Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh

Flame in the Mist

Renée Ahdieh

Renée Ahdieh weaves an entirely new tale of warriors, ninjas and royalty against a backdrop that's simmering with life.

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From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn, comes a sweeping, action-packed YA adventure set against the backdrop of Feudal Japan where Mulan meets Throne of Glass.
 
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 Black Clan and track down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she's within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she's appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she's ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.


Advance Galley Reviews

Ahdieh throws her readers directly into the action when Mariko's tale begins. The entourage of samurai taking her to the Imperial city is nervous. Their job is to take her to her newly betrothed, the son of the Emperor and his Consort, where she will live out the rest of her days well cared for even if not married to the Emperor-To-Be. They suggest going around the forest, but Mariko laughs and tell them to cut through. Soon, her caravan is attacked by a gang of men and everyone left for dead. Mariko, somehow, escapes with her life. This must be the infamous Black Clan who resides in these woods, known for their thieving, mischief, and complete disregard for bushido. Determined to find out the truth about why they would kidnap her, Mariko stumbles into infiltrating the Black Clan disguised as a boy. Adventures ensue. Okay, okay. That sounds really intense. But, honestly, the pacing didn't work for me for the first quarter of the book. I was really intrigued, but something about this tale didn't quite capture me. Yet, when it happened I was hooked. I didn't want to sleep or go to work, I just wanted to read this story. Most of my love falls with Mariko. She was raised in a sheltered, very privileged life. She is headstrong, intelligent, and has an analytical mind. While she understands to be a good daughter means to marry well and bring honor to her family, Mariko still rebels in her little ways. As the story progresses, we get to see what an unreliable narrator she truly is. Mariko is confronted with a very different picture of the world during her time with the Black Clan. She doesn't accept this openly. In fact, she assumes there is deceit around every corner. It's obvious to the reader that Mariko is lying to herself; trying to protect her own mind from the truth right in front of her. Watching Mariko transform over the course of the book from a sheltered, self-centered princess to a self-aware woman is engrossing. Her development, and the cross-dressing soldier aspect, resonated with me just as Mulan had-- and I love it just as much. There were two major things I struggled with, well, after I got past the first quarter of the book. The first is the excessively flowery language. I found it to be distracting. I understand the feudal Japan has many romantic ties to it related to the physical space and Japanese culture. But it was over the top for me. I didn't feel like real people would say some of those flowery lines. Plus the writing could be overly dramatic in an equally distracting manner. As this is my first Ahdieh book, I'll leave judgement on her writing overall, but Flame in the Mist just didn't deliver here. I also struggled with the magic system, or the complete lack thereof. There is certainly an element of magic in the book. It's introduced slowly and in small pieces. We never get a whole picture. I think that wouldn't bother me if it didn't so obviously drive the plot. I was frustrated when I couldn't tell if something was magical or not. Just give me a few rules to establish consistently and I'll be happy! Overall, a beautiful and intriguing start to Mariko's story, even if it began a bit on the slow side. There are some other amazing characters, political intrigue, and other plot points I never touched upon in my review. There is quite a bit left to untangle here. I look forward to seeing where Flame in the Mist goes from here. Thank you to First to Read and Penguin Teen for granting me an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Flame in the Mist was a really good story. Sometimes when I read books that are set in a culture I know not much about I can get lost, but the author did a great job with her explanations. I got a lost a bit though I can't lie and I am a bit unsure of the bigger picture that she is trying to create, but I think I have the gist so I am good. The thing I liked the most was the pacing of the story. It was quick and didn't feel like an almost 400 page book. Things moved, characters developed, and the story wrapped its way around with ease. My one problem is with Mariko. She needed to be a bit fiercer for me. I appreciated how the author chose to have her grow throughout the book, but I would've liked to have seen her be a bit tougher by the end. This one does end in a cliffhanger so be warned. That shouldn't dis way you from reading this though, it definitely deserves a read and the ending is rather fantastic so don't worry too much about the cliffhanger

I read The Wrath & The Dawn not too long ago. There were some things I liked about that book, but I didn’t enjoy itas much as I thought I would. As it turns out, I still liked The Wrath & The Dawn a whole lot more than the Flame in the Mist. What sucks is that I was actually looking forward to this one since it was the start of a new series, but I just didn’t enjoy it at all. Ultimately, I didn’t finish this one. What I liked mainly involved the atmosphere surrounding parts of the initial setting. It was spooky and mysterious, which was great. I liked that a lot. Unlike my reaction to The Wrath & The Dawn, the part of the Flame in the Mist that I did read had more moments where I got the emotional impact of the situation that the main character, Mariko, ended up in. However, my biggest problem was the main character. I felt like I was being told that she was a certain way but her actions constantly contradicted those statements. Maybe it got better, but by that point I just wasn’t interested in reading any further. I’m really sad that this one didn’t work out, but this was a case where it was me and not the book. It just wasn’t my cup of tea. In light of that, I don’t think I’ll be continuing on with this series. However, that’s just my opinion and I fully encourage you to find other reviews on it.

I gave this book the old college try. I love the cover and think it's one of the best I've seen this year. In addition, I was really interested in the first few chapters of this book because the action started right away and the cultural aspects were very interesting. However, I quickly bored and I found myself actually avoiding reading because I didn't want to pick up this book. I read about 145 pages into it and since there was still quite a bit to go, I decided it was best for me to move on. Had I not done so, I'd probably STILL be avoiding reading and there are too many good looking books on my shelf to do so. I didn't really connect with the characters and I found myself not really caring what happened. I don't know if I will ever pick this book back up some day. I've seen some people really love it and I've seen some who have struggled like I did. It's probably a good book for many readers out there, but it just wasn't for me.

I've waited to write this review to give myself time to digest the story and really decided what my thoughts were. Hopefully I'm able to accurately portray them now. Going into this book I had a whole lot of expectations. The two most prominent were the writing style and the retelling aspect. Renee Ahdieh has a unique writing style that was apparent in The Wrath & the Dawn. I had a slight problem with what I would call her obsession with describing eyes of the characters. Now this book did not have the problem for me (now it is very possible it was still there, I just did not notice it with this book). As for the retelling, this was touted as a Mulan retelling. Now Mulan is my favorite Disney movie, both now and growing up, and I did not want to be disappointed with this book. Spoiler: I was not. As for the actual book it was incredibly enjoyable and I loved the pace and how the story progressed. I never felt like we were spending too much time going through backstory or world building. I loved watching Mariko's views on her family, the empire, and the Black Clan change and evolve and she learned more and became more independent. We got to see her grow as a person both physically as well as growing in her understanding of why people do some of the things they do and the motivation behind every person's actions and choices. For me the strength of this book was its characters. I loved Mariko and her band of "friends". They each had a vital part to play in her journey through the forest as well as her personal journey learning who she truly is. The banter between Mariko, Okami, and Ranmaru was spot on and I loved how they relationships all came to fruition and we learned why past decisions had been made. That being said, this book left so many unanswered questions, is struggle to see how this can all be answered in only one more book. But I'm sure Renee has something up her sleeve. I cannot wait to see what happens with Mariko and the Black Clan going forward and how her family reacts to the decisions she made in this book. *Thanks to FirstToRead for a copy of the book*

Let me count the ways I love Mariko. Independent. Check. Fierce. Check. Brave. Check... I could go on and on and on, but then you'd never get to the end of this review... and then you'd never get to read this amazing book. This story is so rich in culture and the details paint such a fascinating picture I wanted to crawl into them and hang out for a while. Renee Ahdieh's writing is beautiful and I will read everything she writes. Yes, read this.

Even though I didn't care for Renee Ahdieh's first series Wrath and the Dawn I still really wanted to read this one. I must say I was not disappointed. When Mariko is being taken to her betrothed her convoy is ambushed by the notorious Black Clan. She finds out that they were hired by someone to kill her. So she dresses up as a boy to find out who hired them and why. I have to say I have a really liked Marikos character. She was a bit stubborn and hot headed but it worked for me. The romance was typical brooding bad boy meets girl who doesn't take his crap. You know the what I'm talking about. The kind of romance where the girl feels betrayed by her the way she feels for the boy who infuriates her haha. The one thing that got me was the names, I feel like she had a lot of characters and I could keep up with who was who. Sorry for any grammar mistakes.

This book blew me away. Mariko, the daughter of a prominent Samurai is sent to marry a prince of the royal family for political reasons and to advance her family. This arranged marriage will strengthen her family not only politically but also in wealth and holdings, but it throws Mariko into a political nightmare of murder, spies, rebellion, revenge and justice. When she is almost killed by a rebel force called the Black Clan on her way to her marriage, she is forced to seek out her own safety justice and revenge. She not only survives but for the first time in her life finds her place. Mariko thrives by killing an attacker stealing his stuff and joining the Black Clan as a boy. In a twist of events and an outstanding blend of Japanese mythology Mariko gains the trust of the Black Clan, truly finds her place, contributes technological ideas like the invention of the throwing star, falls in love, and learns the true state of the people, politics and suffering under the ruling classes from which she came. It was a shock for her to see the treatment of her own family to those they were over, their prejudice, and greed. Her twin brother is convinced she has survived and as a known enforcer Samurai and her brother is driven to prove not only that she is alive but to rescue her. He is misled by his family, politics and elitist ideology making it easy for others to manipulate him and for home to become confused by all that has happened and even what he sees. The characters are rich and full and the diacritics vividly written. the atmosphere throughout the story is intense, romantic and intriguing, wrought with danger. The strong female lead was refreshing and her need for revenge led to her growth and education in reality. It was a great journey watching her grow as a character. She showed her ability to overcome, create, be vital, love, and think for herself and in the end she became a strong loyal addition and fighter even though she was a female in a males world. Her journey from blissfully unaware to a true member of the Black Clan is outstanding. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Japanese historical fiction, Samurai war stories, mythology and fantasy.

I think the writing was done well. However, I didn't find all that enjoyable because of the multiple POVs. It simply isn't a writing style I'm huge fan of to begin with. I didn't finish it, but maybe I will at a later point.

I didn't see too many Mulan similarities in this work. I don't think it works to call it a Mulan retelling The writing was well done but didn't really hold my interest. I must say it read like any other ya fantasy with nothing to set it apart. Sadly this book was just a take it or leave it for me.

So, the only thing I really knew going into this book was that I kept hearing this compared to Mulan. It isn't, really. Well, if a girl dressing and pretending to be a boy is an automatically comparison to Mulan, then sure. But story-wise, it's not Mulan; however, Flame in the Mist is its own wonderfully adventurous story. The story is magical, fun, and full of death. The death count in this book is shockingly high. Even within the first 50 pages, there are characters dying all over. I guess in a morbid way, that makes this 100% my kind of book. We first meet Hattori Mariko, being sent in a caravan to her future husband, the emperor's second son. Mariko is the daughter of a samurai and in Feudal Japan, a daughter to further alliances and a chance to move a family up in status. She grew up with a brother and wanted nothing more than to make something of herself - through science or otherwise. When her caravan is set to flames in a forest, the immediate culprit is the Black Clan. They're a notorious group and Mariko sets her sights on finding the Black Clan to try to uncover why they wanting to have her killed. I loved this book a lot. Even more so than the author's other stunningly enriching books - The Wrath and the Dawn, and The Rose and the Dagger. I absolutely loved the way the story unfolded and the secrets that swirled around the emperor, the Dragon of Kai (Mariko's brother Kenshin), and the members of the Black Clan. Mariko is charming and a complete badass. This book is addicting and just so much fun to read. I think the story did get slightly confusing at times, though, surrounding the past drama involving the emperor, Ranmaru (the leader, a ronin, of the Black Clan), and Okami, his second. It takes a while to unravel as the story progresses, but the ending helps to clarify the story a bit. Even with romance seeming more like a subplot in this case, I was so excited to see it bloom. And when the characters finally kissed, everthing seemed to escalate very quickly. I loved reading about Okami and his almost mysterious powers. There's definitely an underlying magical sense in this book where some things seem like it couldn't realistically happen, but still winds up being entirely believable. Renee Ahdieh has created a world that is rich and feels so real. I appreciated that many words were left in Japanese throughout the book and manages to weave so much of the culture into this story. Flame in the Mist is a beautifully, well-written, complex, enchanting novel. I love that Mariko is less of a warrior, and more of a critical-thinking strategist. I loved the Black Clan members, even though they're bordering on whether or not they can be trusted since Mariko didn't know if they had put out the hit on her or not. I absolutely cannot wait to read the next book in this series, because the book ends with a bit of a cliffhanger and I need the second book now. I highly recommend this book for readers who enjoyed Renee's previous books, or if readers just enjoy awesome heroines!! ***Thanks to Penguin Random House and First to Read for providing me an ARC***

This book is beautifully written, and while the story had potential...it struggled to keep my interest. The characters read like every other YA adventure story character of the last five years, unfortunately. Gorgeous writing alone couldn't sustain the book for me. Honestly, I think my expectations were too high; like other readers, the comparison to Mulan tripped me up. (If you want a book that's REALLY like Mulan, go read Eon/Eona.) If you go into this book with that expectation, you're going to be disappointed.

Not remembering much about the Mulan story, other than what I remember from watching the Disney movie version, I was very excited to read this story. It started off with a bang. Mariko is on her way to be married to the Emperor's son. Her wagon is ambushed and everyone is killed except for her. She ends up finding her way through an enchanted forest and becomes part of the Black Clan, a notorious group of thugs. The kicker is that she joins this group dressed as a man. Everyone is fooled-really how did she live with them for weeks and they didn't suspect?? Anyways, after Mariko joins the Black Clan and we get to know its' members the story starts to sag and the action fades. I didn't need the romance. I wanted more action, more myth and magic. I realize that the author is creating a series here and needs to build up characters and plot, but I struggled to finish this and won't be continuing the series.

The story begins with seventeen-year-old Mariko being sent to her soon to be husband, an arrangement done to earn her parents a little political power. She hates what they've done, so when her group is attacked, and everyone but her killed, she seizes the chance for freedom and revenge. Certain the Black Clan committed the crime, she disguises herself as a boy and seeks them out. But there are many people plotting around her life--and the lives of the Black Clan--plots that will place her in further danger. If she can survive, perhaps she can win some happiness for herself. I wished this story didn't have a romance in it, as at times it felt artificial and forced, but it serves a big enough part of the plot it would be a very different story without it. Though I'm still not sure it wouldn't be a better book... Regardless, the protagonist is interesting to read about, driven by complex motivations, and willing to be ruthless to get what she wants. The difficulties facing her seem insurmountable, but somehow she gives me the faith that she just might manage to put things right.

Having heard so much about Renée Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn (which, alas, I still have not read), I jumped at the opportunity to read Flame in the Mist. I was even more thrilled to find out that the book is set in feudal Japan and is loosely based on the story of Mulan. Ahdieh builds the world very well, really making you feel as though you’ve been transported to another time and place. The eARC has a glossary of Japanese words at the end, but I never really felt the need to consult it because the context clues were often enough to glean the meaning of any unfamiliar terms. Where the book faltered for me, and it always pains me to say this, was with its protagonist. Mariko is the type of heroine who makes a lot of epic statements about how much ass she’s going to kick but doesn’t really follow through. She talks about female empowerment and becoming more than the dutiful daughter marrying to elevate her family’s status, but by the end of the book, I wasn’t quite convinced that Mariko had transformed into the fierce warrior she thought she was. I found her decision-making skills lacking, despite the frequent mentions of her keen mind. I wish that there had been more demonstrations of Mariko’s keen mind to back up the references to it. I also expected a bit more to the plot than just Mariko’s quest to worm her way into the Black Clan, the group of bandits she believes tried to kill her, in order to learn who hired them. The novel occasionally cuts away to follow Mariko’s twin brother Kenshin, the famed samurai known as the Dragon of Kai, as he searches for his sister. As with Mariko’s arc, there wasn’t a whole lot more to Kenshin’s than finding his sister. Flame in the Mist features some hints of magic that definitely left me looking for more than hints. What is this magic? How does it work? Why can certain characters wield it? I felt as though the details weren’t all filled in so that readers would be eager to find out more about the magic in the sequel. I needed answers to at least a few questions with this book, though. Another underwhelming aspect of the novel for me was the romance. Most of the time, I absolutely adore romances that start out rocky but do a slow burn into swoon-ville. I just wasn’t swept away by the love story here; the relationship didn’t develop gradually enough for me. I thought the two characters involved went from loathing to love without much of a transition in between. Aside from the setting, I couldn’t find a lot to get invested in. Mariko didn’t quite fit my notion of a badass heroine, and the magic wasn’t explained adequately. The next book might provide the details, but I’m not curious enough to read it for that reason alone.

3 stars Plot: Guys. Flame in the Mist doesn't take any prisoners! It opened with Mariko being transported to her betrothed, the first son of the emperor who does not have a claim to the throne. On the way, her envoy was attacked by a vicious clan slaughtering everyone but her. In order to survive, Mariko disguised herself as a young man and crossed paths with the deadly Black Clan once again. Mariko entered a deadly game of deception by trying to get close to the clan leaders and learning who paid them to kill her. I know this is very unfair, but I can't help but hold this book to The Wrath and the Dawn and Flame in the Mist just can't compete. I took me the better part of the novel to get my groove with this book because it was a rather slow book. Despite being told from multiple perspectives, it never felt like much was uncovered. The last third of the book is nothing but hard-hitters and it seems like Book 2 will be more action-packed. Characters: Mariko was a beautifully written character, and I loved how much time Renee allowed for introspection. In feudal Japan, a woman was only worth the amount of her dowry and political connections, and Mariko was offered the rare opportunity to experience the freedom of being a man and realize just how many life experiences she was excluded from. This novel was told from various perspectives, mostly Mariko's, but her brother also had chapters from his perspective as well as other key players. I wish the chapters told from other perspectives were more consistent and provided more background to Mariko's predicament. And lastly, the romance. We all know the general skeleton of Mulan, and I was curious to how Ahdieh would write the romance. From Mariko's perspective, it was obvious who she was gravitating toward, but because we were given very few chapters from the love interest's perspective, it was hard to determine how he felt about Mariko, disguise and all. Worldbuilding: Bless that glossary that Renee Ahdieh included in the back of the book, it was much appreciated! It was easy to fall in love with feudal Japan and the author was fantastic in portraying the culture and customs. If you know Renee Ahdieh, you know she loves to write about food and Flame in the Mist was no exception. I just wanted to cook the entire time I was reading this! There is a bit of magic mentioned in Flame in the Mist that was never fully addressed. The magic was something that was accepted by everyone in the world, but it was unclear who possessed magic. Hell, even the trees were magic. I got lots of questions about that. Short N Sweet: Flame in the Mist is an interesting take on Mulan that would have used a bit more polishing.

Mariko, the daughter of an influential samurai, finds she has few choices in life. Though she is intelligent, skilled, and driven, her place is to marry the son of the emperor and do her duty to her family. But when her convoy is attacked by the Black Clan on her way to the imperial city, Mariko escapes and finds herself alone. Using her cunning, Mariko infiltrates the Black Clan in disguise, and she soon learns there is more to the story of this rogue gang that she had imagined. She also finds that the Black Clan values her knowledge and skills in a way her family never seemed to do. And as she grows closer to the Black Clan's leader, she finds she may need to make a hard decision about whether her duty to her family is the most important thing for her to consider. I was a little uncertain of what to expect when I started this book, having only scanned the blurb but hearing a lot of buzz about it beforehand. It is certainly an intriguing story, one where history, social class, and vengeance are big influencers on the lives and actions of the characters. There are a few surprises along the way, which keep the story interesting, and it does a good job of setting up the rest of the series. I will note that while I have seen some categorizations of this as a young adult book, I question that--or at least place some caveats--because of some graphic depictions of violence that may not be appropriate for younger readers.

Flame in the Mist, you had me at “dangerous gang of bandits.” Authors, publishers, listen up – if you ever want to get me to read your book, all you have to do is make the slightest mention of thieves, bandits, or other disreputable rogues and I will be at the bookstore or library in a flash. These sorts of characters are my kryptonite, and the ones in Flame in the Mist are especially delightful. Flame in the Mist follows the adventures of Hattori Mariko, a young woman whose traveling party is attacked on the way to Mariko’s wedding. Though she survives, Mariko is presumed dead, and she takes advantage of the newfound freedom this brings from obligation and expectation. Disguising herself as a boy, Mariko strikes out in pursuit of the Black Clan, the notorious band of thieves she presumes to be responsible for the attack. Her hope is to bring them down from the inside, and thus prove to her family that her worth goes beyond that of her value as a bride. The Black Clan members are everything a rascal-loving reader could wish for. First off, there’s Ranmaru, their leader. He’s young, sharp, and canny, too clever by half. Then there’s his right-hand man, Okami. Known as the Wolf, Okami is the Black Clan’s deadliest warrior. He’s enigmatic, dangerous, and aloof, and his interactions with Mariko are my favorite parts of the book. The two needle one another constantly, and Mariko is both annoyed by Okami and drawn to him. “‘If you were me, you would have done the same thing.’ She could not prevent her voice from quavering on the last word. ‘No, I wouldn’t.’ Okami’s dark brows lowered. Shadowed his gaze. Something tugged at his lips. ‘I would’ve succeeded.’” Mariko herself is an interesting character, though I’m not sure I can truthfully say I like her. She has certain traits that I respect, and I could sympathize with her, but there’s something about Mariko that kept me from fully connecting with her. I did appreciate that she seems like a real person; not annoyingly inept, but not unrealistically capable, either. I like that she knows her own limitations and goes about finding ways to work around them. Likewise, she is able to acknowledge disappointing truths and deal with them accordingly. She’s smart and a quick study, but still errs and misjudges from time to time. She has weaknesses and flaws and frustrations, the most interesting of which is her resentment of the strictures placed upon her as a woman. She aches to prove herself and rages against her femininity like a trapped moth beating its wings against a glass jar. “Mariko suddenly felt acutely aware of her appearance. Almost self-conscious. A feeling she disdained. So much like a girl, despite all her efforts to the contrary.” During Mariko’s time with the Black Clan, she attempts to insinuate herself into their ranks. She’s at a disadvantage among the older, tougher men but does everything in her power to show herself as willing and able to contribute. At the same time she works to unravel the mysteries surrounding the band. Ranmaru and Okami are particularly inscrutable. You get the sense that everyone in the book has secrets, and everyone is lying. You’re always trying to keep up and figure out who people are, what their motivations are, and whether they can be trusted. This constant second-guessing kept me engaged from beginning to end, so much so that I read the entire book in one sitting. “That same awful feeling of being mocked took hold of Mariko. Vicious, unrelenting hold. Making her feel so much smaller than those around her. So much less of everything when all she wished was to feel taller and stronger and braver. So much more. It made her afraid to be herself. Afraid these men would see how every step she took each day was a lie.” One last thing worth mentioning about Flame in the Mist is that it’s set in a magical version of feudal Japan. This means there are samurai, and bloodthirsty trees, and shape-shifting, and tea houses, and beautiful, mouth-watering descriptions of Japanese cuisine. I’m hopeful there’ll be even more of these things in the second book, which I will certainly be reading. There’s so much going on in the world of Flame in the Mist that I want to soak in as much of it as I can!

I feel really bad, but I couldn't get into this book. Somehow, it didn't manage to grab me. I was intrigued by the comparison to Mulan, even though I had also heard from others that it wasn't like Mulan at all (apart from a girl dressing up as a boy). But I just couldn't get myself to read any further, and I put it down before I passed the 100-page mark. Maybe I'll pick it up later this year, but for now I'm just going to let it rest.

Im just going to go straight off the bat and say that I ADORED this book. It had a spectacular "fight the patriarchy" style and was very feminist whilst being set in a very anti-feminist era. The culture was all-encompassing and (as far as I am aware) had little appropriation. And girls dressing as guys in historical settings? One of my favorite plot devises! The main character actually had INTELLIGENCE that actually MEANS something in the story, as opposed to it just being a reason that the MC is just "not like other girls," however, it also showed that she still had a lot to learn. The whole "anti-hero struggling with the concept of murder" idea was also very intriguing. The conversations seemed fresh and realistic, not to mention actually humorous sometimes. The author also did a spectacular job representing disability as just a characteristic, not the entire identity of a character. I enjoyed the complicated sibling-relationship dynamic and the policiacas side of the story, as well. In a world of special-snowflake, Americanized YA heroines, Flame in the Mist stands leagues ahead of the pack. The ending has me begging for another installment, and I will most DEFINITELY be reading more of Ahdieh's work in the future.

I thought this book was great. The only reason I'm not saying it's awesome is the romance. I usually don't understand romance in fiction because it's always so unrealistic but this one made no sense to me. Every other aspect of this book made me want more of the story though. I was drawn in early and was sad when it ended.

When I first heard about this, it was just an untitled book by Renee Ahdieh. And then the cover happened, and I was worried that the content couldn't be anywhere as good as the cover. And then I was able to read and review it, and I'm worried that the next book won't be anywhere near the AWESOME THAT THIS BOOK HOLDS. Mariko is headed out to her betrothed when her and her entourage are ambushed. She narrowly escapes and runs into those she holds responsible. The Black Clan. Mariko sets out to exact justice on them dressed as a boy in peasant clothes. But as she gets to know more about them, it seems she gotten herself into more trouble than she bargained for. I LOVED Mariko. I wanted to add that as my review, but I didn't think that would be enough and wouldn't give you all a real look into the book lol But seriously, I loved her. She was super strong, resilient, and so smart. She was EVERYTHING a warrior was supposed to be. I also loved the other characters and loved uncovering all their secrets. And trust me, this story was covered with them. I also really loved how dark Ahdieh went for this one. There were actual war scenes and fighting and samurais and OMG. I mean her first series was dark too (I mean 1,001 nights lol) But this one just seemed MORE and I really liked that change from her. Then there was the plot. This is where my only complaint was. It felt kind of slow. I felt like it was a bit of a set up book (and when you get to the end, you will definitely understand why). But I chalked it up to being a duology, so it WAS a set up book in theory. But then there was the ending, and it made up for it. So much so, that I found myself still flipping pages trying to find the rest of the book because there just had to be MORE you know? (Also, I know I was in love with this book because normally I HATE cliffhangers, but this one was so twisted I LOVED it lol) I also loved the Japanese folklore that was found in this. Like the jubokko was super creepy, but I enjoyed learning about it so much I did further research on it. I wanted to find the folklore containing it and read more about it. In short, this book was everything I wanted and more and I can't wait to get the next book in my hands. At this point, Ahdieh is quickly turning into one of those authors that I will buy anything from, no matter what its about.

I couldn't get into this book, so I didn't finish it. Maybe I'll pick it up later, but I don't something about authors writing about other cultures just feels off to me. This feels like such an overdone trope even though the writing itself was interesting. I couldn't get into it.

HOLY. CROW. What a story! This is only the first book in a new series by Renee Ahdieh and I already want more. Short recap: Mariko is on her way to meet her betrothed when her carriage is attached by The Black Clan. She alone survives the attack and in order to stay alive, she dresses and acts like a boy. She also devises a plan to infiltrate The Black Clan and take them down from within. This book was action packed from the very start. It is loosely categorized as a Mulan retelling and who doesn't want to read that?! It is set in feudal Japan and I was quickly swept away into the breathtaking world Renee created. I normally would struggle with books like this because of the names and setting, but I followed this with no problem. I swear Renee has a gift and talent with the written word. This was packed full of Japanese mythology, samurai, secrets, lies, and betrayals. Plus.... she includes just the right amount of smoulder and sexiness to make things really steamy. I could not get enough of this story. I enjoyed all of the characters in this story. The more I got to know them, the more I realized that everyone had something to hide. Everyone had a secret they would die to protect. I did like reading a story about a strong female protagonist who was struggling to break the mold of what women in that timeframe were supposed to be. Mariko was not going to sit back and be a meek housewife. She had a strong will and was incredibly logical. I found myself wanting to be more like her. She never backed down and she never gave up. Admirable traits. I also found myself being drawn to Kenshin's character more and more. I admired his determination to find his twin at whatever cost. It almost reminded me that not every character was perfect. He himself had secrets he would prefer stayed buried. Even the side characters in this story all had a huge role to play. They all contributed to the overall story and I loved that. This book was not without its faults, I'll be honest. The main one that sticks out to me was that Mariko did not always make the smartest decisions. She is brilliant and a very logical thinker, so it irritated me when she made simple, stupid mistakes. But honestly, Mariko did not always make these kind of mistakes so I can only list once or twice that it happened. If that is the most negative thing I can think of, I believe that is okay. Overall, I ship this book so hard. I loved every page, every character, every setting. Renee has a gift, I'm sure of it. She could write down her grocery list and I'm sure it would be masterful. This author will always be an instabuy because she can not write a bad story. Please, add this to your TBR if it isn't already there. It needs to be there. You need this story in your life.

I don’t really know what to make of the novel in the end. I gave it a generous 3 stars, but it’s more like two and a half. While I can appreciate the journey of inner strength from the main character, Mariko, I didn’t actually like her all that much. I found the first 100 pages or so incredibly boring. The novel is beautifully written, the scenery is fantastic and the descriptions are vivid and lyrical. The fantasy setting in a Japanese world is fascinating. All marks of a fantasy I should love. But personally, I just could not get into the plot. I found Mariko almost aloof, I didn’t get much of a sense of personality from her at all. I couldn’t connect with her character in a way that would make me as a reader care about what happened to her. That being said, as the novel progressed, the plot did get better and Mariko did show some pretty impressive growth and strength. She’s definitely intelligent and determined, you have to give her that. On the way to her politically arranged marriage her carriage party is attacked by a notorious mercenary group the Black Clan. Mariko survives the attack and doesn’t cower in fear. She’s furious and decides she wants to know the reasons behind. Disguising herself as a boy, she follows the Black Clan and worms her way in. Back in her home province, Mariko’s twin brother Kenshin, is convinced she survived the assassination attempt. Other plots include devious goings on between the Emperor and his Mistress who seems to have some hint at dark dangerous magic and her own political agenda. The Empress who seems quite passive but there’s more to her than meets the eye. The Emperor’s legitimate son (Mariko’s intended) and the illegitimate son with their own squabbles. And while all this is going on Mariko in the guise of a boy is uncovering the inner secrets of the Black Clan. Of course there are lots of plot twists and everyone has secrets of their own. Mariko uncovers some shocking truths about the lands she came from and how her lord father runs them, and must decide where her true loyalties lie. There’s a romance agenda as well for Mariko when the truth about her identity is revealed. There are secrets within the Black Clan itself. The plot did improve as the novel goes on and starts getting more into the twisty secrets, there’s a barest hint of some sort of magic involved, but very little of it is explained. Though it’s enough to make the reader want to know more (or it certainly worked that way for me). While Mariko was a difficult character to warm to, her journey throughout the novel is impressive, even with a kind of predictable romance, I want to know what happens next. Thank you to Penguin First to Read.

I did not want this book to end. From the first pages we are emerged into a honor-driven but brutal world of feudal Japan, and with it are minds are tied into the life and survival of Mariko, our heroine. On her journey from home to her arranged marriage, Mariko's litter pauses briefly to warn of the dangers of going through the forest (the infamous Sea of Trees, Aokigahara), but they press onward and are ambushed by the Black Clan. Everyone is slaughtered except for Mariko, who only survives as her handmaiden covers her with her own body, and Mariko escapes the litter while it is burning and makes her way deep into the forest, shedding her enflamed clothing and attracting the attention of one of the clansmen. She outsmarts him, and takes his knife, cuts off her hair, and starts to plan her revenge as she learns that the Black Clan was hired to kill her. While the story has drawn inspiration from Mulan, which was set in China, this story also draws comparisons to 47 Ronin and other tales. I enjoyed the use of description in building the sense of place in Japan, though I did wonder at times if it was visually descriptive enough for those who are not at all familiar with the architecture and cultural references used within. For me, it was just the right amount of description to go along with a well paced plot and arc. It seemed overall well-researched, though I did wonder about the use of the Sea of Trees which seems to be popping up in a lot of movies recently so was a little trendy for my taste, but did make me consider how the forest was during that time period versus the modern reports on the forest. Mariko is officially one of my favorite heroines, not only for her bravery, intuition, and cunning, but also for her missteps, empowerment, and self-awareness. Ahdieh did a wonderful job of making her weigh her choices and evaluate her feelings in her decision making, however imperfect some people may see that as. She was humanized and engaged and full of spirit. The book was packed with action and bloodshed, but also romance and coming-of-age themes. If you were a fan of The Wrath & The Dawn, Ahdieh's The Flame in the Mist will be a perfect fit and offer a whole new dense, atmospheric setting to immerse yourself in. Highly recommend this book for those seeking adventure.

After absolutely loving The Wrath and The Dawn duology, The Flame in the Mist was one of my most anticipated reads of 2017. While the writing was still beautiful, the story felt a little flat to me. Rather than connecting me with the world, the writing distanced me. I was never quite able to connect with any of the characters or caring about the story. I thought that all of the characters were very interesting but wanted to see more of them. I wanted to see how Mariko interacted with the other characters in the novel in day-to-day life instead of the little snippets we got. The last third of the book was the best - the overly descriptive writing started to take the backseat to the story. I really enjoyed the tangled web that Ahdieh wove in this book and I'm excited to see where it goes next. I did like Mariko as a character. I do wish that we had been able to witness more of her various skills in conversation and interactions with others, I felt like we were more told who she is as a character rather than shown through her actions. She was also somewhat immature and a bit selfish. The romance never really felt real to me and I wasn't a huge fan of how it unfolded. Also, I wish there had been stronger world-building, I was frequently confused about the role and prevalence of magic and sometimes confused as to how their society functioned. While there are definitely some flaws with the story, it was an overall good read and I do plan on continuing with the series.

I have to admit that I had a little bit of a hard time getting into Flame in the Mist at first. I don’t know if this is due to the pace of the book, the writing style, or just because I’ve been reading a lot of contemporary lately. But while it took me awhile to get into it, Flame in the Mist ultimately ended up being a really great read and I can 100% understand why so many readers love Ahdieh’s writing. The biggest complaint I have about Flame in the Mist is that the pace was slow for quite awhile. Normally with fantasy books, I’d expect that to be due to either world-building or because it’s setting up for the events of a series, but these don’t really explain the slow pacing for this one. It took me almost half the book to really feel as though there was a lot going on, but I can say that the second half of the book definitely makes up for the first half in action. Some of the pacing issues might actually just be because Ahdieh has a relatively descriptive writing style so that might be less of a reflection on the quality of the book and more of a “Kourtni just doesn’t really get along with descriptive writing” thing. But enough with my complaints. Overall, Flame in the Mist is a really great story. Mariko is an awesome main character. She’s badass and doesn’t want others to be able to decide her future for her. She grows a lot over the course of the story, as she is forced to step outside the comforts of her privileged life and learn to survive. We also see her get a new perspective on things and try to reconcile what she’s grown up knowing with what she is learning about now. Her character development not only feels authentic but was very interesting to watch unfold. I also thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the members of the Black Clan. You aren’t really sure what to think of them throughout most of the story, but you quickly get the sense that the way they’re viewed by most people is not necessarily how they deserve to be viewed. I liked getting to know them better both through their interactions with Mariko and with each other. Like I already mentioned, the last half of the book has a lot that happens. The ending especially is pretty intense. Because of this, the wait for the second book is going to be a long one. If you don’t like cliffhangers, you might want to wait for book two before you read this one, haha. Although Flame in the Mist wasn’t perfect, it’s still a very strong novel and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. I can definitely understand why so many people love Ahdieh’s books so much and I can’t wait to read more from her.

On the surface, Flame in the Mist seemed like it had everything I ever wanted: a delectable premise complete with complex world-building featuring a setting inspired by Feudal Japan, as well as solid protagonists including a crossdressing heroine at its center who has even been compared to Mulan, the warrior woman from Chinese legend. And indeed, I wanted badly to love this book, but on deeper reflection, I feel it may have missed the mark here. Mariko is the daughter of a samurai, fated to be a bartered off in a political marriage while her twin brother Kenshin, already a renowned warrior in his own right, will be the one to take up their father’s mantle. At seventeen years old, she is arranged to be married to the Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort, and is packed off along with a full convoy to accompany her to the imperial city of Inako. On the way there, however, their wagon train is attacked by a group of bandits known as the Black Clan, and only by sheer luck does Mariko manage to escape the bloody massacre. With everyone thinking she is dead, for the first time in her life Mariko can finally take control of her own destiny. She learns that someone had hired the bandits to ambush and kill her before she can reach the palace, and now she’s determined to find out who. Donning the disguise of a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan. But as she soon discovers, a life of banditry isn’t easy. The head of the gang, a wandering ronin named Takeda Ranmaru is a skilled fighter with a sharp mind who keeps a tight watch on his men, and his second-in-command is his best friend named Okami who is extremely loyal to his leader. Gradually though, Mariko gains their trust, allowing her a glimpse into the inner workings of the Black Clan as well as the dark history which led to the friendship between the two young men. Meanwhile, her brother Kenshin is also hot on Mariko’s trail, believing her to be still alive. In his persistence to track her down, he does not realize that his actions are threatening to expose Mariko and bring down everything she has planned. To be clear, I did not think Flame in the Mist was a bad book. There were, however, a couple things that really bothered me. First was the character of Mariko, who was less than impressive, to say the least, considering how her much vaunted intelligence and cunning did not manifest. It actually pains me to see her character compared to Mulan, because Mulan was capable and did everything for the love of family, while Mariko was ineffective and was driven by her own pride and hubris. I think what nettled me the most was the fact we were constantly beaten over the head with how smart she was, or how she was always able to best her opponents because of her astounding talent for reading people and so on and so forth. This is exactly why authors should always try to show and not tell, not least because you want to avoid looking foolish when what you are telling is nowhere close to what is being shown. When I looked at Mariko, I saw a girl who wore all her emotions on her sleeve, who would turn into a tongue-tied idiot every time she was caught off guard (which happened a lot), and who couldn’t lie convincingly if her life depended on it. She would have been killed many times over if the leaders of the Black Clan had not inexplicably given her a pass for all her missteps and transgressions, and I simply could not be persuaded to believe Mariko could have made it as far as she did by means of her own limited judgement and insight. Then there was the romance, which had all the poise and finesse of a reluctant skydiver being shoved out of plane. Too many YA reads are ruined for me these days because of poorly timed romantic developments, and you can add Flame in the Mist to that growing list. It felt too forced and rushed, not to mention the fact that Mariko’s choice of love interest also ended up projecting some major developments in the ending. If I could describe the romance here in one word, it would be: Hokey. The whole thing smacked of clichés, and sadly these hate-to-love stories have become so overdone and familiar in YA nowadays that if you’re not going to be adding anything new, I’m afraid I’m just not that interested. Finally, while I was prepping for this review, I went back to look at my notes for The Wrath and the Dawn and couldn’t help but notice that a lot of my issues with the author’s writing have cropped up again in Flame in the Mist. I can’t really put my finger on it, but something about Renée Ahdieh’s writing still strikes me as trying too hard. For one thing, she seems overly fond of her flowery descriptions and overwrought metaphors, and while I was more forgiving of the purple prose in her debut, I guess I’m just a little less willing to overlook it now. Despite my criticisms though, this book was a decent enough read, even with all its flaws. It is merely a disappointment because of its capitulation to convention and personally it’s a letdown whenever a protagonist fails to meet her full potential. But if you’re looking for a standard YA read to pass the time, Flame in the Mist is perfectly up to the task. I’ll put the sequel on my “might read” list for now, even though I’m pretty sure I know how things will play out.

Slow Start This book kind of took forever to pick up. :/ I mean, it had an interesting setting and some hints of intrigue and mystery, but those didn't arrive until later on in the story. The beginning of the book is definitely held up with lack of answers to endless questions and random elements of the world that lack explanation. Cliche I won't get into the details because this isn't the spoilers section, but much of the plot was cliche. I wouldn't necessarily say I knew what was going to happen, but when it all unraveled, I was a bit disappointed by the lack of surprise and ingenuity. Because of how things unfolded at the beginning of the story, I thought 'hey! maybe this will be different' and then the end hit and I was just like 'yup. not original after all.' Bland I could not stand the main character in this book. She doesn't really have a character arc at all. She's the same character in the beginning as she is in the end despite the author's attempts to make it seem like she's a whole new person. (she's not) And I did not like her. I think it has more to do with her not having a strong personality than anything else because I can't really say she wasn't 'strong' or 'smart' or something. She just... was bland. I didn't care what happened to her. Dialect Okay. This is just me being nit-picky, but there were a couple of slip-ups in the dialect used in the book. The world is built off Japanese culture. (I'm pretty sure it was intended to exist in a historical Japan with some magic, especially since it used many references to Japanese traditions.) That being said, many words should not have been used: 'heaven,' 'devil,' and a couple others. Those are words brought into common speak via Christianity and have no place in a Japanese society otherwise uninfluenced by Western society. Sorry, but no.

Can I say that I already preordered this book in hardcover because the cover is breathtakingly beautiful?! Such cover love here!!! Anyways, this was my first Ahdieh book and to sum it up, it's essentially a Mulan retelling annnnd throw in some ronin with a bit of Robin Hood! Which is not what I was expecting! I liked that she's diversifying between her series, a whole different culture and land and people to write about. I enjoy a good love/hate romance and this had it. I thought the romantic interest was going to be one person but ended up being someone else. The book really picked up about halfway through and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Mariko is kick-ass and the Black Clan are very mysterious and hey, there's some magic going on here!

Title: Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1) Author: Renée Ahdieh Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2017 (May 16) Genre: YA Fantasy, YA Retellings **I received a copy of this book free from Penguin First to Read in exchange for an honest review** This review can be found on my Blog @ TeacherofYA dot Wordpress dot com, TeacherofYA’s Tumblr, or my Goodreads page My Review: This book has been one of the most anticipated reads of the year. So when I got approved for a copy of this, I was over the moon. I got approved for this book, A Million Junes, and The One Memory of Flora Banks. While I now have the other two books in physical form, this book is now gone from my library because you don’t get to keep your review books from First to Read: they expire. So I still love looking at this beautiful cover and I know I must eventually get my hands on a copy of this book for my library. Just look at it… Breathtaking. Just breathtaking. And although it’s been hyped to an extreme… I think it deserves it. This book has been considered a Mulan retelling. Honestly…I’ve never seen the movie. (Please don’t hurt me!) Mulan came out in 1998, when I was a teen (I’m dating myself here). I wasn’t watching Disney movies; I was getting my learner’s permit and working my first job at Baskin Robbins. I never watched it but I knew the story: girl pretends to be boy to be warrior, or something like that. Figured there was a love story and eventually Disney would make a live-action remake, which I planned on watching at some point. But after this book…I think I’m going to go get my Disney on and watch Mulan. I guess the good thing about never seeing the movie is that I had nothing with which to compare the book. And I think that can be a good thing. Ok, but let’s get into Flame in the Mist, because that’s what I do…so I won’t keep you in suspense any longer, lol. Mariko is the daughter of a prominent family, a family that has now become even more prestigious because Mariko has been promised to Minamoto Raiden. Raiden is the Emperor’s son…not the son that will take the throne, but the son from his consort. Mariko will be taken care of the rest of her days and her family will rise in social status and wealth. On the way to the palace, Mariko’s caravan is attacked by the notorious Black Clan, thieves and bandits that have apparently been hired to assassinate Mariko. She narrowly escapes after the bandits flee from the fire they started, and she stumbles into the woods to figure out what to do. She realizes if she were to go to the palace now, after being attacked by the Black Clan and surviving, Mariko might be considered “damaged goods.” She also can’t go home; she would shame her family. After all, she is only a girl, and as one is thought of as property. Mariko decides she will go find the Black Clan and find out who ordered the assassination and why. She cuts her hair. She changes her clothes. She knows her brother, once he discovers Mariko is alive, will come and try to find her. But Mariko isn’t ready to go back yet. She needs answers. She needs to find the Black Clan. When she finds the Black Clan, she finds more than she bargained for. She knows they don’t trust her, but they (thinking she’s a boy) take her into the Clan. As she tries to understand these murderers, she learns about the leader, Ranmaru, and his closest confidant, Okami, the “wolf.” Okami, scarred and radiating an energy that can only be magic, doesn’t trust Mariko. He knows there’s something off with her. Is she a spy? Has she been sent to infiltrate and destroy them? Who is this mysterious “boy” that has joined the Clan? In the meantime, Mariko is trying to figure out the Black Clan and its motives…the “gangsters” aren’t behaving the way she suspected. She is constantly afraid that someone will discover her true identity and kill her, but she needs answers. She needs to know why anyone would want her dead. What would they gain? Mariko has an obstacle: Okami. He obviously doesn’t like her and doesn’t trust her. And she doesn’t like him either. She hates him. But why then does he make Mariko feel like her skin is alive when he is around? Why does she seek him out in a crowd? As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she starts to question all that she knows…are the Black Clan really the monsters she has been led to believe? Or is there more to the gang than meets the eye? Is It Classroom-Appropriate? Omg, yes! This book…it’s an instant classic. (I’m sure you’ll be able to tell already how I’ll be rating it). It’s rich in Japanese culture with the language and traditions…I already knew some information because I’m a big historical fiction fan, and I have read a lot of books set in Feudal Japan. But the emphasis on honor and moral codes, along with the ways of the bushido, make this an excellent story with new vocabulary and varying customs. The mythology in the woods and the practices in the geiko tea houses are all intricate pieces weaved through the story to create a world rich in fantasy AND history. And the masquerade of Mariko demonstrates how little power women had across the globe. Though it ends on a mighty cliffhanger, I give Flame in the Mist ????? for classroom use. I will be using this text in my own lesson plan. I will be focused on getting Flame in the Mist and its sequel in my classroom library ASAP. I know the students will enjoy this one. Age Range As Flame hasn’t technically been released, I’m assuming it’s not on Lexile.com for that reason. (I’d be surprised if they left this book off the website). I found nothing too inappropriate except for some conversation between the male characters regarding sex, but it’s all very tongue-in-cheek. It’s more of an “experience” with women conversation. All implied. I would recommend 13 and up because of that…and I also stress that the reader be more ambitious because of the writing style. The writing is a little different and the pacing slower…I would make sure the younger the reader, the more seasoned. End Result: In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I obviously loved this book. I might as well cut to the chase and rate it. Right? Though I could discuss this book all day…and how frustrated I was when I got to the “end” of it because I’m now on the edge of my seat. So I give Flame in the Mist ?????. (Duh, right?) You got give this one a try. It’s completely different than Ahdieh’s The Wrath & The Dawn but still had that otherworldly vibe. You feel transported to the time and place. Mariko and Shazi are completely different characters…Mariko is more calculated where Shazi was more hotheaded. Ahdieh really can create characters that do not repeat themselves. They are wholly original from her other books’ characters. Are you reading Flame yet? Yes, it comes out May 16, so if you don’t have a copy, I hope you run out and grab one (there’s always the library!) and see for yourself how you feel towards Ahdieh’s take on Mulan. And then let me know what you think. You may call me an idiot if you hate it. It’s ok…I’ll be strong. (But you gotta love a girl that can kick butt, right?) Happy Reading, my blogger bunnies!

Full review can also be found on my blog LairOfBooks: https://lairofbooksblog.wordpress.com... PLOT: A Fantasy with a feudal Japanese setting?!?! YES PLEASE! I wasn’t expecting to love my 1st Ahideh book SO MUCH! but I’m so glad that I did. When we first meet our main protagonist Mariko, we hear her internal thoughts on what it means to be born female vs. male. She isn’t at all acceptant of the old school ideals & traditions of her culture but is also very mindful & respectful of her parents wishes. On her way to Inako, the city of her betrothed, her carriage is attacked with intent to kill. Mariko does manage to escape, and it is her ingenuity that drives her to take the clothes off one of the attackers & go undercover dressed as a boy. It is her belief that the attack is the work of the Black Clan & infiltrating their ranks will lead her to answers. Her course quickly changes however, when she is captured by the Black Clan and taken back to their leader. Mariko manages to keep her cover & slowly gains their confidence. Nothing is as it truly seems with the Black Clan Or the Goodreads blurb (in a good way lol). I’ve seen comparisons to Mulan & although I can see why, I myself did not take it as a re-telling. Set in a fantastical feudal Japan, Ahdieh infuses FITM with tons of culture & it is obvious she did her research. We not only get a gender bender story but we’re also given some politics via the Bushido code which are the laws followed by the Samurai’s of the land. This played an integral part in the story, specifically the Black Clan & I won’t go into too much detail for fear of spoilers. We also get the aspect of the Geiko’s (gave me Geisha feels) who are females living & providing entertainment in tea houses where men of important affluence frequent. Mariko’s encounter with both the Black Clan & the Geiko’s leave her questioning her reality & the morality/intentions of those closest to her. I enjoyed the discussion that took place regarding both Bushido law & the existence of Geiko’s as it only helped build a more well rounded world. The second half of this book had me feeling like I was watching an episode of Game of Thrones & that is a very good thing lol! So many players on the chess board now, all with their own motives & as I previously stated…NOTHING is as it seems ;) CHARACTERS: When we first are introduced to Mariko, we learn that she is VERY intelligent, observant, and strategic. Often looking on her twin brother Kenshin’s privilege at having been born male with a bit of envy. Mariko loves Kenshin aka The Dragon of Kai but she also wishes she didn’t have to submit to the social norms of marriage & domesticity. At the same time, Mariko doesn’t wish to bring shame to her family and this is what keeps her on course to fulfill their wishes to marry in hopes of elevating their status. It was a ton of fun following Mariko’s progression via infiltration of the Black Clan. Extremely resourceful & loyal, Mariko has now joined my small hall of fave fictional characters. Now, we also meet Kenshin her twin brother who is hot on her trail trying to find her. Kenshin who is under the impression that Mariko has been abducted, will stop at nothing to find her. I found myself liking Kenshin’s bond to Mariko but more importantly his acceptance of her “non-ordinary” nature. He may have wished she would conform just a little to make things easier but he never forced her to change. He’s always been aware of her passion for more in life, something not typically voiced or seen in the women of this world. Once in the Black Clan, we are introduced to a few members but the two that are focused on are Ranmaru and Okami. These two have a ton of history binding them, not all of it is good but goes back to their fathers. They are more like brothers now who watch eachothers back with Ranmaru being the leader & Okami the shield. LOVED these two! there’s also more than meets the eye with these two haha! discovering what hides beneath these complex characters was one of the best parts of this book. The ending of FITM brings some background characters to the forefront & begins to lay the framework for the sequel. With tons more cut throat characters coming out of the woodwork, i’m highly anticipating the sequel. WRITING & FINAL THOUGHTS: I’m a HUGE fan of lush worlds both real & fantastical, with Flame In The Mist Ahdieh delivers a huge dose of culture set in a fantasy feudal Japan. I LOVE when an author’s research jumps off the page & feeds my imagination vividly. Starting off with the very first page that lists the Bushido Code, I knew I was in for some serious story telling & that is what I got! complete with a glossary in the back of the book, FITM is a feast for any lover of cultural anthropology & Fantasy. I LOVED the underlying message of female empowerment in this book, especially seeing as it was coming from some of the male characters. Its been a while since I’ve come across male characters I truly enjoyed, Okami & Ranmaru are hands down two of my faves. Well paced, FITM unravels bit by bit leaving you with some OH I DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING! moments haha! There is a romance & I appreciated that it was a slow burn (my favorite!) with all of the back & forth banter that made me smile & shake my head. The last half of this book took on a different tone once the plot thickened & motives were made known. You’ll see power play moves being made that may leave you feeling like you’re in a game of Chess. Add to the mix the fantastical aspect & I just couldn’t stop flipping the pages fast enough. Filled with culture, politics, intrigue, subterfuge, and double-crossings… Flame In The Mist is hands down one of my top Fantasy reads of 2017 ;) HUGE thanks to G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, and Renee Ahdieh for the ARC copy of Flame in the Mist.

Fairly fast paced and fun! Can't wait for the next one!

I was super excited to read this, since it's been hyped for months. Even though it wasn't a bad read, it really wasn't worth all the hype. Summary from Goodreads: “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.” Things I Liked: 1.) I loved that it was set in a world similar to historical Japan, with kimonos and samurai. I don't feel like there are enough YA fantasies that choose this sort of world setting, so I was super happy to see this! 2.) I loved Ranmaru and Okami as characters. They felt well developed and were interesting throughout. There were aspects I really liked about Mariko as well. Her tenacity and will to be a bit odd, even when it wasn't approved of; her realizations as she saw more of the world around her; her desire to better herself in the situations she was presented with. 3.) The romance that started was fun. I was expecting some sort of romance to happen, though this one entered at an out of the blue moment. Things I Didn't Like: 1.) There was a lot of revenge going on with multiple characters, but there was little emotion behind it. The rationale and the characters were not developed enough that you could feel their will to seek revenge. For the majority of the characters, you wouldn't know they were vengeful if you weren't point blank told so. Others simply pop out of nowhere with no background whatsoever for their happening. 2.) In general, there were a lot of events that seemed thrown together. There were multiple moments when things came out of nowhere, and it wasn't the good kind of “Wow, I didn't see that coming!” It was more of the “Where on earth did they pull that from?” kind of nowhere. 3.) I lot of the reading felt dumbed down, and I think this is due to a bit of overtelling. The SAME phrases about characters kept being repeated over and over again until I felt like I was being beaten over the head with them. She was odd. She used her brains. He was the wolf. I would have much rather seen actions of these characteristics than be reminded of them constantly through telling, and in the same turn of phrase. This is probably what most annoyed me. 4.) The ending was entirely bad, and there is a sort of conclusion, but there are also a bunch of out of the blue cliffhangers added that had no previous foreshadowing. It felt kind of gimicky. Rating I'd rate this book a 3 out of 5. While the story wasn't that bad, it also wasn't amazing. There were no characters I was particularly aching to read more about. I will definitely be waiting to see other reviews before I consider reading any sequels to come.

As I write this, I'm nursing a major book hangover. It took me a while to get into Flame in the Mist, as is often the case with multi-POV stories, but once I did it was hard to put down. It reminds me of Rebel of the Sands, which was one of my favorite books last year. Both books feature characters pretending to be someone else, including girls dressed as boys, and a strong sense of place. Mariko is an inventor and has always felt out of place in her traditional noble family. She's very much aware of how different her life would be if she were a boy, in part because she has a twin brother. Kenshin is a renowned samurai, while Mariko is being traded to the royal family for political capitol. When she pretends to be a boy in order to infiltrate the Black Clan, she's finally able to find her strength and assert her independence. I appreciate that Ahdieh includes another female who shows her that there is power in being a woman as well. I love the way the magic is subtly introduced in this world. There are shapeshifters, alchemists, and sorcerers, but their magic is not the only thing that defines them. Even at the end of the book, we still don't know all the details about the magical characters' origins and their powers. I'm thinking they will be a bigger part of book two. And I'm so happy there will be a second book because Holy Cliffhanger, Batman! I also want to mention that Flame in the Mist is not a Mulan retelling. It does take some inspiration from Mulan, but there's so much more to the story. I think to call it a retelling, which I've seen a lot of people do, is really selling it short. It is the story of a girl who finds herself by being someone else, but it's also one of court politics, family loyalties, and a Robin Hood-like group of Lost Boys. And it's an enemies to lovers romance, my personal fave. I'm glad that I took the time to get to know these characters. Now I can't wait for book two! 4 stars Review also published at goldiloxandthethreeweres.blogspot.com

This novel gets all the stars! 5 out of 5 for sure. This book did remind me of Mulan but even better. She didn't even plan to become a boy it just sort of happened since she wanted to learn the truth and this was the only way she saw how. What is it with guy characters named Wolf I really liked him and enjoyed his character. I liked all the guys int he group except Ren at first but he grew on you in the end. That ending as well man why do they always do this to me ending it on a cliff hanger and not just a small one a major one at that. I need the next one, I need to know what happens to Mariko and Wolf. What happens to them all, is Kenshen going to make it through everything and eventually learn the truth. Geez so many questions. I hope the second one will be just as good as this one or even better.

Enthralling and inventive, Flame in the Mist will grip you with its creativity, delight you with its humor, and hold you to the end, leaving you wanting more. I absolutely loved this book! I wasn't sure what to expect when I first chose to read it for review - I knew it was "making the rounds" as a new, popular YA Fantasy but I was hesitant to pick it up. Not for any other reason than that my TBR is rather insane and I had other books I was working through...but this cover drew me in. It tricked me, luring me to give in. So I did. I am SO glad I did! From the moment I began Flame in the Mist, I was hooked. Ahdieh's writing is lyrical and beautiful. Like a song played by a skilled musician, you can't help but sit and listen--or in this case, read. And read I did. I ran through pages and pages with ease because of the story as well as the skill of the story-weaver. I was intrigued by the characters. Mariko is such a beautiful, complex character who is at once strong and weak in the best ways. Strong so that we can view her as a she truly is, and weak so that we can see her shortcomings and where growth must happen. On a note about Mariko and women in general in Flame in the Mist, I really appreciated how Ahdieh represented women in this book. None of the girls were "looking for a hero to save them" (as some even stated) and the bent was definitely toward strong, female protagonists, but not for the sake of strength alone. It was about finding the beauty and strength in being a woman, not becoming like a man to find that strength (which is slightly ironic giving the plotline). Mariko's strength was in who she was as a person, not her gender, but her gender didn't mean she was weak either. I like that both men and women were portrayed as strong in this book, working alongside one another. I won't say more about characters at this point since I don't want to give away even the smallest of spoilers, but I will say the web of intricate characters Ahdieh weaves is beautiful and complex. The setting and magic depicted in the book was also delightful. If anything, I would have loved to know and see more of the magic. I did enjoy how it was woven into the plot, but sometimes it left me wanting more or an acknowledgment of its strange nature within context. The characters just seemed to accept it without question which, without being given a reason for this acceptance, seemed strange to me. Lastly, I am a little frustrated that I didn't realize this was a series. While the ending was not exactly a cliffhanger...it kind of was. It doesn't take away from the beauty of the story or writing, nor does it diminish my love for this book, but it does make me a little annoyed that I have to wait (probably a year) before I get book 2. *sigh* I highly recommend this to lovers of YA Fantasy (or Fantasy in general). I think you'll find it enjoyable as well as intriguing. *A final word* I have heard some say that the plot is a loose retelling of the elements of Mulan into Japanese culture and, personally, I'm really enjoyed having that thought in the back of my mind because, loving the story of Mulan as I do, it made me think of that story with fondness and be able to appreciate the skill and ingenuity that Ahdieh wove her own tale. It's not exact to Mulan's story, but there are things that are similar in a good, creative way. That said, I think the Flame in the Mist is completely its own story and diverges in all the right ways. A note to my clean readers: This book was relatively clean - there were a few cuss words and some kissing scenes as well. I'd probably rate it for ages 15+.

Could I pass up a loose Mulan retelling with fantasy elements? The answer was a resounding no. What I got was actually much more: more intrigue, more cogs working in the background, and a few more questions. While this is marketed as fantasy, there are actually only a few hints to the plot. At first, I was a little disappointed, but it is clear from these few clues that the fantastical elements will play a much larger role in the future (and in surprising ways). The actual plot has many times where it hints at things we cannot see. There are many things at work in the background which will be revealed in the second. Overall, the plot testifies to our ability to see what we want to see. This willingness to ignore reason, and confirm our suspicions allows hatred, hurt, and fear to spread. In terms of characters, I enjoyed, overall, the main characters. I could empathize with the way Mariko feels trapped by her options and I admired her morals. (Although I did get a little tired of her saying how smart she was all the time). However, I felt I didn’t see enough of Kenshin, and I wish there had been more moments where we could have seen their sibling bond. Additionally, I was a little frustrated that we only got to see Okami’s perspective after the big reveal and in some ways felt that his narrative conformed to the heteronormativity. My favorite part of the characters was the transformation Kenshin and Mariko undergo as they grow up and discvoer the world is not what it seems. For Mariko it’s a humbling experience where she must acknowledge her own privilege and decide who she wants to be in terms of morals and identity. All in all, this was a first book that left me awaiting the second. While there may have been a few things that made me pause, or with questions, I am so excited to see where the next one takes us.

Rating: 4.5/5 I loved Renée Ahdieh's The Wrath and the Dawn duology so I had high expectations of her new book: FLAME IN THE MIST. Not only did this book met those expectations but it also went on twists and deceptions and lies that I was left shocked, mind-blown, and eagerly waiting for the next book by the end! The characters are fully formed even though we only get point-of-views from a handful of them. I was also in love with Ahdieh's writing; for readers who have read her first duology, expect this one to be different but nonetheless mesmerizing writing. Her writing really did great on bringing characters to life and the swoon-worthy banters had my heart to the fullest! Not only that: but she had also painted Feudal Japan, and its many elements in a beautiful yet realistic way rather than the exotic way, which showed research on her part. All in all, I believe this to be a great diverse addition to young adult and that it shouldn't be missed at any chance.

I LOVED this book. Normally I'd have a harder time with this time period but not this time. The writing was beautiful, and created the perfect picture. There is a bit of everything here. I can't wait for the next book in the series.

Wow. WOW. Flame in the Mist was SO GOOD. Can the next one come out like, yesterday, please? Action, adventure, mystery, hints of magic, a dash of romance... Take Arya Stark, mix with the best parts of Six of Crows, and set it in Imperial Japan. Pure enchantment.

This book surprised me with its blend of fantasy and life in medieval Japan although the fantasy part only became relevant in the last 20% of the book. I was intrigued by Mariko and her struggle to be her own person. The middle of the book was slow and took a lot of faith in its lead character to continue to read. The author left a lot of mysterious happenings to lure me into continuing the series. I will definitely read the next book however hope that the story will justify my faith.

4.25 Holy crap balls! When you read something that gets you excited it is really hard not to spoil it when talking about it, but I'll do my best. So Mariko dresses up as a boy to infiltrate the Black Clan which is labeled as a Bandit Gang for she thinks they are the ones who ambushed her and tried to kill her. The characters are all intricate. The story has multiple layers and are interwoven with each other. You really have to pay attention to find the twists and turns and figure out how it is all connected. Now there is a little bit of love and romance, but it's very playful and ignorant. Also there's some weird shit going on like magic and mystic creatures (killer trees), so be prepared. The ending was probably the worst because it ended with you wanting to know more. Warnings: Violence, murder, death, early age sexism

The author transported me to another world and put me right in the story with the characters of the book. Fabulous writing.

First of thank you to First To Read for an advanced copy of this book. It took me a while to get into this book, and even then I wasn't thrilled. The story took a very long time to get where it was going, which may have been on purpose to have the reader aching for the next book in the series. However I never really felt a connection with any of the characters or got emotionally invested in Mariko's search for the truth. The book synopsis tells you more about her as a character than I got out of reading the story. I only got invested in the characters stories over the last 20% of the book, and I really would've liked for the setting to come to life. I REALLLY wanted to get into this book and love it, the plot seemed so interesting, but overall it fell flat. 3/5.

The Flame in the Mist is the first novel of Renee Adhieh that I have had the chance to read and I really enjoyed it. The main character, Mariko, is on her way to Inako to meet her betrothed, the first born son of the Emperor of Wa. In the Jukai forest, her traveling party is attacked and Mariko barely escapes. She believes the Black Clan is her attackers and decides to disguise herself as a boy to infiltrate and find out why she was to be killed. Kenshin, her twin brother, doesn't believe that she is dead and tries to track her down and who may have attacked her as well. In the Black Clan, Mariko wants to engender trust so that she can question the leader, Ranmaru, and his best friend Okami. The novel continues with Mariko growing in character and strength as she follows along with the Black Clan. The Japanese setting, customs and folklore is also a great touch in keeping this story going and I can't wait to continue the series.

*A big thank you to First to Read for allowing me to review this copy in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own* This was my first official book by Renee Ahdieh and I don't think she's an author for me. This book was so boring! Although it was feudal Japan setting, Mariko didn't feel like she belonged to her own culture. She always questioned authority and disrespected her elders without any reprimand. In those days, and even now in Japan, they respect their elders and you would be punished if you showed disrespect. Especially with Mariko being a young woman, I'm surprised that she never was called out and punished for showing disrespect by her parents and other figures of authority. She also didn't feel like she appreciated her culture, which was very jarring for me. Kenshin, her brother, actually felt like a true samurai warrior, holding close to honor and respecting his elders and the mission he has to find his sister. I also found the world building was lackluster for me. I read a lot of fantasy, both adult and YA that have much better world building than this book. Even the fantasy elements were used once or twice in passing and were never crucial to the story. If you're going to write a historical fantasy, those elements need to be crucial and help the story grow. I found the writing style to be very amatuerish as well. She was telling too much; Mariko learned important details way too fast and it felt like poor storytelling with giving many details away. Mariko basically got everything she wanted and was never truly challenged. This Black Clan treated her way too easy as the story went on, when they were appropriately rough and cruel in the beginning. That inconsistency brought me out of the story and didn't motivate me to care at all. While I can appreciate a Japanese setting and what Ahdieh tried to do, this main character read way too much like Shazi from her other series and felt like she was being forced to change from a scared, non-trained girl who was afraid to a harsh girl being trained to fight. She had lost potential to truly grow. The survival element at the beginning was summarized way too quickly, where that could've been a great section of the story and let the reader see Mariko's mental skills and inventions to survive. Ultimately, this was a major disappointment and I don't think this author is for me. Rating: 1 star

I really enjoyed this book. I went into it not really knowing what to expect. I hadn't read anything by Renée Ahdieh before this book but had heard great things about her work. I saw so many comparisons of this book to Mulan that I was a little fearful that this would just be a rehashing of a very familiar story. I had no reason to worry since this was really a very original story. This was one of those books that I found myself thinking about during the times that I couldn't read. Mariko is on her way to be married when her entourage is attacked. She is able to escape to safety but she has no idea how long she will be able to remain safe. She decides to dress as a boy and find the group that tried to kill her. She does find them and is eventually taken back to their camp. Things start out hard at the camp and she is treated as a prisoner. Eventually, she earns some trust and gets to know some of the members of the group. The way this story was written really just pulled me in. Everything flowed so perfectly and the pacing was well done. I liked this author's voice a lot. It seemed that the words all came together almost magically to create a story that was beautiful and entertaining. There are a lot of really exciting scenes that are offset by others that are more thoughtful. The characters were amazing. Mariko is smart and determined. She learns a lot of really hard truths over the course of this story and is able to accept them and decide how to proceed with her life. Okami was a bit of a mystery which I really liked. He was obviously drawn to Mariko almost immediately and I liked the tension between them. They had some really great banter that was a lot of fun. I would highly recommend this book to others. This is a really great start to a new and exciting series. I seriously did not want it to end and can't wait to find out what happens next! I received an advance reader edition of this book from G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers via First to Read.

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.

2.5/5 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.

Review: 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. Rating: 4.5/5 stars Final Thoughts: – 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. Overall I really liked this book. I actually liked it a lot more than her first series. 4.5 stars

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.

4.5/5 Stars 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. Five stars

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

 


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