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Flame in the Mist

Review

Flame in the Mist

Mariko has had enough with the elegant dresses and noble life. After almost being assassinated by the Black Clan, she turns away from her home in flames to hunt for the ones who wanted her dead. Her plan was simple: find the leader of the Black Clan and kill him. However, after being recruited into the Black Clan herself, things are proving to be harder said than done. Living with her worst enemies, she begins to understand their cause, and that her family may be hiding something from her, something that allows her to relish in the luxurious lifestyle she had enjoyed until her failed assassination. Will Mariko succeed in her task, or will her humanity get in the way?

"FLAME IN THE MIST --- like all of Ahdieh’s previous works --- combines surreal environments with masterful storytelling, resulting in a mystical and endearing read that I end up recommending to everyone I know."

I’m not going to lie, I was totally lost when I first began reading this. My knowledge of feudal Japan is rudimentary, so I was unfamiliar with a lot of terms employed in conversations between the main characters (what’s a jubokko?). Thankfully, author Renée Ahdieh planned ahead, providing a glossary of terms that readers may be unfamiliar in the last few pages of this novel. It definitely saved me from many binge-read-interrupting googles.

I loved Mariko, even though her voice took some getting used to. She makes a lot of questionable decisions, like deciding to trust those who clearly want to kill her, but she proved herself to be a strong leading heroine, a role model, someone who persevered through the worst of conditions. Right from the moment when her life turns upside down in the first scene, she shows to be cunning, resilient, astute; I was impressed. I appreciated that romance was not as emphasized in this novel as it was in the WRATH AND THE DAWN as well. Not that I did not like that series, but I felt it would have been wrong for Mariko’s character to focus on romance, especially when she is shown to be a strong, independent woman from the get-go; I really appreciated this deviation from the norm.

Just because Mariko was a load of fun to read, doesn't mean that the background characters didn't stand out. In fact, I found myself interested in the secondary characters' compelling backstories more than I'd like to admit. Takeda and Okami were particularly interesting, although I thought that everyone in the Black Clan was a lot more lovable than I thought they would be. It's nice to see the 'bad guys' portrayed as actual humans, as opposed to the malicious deviants we make them out to be (I'm not undermining the fact that they're essentially extremely violent criminals though!).

FLAME IN THE MIST --- like all of Ahdieh’s previous works --- combines surreal environments with masterful storytelling, resulting in a mystical and endearing read that I end up recommending to everyone I know. The world she’s created in this duology is whimsical, and I can’t wait to return to it again. It’s a loose retelling of Mulan, only similar in the way that the female protagonists of each respective story have to dress as men to serve as warriors. The next installment in the FLAME IN THE MIST series has no official release date as of yet, but I’d expect a release sometime in 2018.

Reviewed by Rachel D., Teen Board Member on August 8, 2017

Flame in the Mist
by Renée Ahdieh