“Be as swift as the wind.
As silent as the forest.
As fierce as the fire.
As unshakable as the mountain.”
I fell hard for Renée Adhieh’s stunning writing while reading her fantastic duology, The Wrath and the Dawn. Those books captured my heart, and I had no doubt that Flame in the Mist would do the same. Once again I was pulled in quickly by the power of her writing. This author has a way of threading words together and constructing sentences that ensures you aren’t just reading about a character… you are the character. I saw, heard, and felt whatever Mariko did; and that’s what makes this author’s books a reading experience.
Taking place in feudal Japan, Flame in the Mist is the story of Mariko and her twin brother Kenshin. They are the children of an important samurai, but they have been raised in very different ways. While Kenshin has been trained to be a fierce warrior, Mariko has been left out of all the things she most desires to learn about – all because she is a girl. But Mariko is a brilliant thinker and inventor; and although she has learned to keep her predilections to herself, she cannot stop dreaming of a different future. When her litter is attacked on the way to her arranged marriage, Mariko barely escapes the almost certain death that awaited her. As she struggles her way through the haunted forest, she formulates a plan and disguises herself as a boy in an attempt to gain the trust of the people she believes murdered her convoy and sought to take her life as well. From within, she will destroy the Black Clan and have her revenge. But never did she think she would find herself somewhere where her talents for inventing and quick thinking would be so appreciated. And what’s more shocking is that the Black Clan may not be who they are rumored to be. But the more answers Mariko finds, the more questions she has. And when her twin sets out to rescue her from the beasts he believes took her, will the sister he finds be the sister he remembers?
I had heard this was a retelling of Mulan; but it’s more of a reimagining, or a story inspired by Mulan. While there are a couple of similarities, I wouldn’t want anyone going into this thinking that it was a retelling and being disappointed. This is a very different story but one that is wonderful in its own right.
Bursting with female empowerment, Flame in the Mist is a thrilling tale intertwined with mystery and certain magic that is merely hinted at but promises much more to come. This story contains a strong and clever heroine, and it is blended with a romance that is slow burning and impeccable.
“There is such strength in being a woman. But it is a strength you must choose for yourself.
No one can choose it for you. We can bend the wind to our ear if we would only try.”
There are amazing characters throughout this book. I absolutely adore Mariko and her sharp mind and equally sharp tongue. The members of the Black Clan were also some of my favorites – Ranmaru, Yoshi, and Ōkami… ohhh, Ōkami *melts* They are not only intriguing but will keep you guessing. Though there were things I would have loved to see expounded on, I reminded myself that this is only book one; and I feel the author is building towards those things. With an ending and reveal that have me longing for the next book and sulking over the wait, this was a book I really did enjoy from start to finish.
Samurais, secrets, magic, friends that are foes, foes that are friends, a swoony romance, a female character that you’ll root for and aspire to be, all wrapped in an incredible setting? What are you waiting for? Beautifully written with characters that awe and inspire, Flame in the Mist is a gorgeous and essential addition to any YA fantasy lover’s library.
“The only power any man has over you is the power you give him.”
Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Quotes above are taken from the ARC and are subject to change.