Review: Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh

  • Summary: Vibrant, action-packed series starter set in a fascinating time
  • Type: YA fantasy adventure/ romance (first in a series)
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Review

As first seen on USA Today

“I believe the stars align so souls can find one another. Whether they are meant to be souls in love or souls in life remains to be seen.”

Renée Ahdieh delivers a vibrant, action-packed historical fantasy that unfurls in Feudal Japan. During a time when a katana slicing through the air hailed justice, and powerful shoguns and samurai ruled, a story shaped by betrayal, honor and belonging takes shape.

Seventeen-year-old Mariko is betrothed to Minamoto Raiden, son of the Emperor—her hopes for freedom dashed by a future for which she has no province. But on her way to the imperial city of Inako, where she is to wed, Mariko’s convoy is ambushed. Narrowly escaping death, she hatches a plan to infiltrate the Black Clan—the group of ruthless bandits hired to kill her.

Under the guise of a boy, opportunistic luck lands Mariko with exactly the group she’s targeted. It’s then she meets Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, the enigmatic and deadly Okami.

Before long, Ranmaru and Okami take Mariko under their wing. She’s proves her value with impressive intellect and cunning. The deeper she goes undercover, however, the more questions arise, the more she begins to forge a kinship with those she ought to keep at a distance.

Worse yet, she uncovers troublesome truths which call to question what she’s come to know. Everything becomes difficult to decipher, even as she realizes she’s finally found a place, a people, for which to belong.

And when her secret is discovered by the person she’s come to have feelings for, the futures of them all upends.

While connections and political entanglements can sometimes feel hard to follow, Ahdieh creates characters you long to learn more about. She’s adept in building a world that feels enchanting, hypnotic, real and sensual. Every page shimmers with intrigue and desire, and I felt immersed in a world marked by juxtaposing acts of honor and brutality, treachery and loyalty.

The heroine, Mariko, longs for a different future and on her journey, she begins to learn that it is up to her to create her own fate—that it’s her choices, her actions, that defines who she is and wants to be.

I’m excited for what’s to come.

About Flame in the Mist

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.

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