Title: Flame in the Mist
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Published by: Hodder & Stoughton
Release date: 16th May 2017
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.
Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of Flame in the Mist to review!
I’d been meaning to read Flame in the Mist for way too long and it turned out to be just the type of book that makes you kick yourself for not reading it sooner. It was a fast-paced, fun, and fiery read that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.
Flame in the Mist follows Mariko, who is on her way to the meet the emperors son who she’s been promised to marry, when her group is attacked. She’s the lone survivor who only just manages to escape, and she sets herself on a mission to find out why she was attacked and who ordered it. This leads her to disguise herself as a boy and join the Black Clan, the group she thinks ambushed her, but all is not as she was expecting.
Ranmaru, the leader of the clan, is not the bloodthirsty criminal she was expecting, and she finds herself drawn to his best friend Okami. I really enjoyed the element of found family, and Mariko’s journey throughout the book as she learns that she doesn’t have to hide the things that make her unique and that she doesn’t have to try and fit into society’s expectations of women. While I did enjoy the romance in the story, though, and adored both of the characters, I did however think that it was rushed. After the events at the end of the book though I’m very excited to see where it goes next.
It’s been a minute since I read a Renée Ahdieh book and I’d forgotten how wonderful her writing is. I fell in love with it and the world she crafted — it was exquisite, and I’m excited to understand more of the magic in book 2. The story was fast-paced and action packed and had me completely hooked from the beginning. The last chapters of the book had me glued to the pages and drove me straight to the bookshop to pick up the sequel as soon as I’d finished reading.