Title: Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1)
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication date: May 16th, 2017
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!