a digital ARC of this book was handed to me by publisher through netgalley in exchange of an honest review. this doesn’t affect my thoughts in any way.
Flame in the Mist, by Renée Ahdieh
Series: Flame in the Mist #1
Published by: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers (May 16th, 2017)
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Retelling
Goodreads // The Book Depository
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.
FLAME IN THE MIST is, so far, one of the best books i’ve read in 2017. i read a lot of mixed reviews about it lately, and i completely understand why it may be not enjoyable for some people, but i personally loved it.
this is my first ahdieh novel, and the subtle writing style gripped me from the first sentence. it felt so…beautiful. everything was so well written and so well described, but sometimes too described. some actions took too long to happen, and it bored me a TINY LITTLE BIT. but this is my only complaint.
i’m certainly not the first to tell you, but renée ahdieh is born to write slow-burn romance that hits you right in the feels. the story between mariko (the main character) and the love interest (whose name i’m not going to say because REASONS) is one of the best romances i’ve ever read (and believe me, i read a lot of romance). AHDIEH JUST KNOWS HOW TO DO IT OKAY.
another thing that ahdieh knows is build a setting, a plot, a character development, and EVERYTHING ELSE. that book was just a rollercoaster of feels, action and plot twists.
to conclude, FLAME IN THE MIST was really amazing. for me. i don’t know if it’s a book for everybody, as i’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews about it. but i suggest you to give it a try.
moving on to a spoiler-filled discussion, so if you haven’t read the book yet, stop here (seriously, you wouldn’t want to get spoiled on it). but if you like spoilers, you can always stay…
HOW CAN YOU EVEN END A BOOK LIKE THAT JUST HOW.
do i seriously have to wait a whole year to know what happens next? why is life so unfair? i have so many questions:
- who plotted to kill mariko in the first place? (i mean i feel like i kind of know but i need PROOF.)
- what is the real reason behind kanako killing the emperor of wa?
- DID YOSHI DIE? (it’s pretty obvious but i need it officially WRITTEN.)
- who made kenshin kill those innocent people in the forest? WHO WAS HE CONTROLLED BY?
- who’s who?
- WHAT FREAKING HAPPENS NEXT?
but let’s first talk about what actually happened in the book:
the cross-dressing trope? i fall for it every time. i just love it and i don’t know why. and FLAME IN THE MIST was not an exception.
okay, but can we talk about mariko and okami because i’m sHOOK. that was amazing. the enemies-to-lovers trope got me hooked. the scene where he discovers she’s actually a girl is so intense and so good. all the passion inside them just explodes and…wow. there’s also the fact that okami looks like he’s the tough guy but he’s actually the soft boy. AND. I’M. SOLD. so many feels guys, so many feels. I JUST WANT MORE TELL ME THERE’S MORE IN THE NEXT BOOK.
and then we realize that ranmaru (or the one “called” ranmaru) already knew that she was a girl, and that he’s the fox in the forest? and that okami is the one who’s really named ranmaru? i was honestly not prepared for that. there were just so many plot twists at the end.
i want to end this discussion with the theories i have for the next book, because that’s the only thing that can keep me waiting:
- raiden (the prince who was suposed to marry mariko in the first place) or his brother are the ones who tried to kill mariko in the beginning of the book
- the witch who was with the emperor (i don’t remember her name, but she was the one who he used to love), is the one behind everything: she’s the one who controlled kenshin, raiden, roku and kanako to kill and manipulate people, and THAT would the final plot twist.
aaand i think that’s it. but don’t get me wrong, i can talk about this book for hours, it’s my new obsession.