It has been well over a year since I’ve actually written a review. I know, I know. Shame on me. SHAME. But, as I’ve mentioned many times, I’m an extremely lazy person and because I’ve been doing my TT and WWW posts, I usually end up talking about the books I’m reading and pretty much say what I want to say about them. I will try my best to do better. Although that’s not really saying much…since I’m fairly sure I mentioned I was going to try to post more often this summer but not a single post got out last month…heh heh ^^; Anyway, moving on!
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.
This review will be on Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh, the first book in the Flame in the Mist series. This book was released back in May. What?! I’m doing a review on a new book?! Why yes, yes I am. I know I’ve been trying to keep to completed series, but when I read the synopsis for this book I simply couldn’t wait to read it! And so here we are.
So, if you couldn’t tell by the synopsis, this book is loosely based of the story of Mulan. Mulan is one of my favorite Disney movies so that is one of the reasons why I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book. And I was not disappointed. The book centers around Mariko, a young woman considered ‘odd’ by her peers because she’s extremely curious and loves asking questions, unlike other women of the time who are meant to pretty much just do what they’re told to by men.
Mariko is shipped off to marry the bastard son of the Emperor, which she has no desire to do, but is attacked in the process. The only survivor, Mariko quickly decides it’s in her best interest to pursue her attackers and find out why they had been sent to kill her, rather then return home only to be sent right back to the palace. This is her last time to be her own woman and she’s not going to let it slip by.
Mariko is a wonderful main character. She’s intelligent, quick-thinking, and always has something to say, which gets her into a bit of trouble on occasion. She hates that she’s treated so differently because she was born a girl and it frustrates her when those around her don’t take the time to listen to what she has to say.
Her twin brother, Kenshin, is another character that pops up quite a bit. He doesn’t believe his sister to be dead, like everyone else, so his main purpose in the book is trying to find her. He is a well known samurai, known as the Dragon of Kai. He’s not someone to show all that much emotion, but a few times throughout the book we catch glimpses of what he’s really feeling, which was nice. I’m hoping to get a better overall feel of him in the next book though.
Two of my other favorite characters are Okami and Ranmaru. I won’t go into any detail about them, however, because that would probably lead to spoilers.
The world-building was fantastic. I especially enjoyed that there was fantasy mixed into the story. For the most part, Mulan is rather realistic – the only fantasy part really being Mushu – so it was nice that the author twisted the story even more to allow for some fantasy elements. There was also some romance in the mix, but nothing over-powering the plot.
The overall plot was well thought out, with a few plot twists sprinkled here and there. There are still questions that need answering, plus the ending of the book makes it so there is most definitely going to be a sequel, so I’m looking forward to reading the second book! I recommend this book to all those looking for some fantasy YA and, of course, to those who enjoy Mulan.
Happy reading! :)