believe, and the book showed the opposite of author’s words. For example, almost everything Mariko did when she got to the Black Clan (Rebels) was forgiven or oversighted: Black Clan executed people for less than what Mariko was given a free pass for. And why?
Secondary characters though, they were more interesting than Mariko. Though they had less book space than Mariko did, I found myself following their stories with much more interest that I did with the heroine.
Overall, Flame in the Mist is definitely a book worth reading if only for the Japanese setting and Eastern wisdom. But if you weren’t a fan of author’s previous works, don’t expect to fall in love with this one, because it follows a lot of the same tropes TWATD had. And, on the contrary, if you were a fan, it is highly positive you will love this book as well. For me it was a 50/50 case, some things I liked a lot, some made me roll my eyes a lot. But I am definitely reading book 2, and am looking forward to more book space for my new book boyfriends and secondary romances. Also, the plot was quite engaging, and a couple of questions left make me highly curious as how things will work out in the sequel.
My finale verdict: recommended!
"Be as swift as the wind. As silent as the forest. As fierce as the fire. As unshakeable as the mountain"
I will be honest: by the end of this book, I was not one of those things. Especially silent.
Last month when the books available on First to Read popped up, I saw A Flame in the Mist was one of them and immediately entered. I was a big fan of Renee Ahdieh's last series (which included The Wrath and the Dawn and The Rose and the Dagger), and when she mentioned starting a new series based on Mulan, I was sold. Fast forward to a week and a half ago when angels started singing in my email inbox and holy light filtered through my computer screen:
"It's Time to Start Reading!"
Ohhh yes. Yes it is.
The premise of this story is a little twist on the story of Mulan, for those expecting the Disney version. Hattori Mariko is the wealthy daughter of a daimyo and the twin sister of a fearsome samurai. She's been promised to the Emperor's son and is on her way to the capitol, Inako, to complete the arrangement.
Danger strikes, and things don't work out as planned. To bring justice and honor back to her family, she decides to dress as a man and infiltrate a group known as the Black Clan to both find out why she was being targeted and to get revenge.
From there, Mariko is sent on a journey where she learns the truth about her family, the nobility, the Black Clan, and even her own gender.
Ahdieh managed to create a compelling character in Mariko that could rival Mulan herself: she's inventive, witty, and intellectually brilliant, but with many faults. She can be too calculating, often playing mental chess with herself for paragraphs at a time, or too prone to judging others based on perception. In fact, this latter quality drives a lot of the book. She also is ignorant of what is around her, and quite often finds herself intellectually superior or knowledgeable about everything. For me, however, this made her stronger as she realized her flaws and transformed from the beginning of the book to the end.
The supporting characters surrounding Mariko are just as strong but flawed, from Ranmaru to Okami to Yoshi. The relationships are believable and well developed and defined, showing both their good and bad sides, and realistic for the time period the story takes place. In the end, I found myself invested in many of the side characters and the overall romance surrounding Mariko and Okami.
There were a few flaws to this tale, as there are for every book. One of the biggest in my opinion is the mysterious event involving Kenshin towards the middle of the book. Not much is explained, and it feels quite out of the blue and confusing. I understand this will likely become a plot point and something explained in future books in the series, but right now it seems so sudden and completely warped the character into someone very different than he was in the beginning.
My last gripe was mentioned briefly earlier, which was Mariko's mental dialogue which could take paragraphs and became repetitive at times. While this established the character and what she was like, it could become tiring and cause my immersion to lose a little bit of its hold. However, this was only really a problem in the beginning.
Overall, this book was a great start to a series I'm very interested in following from here on out. In fact, the sequel will be going on my "To Read" list very shortly. If you love strong women, ancient China, a touch of magic, romance, and a lot of questions left once you finish, this book is for you. I highly recommend it.
I received this ARC from the First to Read program in exchange for a voluntary and honest review. I was in way compensated for this review.
I loved Renée Ahdieh's The Wrath and the Dawn duology! It was so beautifully written and told, so when I saw Flame in the Mist on the First to Read page, I knew I couldn't allow Fate to take control this time, so I cashed in on the points I had stacked up and got myself a guaranteed copy! Sadly, in my addled mind, I can't remember if I heard that this was a sort of Mulan retelling? Perhaps? Maybe. Really wish I could remember where I heard these things! LOL!
Mariko is our heroine who is on her way to meet her soon-to-be husband, for we're in that time where fathers sell off their daughters to the highest bidders. Plus, being one of the sons of the emperor will put her family in his good graces and they'll be financially taken care of. But on her way, her convoy is attacked, everyone is killed and she's left for dead and assumed dead. But Mariko is a survivor and she manages to get herself out of the fire (quite literally) and her attackers are none the wiser.
She believes she was attacked by the dreaded, Black Clan. They're the big bad in the area and they're know to raid towns and villages, stealing whatever they want, hurting whoever they want, and killing whoever they want. Mariko decides she's going to get her revenge on them and find out why they attacked her. Who hired them? In order to do so, she will have to hide her girlish figure, so like the Mulan we all know (and love), Mariko assumes the identity of a young man. Though her intention of joining the Black Clan goes a little haywire, she is nevertheless brought into the fold.
I'm not sure if a lot of my struggles came from this being an ebook or something else. Leaning towards the former, because I wanted to love this one soooo bad! This is, yet again, a whole new culture for me! And I did learn that there is a glossary in this one, but since this was an eARC it was increasingly hard for me to access it back and forth and eventually I just gave up. Perhaps with the physical book I might have been able to get a better understanding of things, as it was, I was able to understand a fair amount of the information.
Though another thing that wasn't too helpful were the multiple points of view. I know we had this last time in her previous series, but I couldn't help but feel like it didn't flow as nicely as before. Again, maybe this is because I was reading the eARC version, I feel like there are certain books I NEED to read in their physical format verses electronic. I know, it's weird, but since there is a glossary in the back I feel like it's not all that weird for me to say this! LOL!
And as in Mulan, we have in her our Shang, except his name is Okami. He's not exactly the warm and fuzzy type either. He and Mariko don't exactly hit it off either. Mariko struggles to earn her place within the Black Clan and at the same time try to figure out why they would attack her convoy. The mystery leader, Ranmaru is just as closed off as Okami.
It was at the point where we had two young men in the vicinity that I wondered which one would be the other half to our OTP. I was hoping there wouldn't be a love triangle scenario, and thankfully, Renée avoids that scenario! And while I won't say who from these two young men is Mariko's soon to be true love, I will say that I was quite surprised! Plus his character is just as mysterious and secretive as Mariko! It will definitely make for interesting times in the next one!
And it seems in true Renée fashion will continue to write very steamy kissing scenes! Oh my was I swooning with this one!! And even though there are kisses, it seems the romance will be far from easy for our characters!
The ending was pretty astonishing as well! There were so many shocking twists and turns! Because as I said, there's more than one storyteller here, and while things kind of run as anticipated with Mariko's portion, there was a startling development in that last chapter that I totally didn't see coming!
While not a perfect read, Flame in the Mist was still an enchanting sort of read! There's a lot I felt overwhelmed by and perhaps it was just the exposure to new territory that had me struggling at times. And again, blaming the ebook-ness and not being able to easier access that glossary, that made it harder for me to fully understand all the terms I was reading. I still enjoyed this one despite those struggles though and because I am the stubborn sort I will most definitely be reading the next one! Just perhaps waiting for the actual physical copy so I can better access the glossary!
Flame in the Mist is a fantasy that is sure to delight and amaze you! It's a colorful story rich in culture and I cannot wait to see how it will end!
Overall Rating 4/5 stars
Flame in the Mist releases May 16, 2017
I enjoyed this book, the lyrical narrative and tendrils of magic woven throughout made for a quick read. Mariko and her party, were ambushed of which she was the sole survivor. She stumbles into an enchanted forest inhabited by yokai. In order to survive she dons male clothes as a disguise, then following clues that a band of robbers are responsible for the attack she meets the Black Clan and begins an adventure that changes her life and perceptions and meets an exasperating boy who claims her heart. The main character is intelligent but flawed and the love interest is intriguing and mysterious.
I just knew this book was going to be amazing. Epic. Entertaining.
It was all of those things, but it was so, so much more.
Mariko is the daughter of a prominent Samurai and has been groomed all her life for a political marriage that would elevate her father's status. A marriage is arranged between Mariko and Minamato Raiden, the son of the Emperor and his favorite consort. On her way to the city of Inako, the imperial city, her entire party is ambushed and killed by the Black Clan. Except Mariko. While escaping the ambush, she learns that someone hired the Black Clan to kill her before she could reach the palace in Inako. Knowing that if she returns home, she would lose her opportunity to learn who wants her dead, Mariko devises a plan. First step? Infiltrate the Black Clan. Before she can put her plan into motion, she is taken prisoner by the Black Clan. To survive, Mariko relies on her keen intelligence and is forced to live beyond the well protected existence she had before. The more time she spends with the Black Clan, the more she questions everything she thought she knew, including who is in the right, who is in the wrong, and the many shades in between.
In the meantime, Mariko's brother Kenshin, known as the Dragon of Kai, searches for her in the Juaki Forest, where he finds reason to believe that Mariko did not die with the rest of her party. He begins his own search for answers.
The book shifts POVs and we see the web of deception that connects each of the characters and the consequences of their actions. This book is about power in all its forms. Each character, whether it's Mariko, Kenshin, the various members of the Black Clan, the Emperor, or even the Emperor's wife, struggle for power of some kind. Political power, the power to protect, power over their own destiny, power over one's body, or power over another. Each person has to decide what they are willing to sacrifice to gain said power.
Mariko's character is multifaceted, vivid, and flawed. Her strength lies in her wits and intelligence. Like a gifted chess player, she is always a few steps ahead of everyone around her and easily sees through the machinations of others. She quickly learns that while that might have been enough to thrive in her sheltered noble life, it takes more than that to survive with the Black Clan. Her growth as a person is natural and necessary, and she blossoms into this brilliant bad ass. Braver. Stronger. I loved it.
I want to get into the Black Clan and dissect each character but I feel that a large part of the joy of this book was going in pretty blind. I'm the kind of person that tends to read way too many reviews before reading a book, so this was really nice for a change. That and the fact going into everything I want to say would probably lengthen this review by an entire page. I feel like it's pretty long already, so I'm not even going to try.
The writing was just...stunning. There was a beautiful balance between sparse, direct sentences and entire passages of breathtaking imagery. Everything was written with a simple elegance that allowed so much to be said with so little. And what was said, was just beautiful.
There were surprising moments of wisdom that I found myself reading over and over again, trying to commit them to memory. Good thing I finally realized there is this awesome thing called paper. You know, so you don't have to memorize things. There is everything here. Romance. Magic. Mystery. Heart-pounding action.
The plot obviously bears a great resemblance to Mulan, which is fantastic. I'm less familiar with Mulan than other Disney movies, not because I didn't like it as much (I loved it) but because I didn't own it. So I've only seen it a few times. Everything I loved about it is here, but there is so much more. There is quite literally nothing I didn't love about this book.
First off, I would like to thank Penguin Random House for allowing me this chance to read the arc for this book.
Meet Mariko. A young woman who has always known that her future has been decided by others. Of course, this changes when her entourage is attacked by the Black Hand. Her handmaid is killed and Mariko, in her fury for revenge, cuts her hair shortly and goes after those who wanted to do her harm and find out who was the one who wanted her dead. She meets the members of the Black Hand and becomes entwined in their world but her identity as a boy is at risk especially when one finds out she is not a he but a young woman.
This book was beautiful in its characters and beautiful in its details. You found yourself transported to a time and a place where samurai and nobility of the feudal era ruled. Where Emperors decided the fate of others and rather than face dishonor, a warrior's honorary death meant suicide.
Mariko is a character who is not only cunning but also flawed. She knows that, unlike her brother, she cannot decide her own future...that her future has always been planned from the moment of birth, but when fate steps in and changes this, she steps into her brother's world (sort of) and seeks revenge against those who wanted to not only kill her but also killed her handmaiden.
I loved, loved this book. I had a hard time having to put it down just to go to work. It enthralled me, pulled me and made me think I was part of the scene watching the characters.
Now I will be looking forward to the next installment to this series. I cannot wait to see what happens with Mariko.
If you are looking for something like Mulan, then this book will definitely be for you.
I loved Renee's first two books and so I was very excited to read Flame in the Mist. I am happy to report this book did not disappoint! Just like her other books, Flame in the Mist is exquisitely written, wonderful and unique. I love how original the story is, it's inspired by Japanese folklore with some Robin Hood vibes. Flame in the Mist is unputdownable and unforgettable. I cannot wait for the second book and I want it right now!
I'm already a fan of Ahdieh's *The Wrath and the Dawn,* but I really love her latest YA fantasy series. I am seriously anticipating the second *Flame in the Mist.* Inspired by Mulan and 47 Ronin, this first book -- and the series -- is set in feudal Japan. The action is fairly constant, with the main character, Mariko, a whip-smart yet naive 17-year-old. The daughter of an ambitious samurai, she had been raised to be "a tribute to her family," in literal and figurative senses. A bloody ambush in a notorious forest derails her family's plans for Mariko and sets her on a twisting, thrilling, and liberating path of growth and discovery. The novel features the kind of slow-simmering, moth-to-flame romance I like -- between two characters who shouldn't be together except for the fact that they can't stay away from one another. The ending of this book sets us up for the second book to hit the ground running, but it also succeeds in resolving several conflicts, with major characters evolving in ways crucial to the narrative. "I thought I possessed all the answers. Or at least most of them," Mariko confesses in a Game of Thrones/Jon Snow-like moment. "Now I know I understand nothing."
I received an ARC Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh from First to Read of this title and I absolutely loved it. This is my first book that I have read by this author and I can tell you this will not be the last. I was absolutely entranced in this book and didn’t want to put it down until I turned the last page and I was extremely upset with how it ended. The characters just drew me into their lives and I just felt for the characters and this book just had me guessing on what was going to happen next and which character was going to surprise me next. I sincerely hope she writes another one and does it soon because it is tortured to be left hanging like this.
I absolutely loved this book, which does not surprise me at all as The Wrath and the Dawn books were two of my favorite books I read last year. It reminded me a bit of Mulan, with the whole "girl dresses up as a boy to become a warrior" plotline. I loved the way Mariko gets to know the Black Clan and comes to question all her preconceived notions about them, and the romance aspect was a perfect addition to the plot without taking over the whole story. Everything was beautifully written, which I have come to expect from this author. I read this book in a matter of hours, on the edge of my seat trying to figure out who wanted to kill Mariko and why, and the twist at the end was actually pretty surprising. I also really enjoyed the elements of Japanese culture and mysticism, as I haven't read many books with this setting before. I just wish it hadn't ended! I am very much looking forward to the next installment in Mariko's story. This one is highly recommended.
Absolutely loved this book. From start it has you on your seat trying to question Atleast parts of what happened and who is trying to kill Mariko, maybe only slightly felt may e the love interest was not enough slightly but still my fav fantasy of the year. And cool thing this book did is multi povs not much but some so I enjoyed that. So with that I can't wait for book 2.
I thoroughly enjoyed this beautifully written book. With solid characters developments and relatable personalities, all told by many points of view, you are pulled into this captivating world. The descriptions allow you to perfectly envision each interaction and every action sequence leaving you anxious to read more. Along with the compelling romance aspect, there are also interesting mystical elements as well as Japanese terms and cultural references adding to the already intriguing storyline. I could go on about this great book but I do not want to give away any spoilers. Trust me, you will be happy you waited to read it for yourself!
This book is so amazing!! Its left me wanting so much more right now! I really can't wait until book 2 ( I hope theres a book 2)! The story, the characters, the relationships...... I felt so dragged in like I was apart of it. I truly wanted to be there amongst the characters! This is by far my favorite book I've read in such an extremely long time! I highly recommend this book! You wont be disappointed!
A Flame in the Mist review:
A Flame in the Mist is a Mulan retelling of sorts, with a Japanese background.
If that one sentence isn't enough for you, let's talk writing. This book is incredibly well written, and it draws you in from the very start.
Almost immediately, you're completely immersed in the story. And furthermore, we are told the story through multiple points of view.
Generally, I find books with multiple points of view to be either a hit, or miss, but with this particular book it is nothing short of amazing.
Now let's talk to romance. Not the most important part of the book, but a compelling part nonetheless. I found myself falling in love with the characters, actually, before the characters! This whole book, from the characters, the culture, and the plot, pulls you in and holds onto you completely. You won't want to finish this book. I personally want to live in it forever.
I have pre-ordered my hardback copy already, and I am eagerly awaiting the sequel.
So far my favorite read of the year.
This book was absolutely fabulous! The characters were well developed and interesting with a intricate plot that grabs you from page one. This book has everything: intrigue, action, culture, and romance. I loved every second of it!
Flame in the Mist is a retelling of sorts of the tale of Mulan. Just like her other series The Wrath and the Dawn which was based off 1,001 nights. She flips the tale on it's head and delivers a heart racing and heart warming tale of a young brilliant girl who is out to take the world by storm.
The characters that she has developed in this story are so lifelike with their personality quirks and loveable and hateful natures with which you quickly learn to love, hate, or sometimes get really confused by. It has amazing paranormal aspects as well as in-depth Japanese culture that completely immerses you. The details, people, action scenes even smells are crafted in just the right way to never release you from this books grasp.
I would love to spill my guts out in spoilers about how much I love this new series but the review is spoiler free and the book hasn't been released yet so I will just say. If you love Mulan, Japanese culture, the unexplained, amazing characters, a heart wrenching pairing, epic fight scenes and funny interactions please read this book you won't be disappointed. This book for sure is on my all time favorites list and I am officially dying for book 2!!!!
Just like with the Wrath and the Dawn, I really enjoyed this story. Mulan is one of my favorite movies and though this isn't exactly a retelling, it still had those elements from Mulan that I loved. I could hardly put it down. The characters, especially Mariko, are fantastic. The writing is also great. I would highly recommend everyone go check this out.
Flame in the Mist is exactly what you would expect from Renee Ahdieh; A stunning novel that is worth five stars. You are taken for a ride by the many characters within the book especially feisty and spunky Mariko. Different POVs take you for a thrilling ride to the different eyes within the world. The fearsome and brave Kenshin and the cunning yet dazzling Okami weave a tale of what world is good and which is evil. Flame in the Mist leads you down paths with twists and turns that leave you breathless and expecting more. This is a book that will not let you put it down and when you do you will be running back for more. I breezed through the book within the day and I got lost within the world. I finished wanting more and (im)patiently waiting the sequel.
I can't go on this site no more. Can't download the files at all. So won't be able to read any books from here