The first time I heard about «Flame in the Mist» by Renée Ahdieh, and I have to be honest here, it did not catch my attention at all. The only thing that interested me was the fact that Renée Ahdieh was already an author to another successful fantasy series (that I unfortunately haven’t read yet! When do I find time to read all of the series I want to read?? When??? )
After a careful thought on the subject and pushing away the terrifying idea of not being able to connect to the Japanese culture, I decided to give it a try. Thank you NetGalley and PENGUIN GROUP Penguin Young Readers Group for the free ARC of this wonderful novel! As always, it in no way affected my opinion on this book.
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.
The moment I started reading this book I knew it would make it to my top series list! So let’s see what was so good about it!
We first meet our main character as she was travelling in her litter to the emperor’s city of Inako, and from the very first page the rollercoaster of events started pouring out and never stopped until the very last page! I flew through the book in one sitting and immediately craved for more.
Mariko is nothing like an ordinary girl, born and raised in a wealthy family, promised to become a wife of the emperor’s first born son. Throughout the book we find out more and more details of her traits: brave, persistent, curious, inventive, passionate, at some points naive and reckless. The only thing she was not is boring.
I have to admit though, we heard a lot about how intelligent and smart Mariko was, and sometimes it seemed like a lot of talking and not a lot of showing, but the plot and all the characters were so different and interesting that it did not bother me not for a second.
And then we meet Okami! At exactly 51% through the book I posted on my GoodReads about how much I loved Okami. He was dangerous, fearless, full of secrets, – the perfect “bad boy” of this book (what is it about those bad boys that we love so much??)
The story takes us through small villages, through the deep dark forest to the majestic city. We see small glimpses of the world, ruled by the wealth and power. We see glimpses of richness and festivity, as well as the completely opposite livelihood of villagers and workers around the area.
There are samurais, Japanese swords and the art of samurai warriors. There is also a tiny drop of magic, that seems to come more to life in the next book (that I can’t wait to get my hands on!!). There are rivalry, lies, treachery and murders = What else would you want to see in a new YA series? Oh, yes! The perfectly measured romance!
I never seek for romance in fantasy books. Nevertheless, it’s always there. Most of the times it is too overpowering. Most of the times it will make me cringe. But not this time!
This romance was perfectly flirtatious. Just enough for you to get interested but not enough to wear you down, or even worse, to overpower the main story.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ / 5
A great beginning to this new series – «Flame in the Mist» will introduce you to the magical world of Japanese folklore, amazing main and side characters and treacherous plot! Highly recommend this to any Fantasy, Romance or YA lover in general (or just anyone! Please, read it!!)
Let me know in the comments down below if you read any book by Renée Ahdieh before and if you are interested in picking up this one!