17 July, 2018


Title: Flame in the Mist
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Series: Flame in the Mist #1
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release: May 16th, 2017
Source: Kindle Edition
Pages: 416

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BLURB: 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 Tamora Pierce.

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.

EXPECTATIONS: I really enjoyed The Wrath and the Dawn duology so a retelling of Mulan? Should have been THE BOMB! Unfortunately it wasn't.

THE WORLD: Feudal Japan. Ruled by an Emperor and his family and then the land being divided among different rich families.

CHARACTERS: The main character is 17 year old Hattori Mariko (surname goes first because it's Japanese) who just found out she is to be married to the prince, Minamoto Raiden. That's how the book starts, with Mariko on her way to the palace but something happens while passing through the forest and Mariko finds herself completely alone in a land run by ruffians. When she disappears her twin brother, Kenshin, swears to find her. Of course he has to, he is The Dragon of Cai. Mariko has infiltrated the Black Clan though and there she meets the gang; Takeda Ranmaru (leader), Ōkami (the warrior), Yoshi (the cook), and Ren. As the book progresses with are entangled in a plot murder and meet several other characters like Roku who is Raiden's brother and Yumi, a girl from a brothel.

ROMANCE: There is the typical hetero insta-love. Being a Mulan kind-of-retelling the part of the warrior's sexuality (bi) could have been explored much better. Ugh.

GOOD: I liked the world and the main murder mystery plot. I liked the secondary characters much more than the protagonist. They were actually much more interesting! I saw there are novellas about them so I might as well read those even though I don't usually read any of the companion novellas.

The pace of the book is pretty good as well and I liked the writing. It was an easy book to read.

BAD: Where to start... first, Mariko. I didn't like her very much. She keeps saying all she has is brains but where? She doesn't demonstrate it at all. Everything that happens was more by chance and lies than her being witty. Mulan was better. Oh, and she is also a hypocrite! In the scene where she is about to meet Yumi she says something along the lines of slut-shaming (because she lives in a brothel) HAHAHA as if Yumi had another choice! /SLIGHT SPOILER So anyway she slut-shames her but then we learn she did something similar like seducing a boy just because she wanted to lose her virginity. Well, Mariko if you don't think what you did was wrong then don't slut-shame the poor girls working at the brothel. Everyone has to eat, you know. END OF SPOILER/

What else? Oh yeah, the insta-love... another point because we all know Li Shang is bi. He is bi okay? But here it wasn't explored at all and I have the feeling it just got straight up transformed (lol the pun). I know it's a retelling but c'mon it's already bad enough with the Disney live-action movie and now you gotta come and erase his sexuality too. Ancient Japan was only straight apparently.

OVERALL: I give it 3.5 stars. The main plot and the secondary characters saved it for me. I hope Mariko changes in the second book but I don't have high hopes.

What do you think about FLAME IN THE MIST?


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