Monday, May 15, 2017

Review: Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh


Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh
Flame in the Mist #1
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 16th, 2017
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: Emma @ missprint's ARC Adoption
Format: Physical ARC
Pages: 368

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. But she's quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she's ever known.

Review:

I feel like it has been so long since I've written a review for my blog that I don't even remember how to do it! So please bear with me as I attempt to put my thoughts about this book into words!

I loved The Wrath and the Dawn when I read it (I haven't gotten around to reading The Rose and the Dagger yet, oops!), so when I heard about Flame in the Mist, I was super excited! Especially since it's inspired by Mulan and set in Feudal Japan! I could definitely see how this was inspired by the Disney movie and it was so much fun to read!

The book starts out with Mariko on her way to the imperial city to be married to the emperor's oldest son. Her group is attacked by who she believes to be the Black Clan and she is the only survivor. She then sets out on a quest to figure out who hired the Black Clan to kill her and why.

Her entire purpose for setting out on this quest to find out who wanted her dead was because the fact that she was stranded alone in the forest, the sole survivor of an attack that killed everyone with her, with all the thieves and unsavory people there, would dishonor her family. So I think she wants to figure this out to stop the dishonor on her family?? But I'm not entirely sure how spending even more time out there with them, up close and personal even, would stop her family from being dishonored if just being out there a short time had already done it????

The book is mostly told from Mariko's point of view. I really enjoyed Mariko as a character. I thought that she was realistic. Like, she ends up in these awful circumstances and she doesn't just jump into this adventure with all the confidence of a seasoned hero like some main characters seem to do even if they are COMPLETELY out of their element. She's scared, she's unsure of what she's doing, but she is determined to prove her value beyond being a bride. I loved her!

There are also a few chapters from Mariko's twin brother, Kenshin's, point of view. Kenshin is a warrior, called the Dragon of Kai because of his experience in battle. He is an incredibly talented tracker and very shortly after Mariko's group is attacked in the forest, he is already tracking her, to bring her safely home. You can tell how much he loves and cares for his sister and it's sweet, but he isn't so kind with other people.

There are also a few chapters from like the emperor's point of view and I think maybe one from his wife? These chapters were really few and far between and I don't fully remember exactly who's point of view they were from. They weren't the most exciting chapters, but they definitely showed that there was some scheming and betrayal going on in this story.

The rest of the main characters in this story are the members of the Black Clan. I really enjoyed reading about them! There are just too many of them that I liked and I don't want to spend the rest of my life writing about all of them. So you'll just have to read the book to meet the Black Clan and I'm preeeetty sure that you won't regret it.

There is a bit of romance in this book. I wasn't always 100% sure who I thought that Mariko was going to find herself with, but I really happy with who she did end up with! I have a couple questions about the romance, but I feel like they'd be a smidge spoilery so I will not be discussing them here!

While I did really enjoy this book, I had a couple super minor problems. One of them I mentioned above about Mariko dishonoring her family. I just don't really understand the logic behind that part of the story unless I was just not reading as closely as I thought I was and I'm making all of that up.

The other problem I had was that the beginning of this book felt rather slow to me. Partially because of the chapters that weren't in Mariko's point of view, which I definitely could have done without. The scheming aspect of this book kind of reminded me of And I Darken, which had a LOT of scheming and made the book feel like it absolutely dragged by for me. If you felt the same about And I Darken, this book did NOT feel anywhere near as slow as that one, but it just kind of proves to me that I am not a fan of a lot of on page scheming.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book! I loved the setting, I loved the characters, I loved Mariko. I loved the bit of Mulan that I could see here and there in the story. If you are a fan of Mulan or And I Darken, I think you will probably like this book. I would definitely recommend this one!

Have you read Flame in the Mist yet? Let me know what you thought of it! Did it give you a strong urge to rewatch Mulan?