Saturday, July 1, 2017

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

Title: Flame in the Mist
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy
Source: Hachette via NetGalley

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.
Review by Nara

Man, that cover is just exceptional. I don't know what sacrifice to the cover gods Renee Ahdieh made, but she has some fabulous covers to her novels. From the peacock/phoenix to the flower shurikens: seriously, wow.

I think the major positive to the book is the beautiful writing. The writing was something that caught my attention in The Wrath and the Dawn, and Ahdieh's prose does not disappoint in Flame in the Mist. The book is relatively short, but that certainly doesn't mean that it doesn't have a lot of content. In fact, because it was so short, it felt like a book that could easily be read in one sitting, and I found myself racing through all the action.

Mariko is a fantastic, strong protagonist, and there is very little to dislike about her. While it was perhaps slightly unbelievable how easily she disguised herself as a man and entered a group of supposedly deadly bandits, I feel like that aspect didn't bother me that much for some reason. Probably because the rest of the story was believable enough. The romance was adorable, although I have seen comments that it is a bit speedy. I personally felt like it was alright, and put some interesting spins on some classic romance tropes.

I need to start looking at Goodreads more often, because I was super surprised that the book was not a standalone! I was heading towards the end of the novel and was thinking to myself, how could this story possibly end in so few pages, and lo and behold, there's a sequel. A sequel I will most definitely be highly anticipating.

Overall: 9/10
Plot: 4/5
Romance: 4.5/5
Writing: 5/5
World Building: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 5/5