Book Review – Flame in the Mist

“To me, you are magic.” 

Title: Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1)

Author: Renee Ahdieh

Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons

Publication date: May 16th, 2017

392 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt 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 only power any man has over you is the power you give him.

renee ahdieh, flame in the mist

Flame in the Mist is a seriously awesome, Japan inspired fantasy where Mariko, the MC, is on her way to be wed to the Emperor’s son when her caravan is overtaken and everyone is killed… but her. She must pretend to be a boy to sneak into the Black Clan, the group of vigilantes responsible for this atrocious crime. She expected to get in, find out why she was attacked, and bring them to justice. What she doesn’t expect is to fall in love with the most dangerous man in the Black Clan, and to actually enjoy her time there being acknowledged for her abilities.

I listened to Flame in the Mist on audiobook, and I really loved the audio version. Mariko was a great character, and I am always drawn to the “girl poses as boy” trope. The world building is truly fantastic and on audio it makes you feel like you’re in the forest and a part of the battle, which I attribute mostly to Ahdieh’s writing style. There is political intrigue aplenty, for those of you who enjoy that aspect of books (myself included). I finished the book still not knowing exactly who was on what side, which is exactly how I like it.

One thing that stunned me was the romance between Mariko and the member of the Black Clan. Don’t get me wrong, you could definitely see it was building to a romance, but her first kiss with him was so unexpected and terribly timed, that I didn’t understand it at all. I felt it could have been approached better, and less hastily.

Flame in the Mist is followed by Smoke in the Sun, and definitely ended on a cliffhanger that I need resolution to ASAP. Hoping to read the next one this month or next!

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Shadow of the Fox

Title: Shadow of the Fox

Author: Julie Kagawa

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

409 pages


Goodreads Synopsis

One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos.

Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.

Raised by monks in the isolated Silent Winds temple, Yumeko has trained all her life to hide her yokai nature. Half kitsune, half human, her skill with illusion is matched only by her penchant for mischief. Until the day her home is burned to the ground, her adoptive family is brutally slain and she is forced to flee for her life with the temple’s greatest treasure—one part of the ancient scroll.

There are many who would claim the dragon’s wish for their own. Kage Tatsumi, a mysterious samurai of the Shadow Clan, is one such hunter, under orders to retrieve the scroll…at any cost. Fate brings Kage and Yumeko together. With a promise to lead him to the scroll, an uneasy alliance is formed, offering Yumeko her best hope for survival. But he seeks what she has hidden away, and her deception could ultimately tear them both apart.

With an army of demons at her heels and the unlikeliest of allies at her side, Yumeko’s secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself.


It is very hard to be human, little fox. Even the humans themselves don’t do a great job of it.

-julie kagawa, Shadow of the fox

Hello again friends! I read Shadow of the Fox as a library book because Harlequin Teen was kind enough to grant me an eARC of Soul of the Sword to review (which will be the next review I post!) so I obviously had to read Shadow first!

I knew absolutely nothing of this book going in, and didn’t even read the synopsis before beginning. Big mistake. I was so confused reading this in the beginning – the whole first chapter seems to introduce a main character… but then she dies… (which isn’t a spoiler because after further perusal I noticed that her death is mentioned in like, the first paragraph). But I was thrown when I read that. I definitely should have read the synopsis before just jumping into this one.

I ended up liking this book, but it took me a good while to get into it. It was still sitting at a solid 3 stars when I was getting into the last quarter or so of the book. Here’s why:

  1. Generally, I don’t know much about Japanese culture. Honestly, my boyfriend had to tell me that this book was set in a Japanese culture. This is one area that I am woefully ignorant, which made it hard to understand. The writing is dense with traditional Japanese terms that hold little to no meaning for me, so I felt like I wasn’t understanding 2/3’s of the plot and characters. Not Julie Kagawa’s fault – but eye opening to see I need to read up and do some research. Over the length of the book, this got easier, but it took awhile.
  2. I could not connect with the main characters, Yumeko and Kage Tatsumi, for the longest time. The character arcs were a long time coming and they were very flat for most of the book. Yumeko is young & innocent, prone to mischief due to her fox like nature (she is half fox – can use magic – called in this world “kitsune”). Tatsumi is emotionless. Literally. It’s his job to be a walking robot slaying demons. Doesn’t exactly lend to an interesting or likable character. Frankly, he wanted to kill Yumeko immediately upon them meeting.

These two reasons made it so hard to get into this book. BUT – I will say they both improved by the very end of the book. I started to understand the terms more (thank you glossary in the back!) and the characters became more defined. You started to see more of Yumeko’s cleverness (even for a peasant girl) and Tatsumi’s desire to be more than a weapon for his clan. More characters are added to provide depth – and it begins to work. The gang gets in, and out, of a few jams and they really grow together as a #squad. Taiyo Daisuke could get it. Forreal.

But y’allll… that CLIFFHANGER. I’m so glad I had access to the next title because I was shook. This is a no spoiler review so that’s all I will say…

Overall, a few small things took this book lower than 5. I will be reading the second (in the trilogy) and reviewing it shortly. I will definitely continue on in this series, and I recommend it if Asian culture based books are your jam!

Thanks for reading, friends 🙂