Title: Flame In The Mist
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Series: Flame In The Mist #1
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date: May 16th, 2017
Mariko has always known that being a woman means she’s not in control of her own fate. But Mariko is the daughter of a prominent samurai and a cunning alchemist in her own right, and she refuses to be ignored. When she is ambushed by a group of bandits known as the Black Clan enroute to a political marriage to Minamoto Raiden – the emperor’s son – Mariko realises she has two choices: she can wait to be rescued… or she can take matters into her own hands, hunt down the clan and find the person who wants her dead.
Disguising herself as a peasant boy, Mariko infiltrates the Black Clan’s hideout and befriends their leader, the rebel ronin Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, Okami. Ranmaru and Okami warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. But as Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets that will force her to question everything she’s ever known.
Hattori Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, one of the emperor’s sons, as a political marriage. On the way to the palace, Mariko’s convoy is attacked and her entourage killed by the notorious Black Clan. Mariko was never meant to reach the imperial city as someone had ordered her to be killed. Determined to find out who and why, she disguises herself as a boy and infiltrates the Black Clan. There Mariko is forced to face many truths, lies and her own conflicting feelings.
Flame In The Mist is definitely a top priority 2017 read of mine. Not to sound dramatic but I was on it like a fly when it popped up on NetGalley. Being a huge fan of Renée Ahdieh’s other books, there really was no question whether I’d read this or not. I started this book fully expecting to adore it. That’s why it’s so hard to say that it didn’t really meet my expectations.
There are a few aspects to this books I really enjoyed. The writing, for starters, is definitely one of them. Ahdieh’s melodic writing may not suit everyone’s fancy, but it suits mine. I still love the descriptiveness – it’s so serene and enticing. The other aspect that I enjoyed is the setting. While I found some of world-building a bit lacking, the atmosphere is beautiful in its complexity. There’s no doubt that Ahdieh has a way with words.
One of the things I disliked was how flat the characters fell for me. I had a hard time remembering some of them and struggled to keep up with who is who for a while. In my opinion, they weren’t given enough time to fully develop. It’s a bit of a show-and-tell where you read about their characteristics, but don’t actually see them. Moreover, the relationships between the characters felt stiff and, again, flat. They, too, didn’t have enough time to develop so they softly float around on the surface.
(I did, however, enjoy Mariko’s internal struggles with loyalty and her strong resolve to prove herself in a world where women are considered less than men. Considering the circumstances, she makes the best of her situation and tries to do right both by her heart and her familial duties.)
Overall, Flame In The Mist did not manage to meet my high expectations, but it didn’t fail me completely either. It’s not a bad book by any means and I’m sure many people will enjoy it. Despite the issues I have with it, Flame In The Mist is a worth-while read, even if only for the setting and Ahdieh’s beautiful writing.