Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh

by Hope Hanson
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Flame in the Mist Cover

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.

–from the blurb about Flame in the Mist
Rating: 4/5

So many of my bookish friends love Renée Ahdieh; I constantly see people posting about The Wrath and the Dawn over on Booksta. So, of course, I had to read one of her books and see for myself why people love her.

I decided to read and review Flame in the Mist first because the summary reminded me of Mulan. Obviously, since that’s one of my favorite animated Disney films, that grabbed my attention.

Now, let me tell you what I loved about this book!


The world of this book is absolutely stunning. Mainly based on the historical scene of Feudal Japan but with elements of fantasy and magic woven in, the setting just blew me away. I also really enjoyed the way Ahdieh made the magical aspect feel so natural; she didn’t include any redundant or meandering explanations. It just felt like a natural part of the characters and their world.

Speaking of the characters, I loved them, too. I admired Mariko’s determination and quick thinking. But I also liked that Ahdieh didn’t try to make her more than she needed to be. Essentially, I liked that her personality fell in line with her background and, in many ways, she was unaware and sheltered at the start of her journey. Ahdieh didn’t ignore or “delete” those characteristics, which would be present in someone with Mariko’s upbringing.

And, yes; those characteristics meant I found her occasionally annoying and frustrating, especially towards the start of the book. But I loved seeing Mariko develop over the course of the book as she realized her mistakes and flaws. And I hope she continues to grow in the next book because she definitely still has room for it.

But, aside from Mariko, there were so many other amazing characters. I loved the bond between the members of the Black Clan, but I especially loved Ōkami. He had so many interesting aspects to his character, okay? Though, to be honest, I can’t say that I immediately loved the romance between him and Mariko. The pacing of it felt a little weird, but I eventually got behind it.

Finally, the plot wasn’t the most involved, but I still really enjoyed it! I think many of the events worked to set up bigger problems for the future, so I’m excited about that!

TL,DR Recommendation

All in all, I recommend reading this one! Obviously, like any book, it has some problems, but I still really enjoyed reading it. Plus, I truly think that the good outweighs the bad. With a gorgeous backdrop, a cast of interesting characters, and an enjoyable plot, Flame in the Mist definitely has a lot of good.

If you do choose to read this one or if you’ve read it in the past, drop a comment down below to let me know your thoughts. I always love to talk about books! Plus, if you enjoyed this review for Flame in the Mist, you can use the Book Reviews tab above to find my full library of reviews. Or, feel free to check out the Extras tab if you want some lighter bookish content.

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