May 8, 2017

ARC Review--Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh

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.

I received this ARC from the First to Read program in exchange for a voluntary and honest review. I was in way compensated for this review. 

I loved Renée Ahdieh's The Wrath and the Dawn duology! It was so beautifully written and told, so when I saw Flame in the Mist on the First to Read page, I knew I couldn't allow Fate to take control this time, so I cashed in on the points I had stacked up and got myself a guaranteed copy! Sadly, in my addled mind, I can't remember if I heard that this was a sort of Mulan retelling? Perhaps? Maybe. Really wish I could remember where I heard these things! LOL!

Mariko is our heroine who is on her way to meet her soon-to-be husband, for we're in that time where fathers sell off their daughters to the highest bidders. Plus, being one of the sons of the emperor will put her family in his good graces and they'll be financially taken care of. But on her way, her convoy is attacked, everyone is killed and she's left for dead and assumed dead. But Mariko is a survivor and she manages to get herself out of the fire (quite literally) and her attackers are none the wiser.

She believes she was attacked by the dreaded, Black Clan. They're the big bad in the area and they're know to raid towns and villages, stealing whatever they want, hurting whoever they want, and killing whoever they want. Mariko decides she's going to get her revenge on them and find out why they attacked her. Who hired them? In order to do so, she will have to hide her girlish figure, so like the Mulan we all know (and love), Mariko assumes the identity of a young man. Though her intention of joining the Black Clan goes a little haywire, she is nevertheless brought into the fold.

I'm not sure if a lot of my struggles came from this being an ebook or something else. Leaning towards the former, because I wanted to love this one soooo bad! This is, yet again, a whole new culture for me! And I did learn that there is a glossary in this one, but since this was an eARC it was increasingly hard for me to access it back and forth and eventually I just gave up. Perhaps with the physical book I might have been able to get a better understanding of things, as it was, I was able to understand a fair amount of the information. 

Though another thing that wasn't too helpful were the multiple points of view. I know we had this last time in her previous series, but I couldn't help but feel like it didn't flow as nicely as before. Again, maybe this is because I was reading the eARC version, I feel like there are certain books I NEED to read in their physical format verses electronic. I know, it's weird, but since there is a glossary in the back I feel like it's not all that weird for me to say this! LOL!

And as in Mulan, we have in her our Shang, except his name is Ōkami. He's not exactly the warm and fuzzy type either. He and Mariko don't exactly hit it off either. Mariko struggles to earn her place within the Black Clan and at the same time try to figure out why they would attack her convoy. The mystery leader, Ranmaru is just as closed off as Ōkami.

It was at the point where we had two young men in the vicinity that I wondered which one would be the other half to our OTP. I was hoping there wouldn't be a love triangle scenario, and thankfully, >Renée avoids that scenario! And while I won't say who from these two young men is Mariko's soon to be true love, I will say that I was quite surprised! Plus his character is just as mysterious and secretive as Mariko! It will definitely make for interesting times in the next one!

And it seems in true Renée fashion will continue to write very steamy kissing scenes! Oh my was I swooning with this one!! And even though there are kisses, it seems the romance will be far from easy for our characters!

The ending was pretty astonishing as well! There were so many shocking twists and turns! Because as I said, there's more than one storyteller here, and while things kind of run as anticipated with Mariko's portion, there was a startling development in that last chapter that I totally didn't see coming!

While not a perfect read, Flame in the Mist was still an enchanting sort of read! There's a lot I felt overwhelmed by and perhaps it was just the exposure to new territory that had me struggling at times. And again, blaming the ebook-ness and not being able to easier access that glossary, that made it harder for me to fully understand all the terms I was reading. I still enjoyed this one despite those struggles though and because I am the stubborn sort I will most definitely be reading the next one! Just perhaps waiting for the actual physical copy so I can better access the glossary! 

Flame in the Mist is a fantasy that is sure to delight and amaze you! It's a colorful story rich in culture and I cannot wait to see how it will end!

Overall Rating 4/5 stars

Flame in the Mist releases May 16, 2017


  1. I'm really excited to read this one. I loved The Wrath and the Dawn and I'm excited for more from Renee and YA fantasy that has different inspiration and a world inspired by somewhere different. I'm glad you liked this one even though it did have some hiccups. Great review!
    Cassi @ My Thoughts Literally

  2. I still haven't read The Rose and the Dagger. oops. I'm actually reading this now and man is it bloody!Sad to hear that the multiple perspectives didn't work out as nicely, I usually love dual perspectives!

  3. I'm so glad you enjoyed this!! I've only read The Wrath and the Dawn, but I've been pretty excited for Flame in the Mist! I'm so excited that the romance (and kissing scenes) were good! Great review!

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

  4. Yes! This is supposed to be Mulan and 21 Ronin. I'm glad to liked it! I absolutely loved it (and did the same thing cashing in my first to read points lol). Great review!

    Christina @ Books & Prejudice

  5. Yaassss you nailed this review! I am so glad you enjoyed this book too, because I loved it :D I have a feeling that the sequel will be even better :) Fabulous review, Jessica!

    Brittany @ Brittany's Book Rambles


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