Title: Flame in the Mist
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Published by Hodder and Stoughton on 18th May 2017
I definitely was not expecting to like this book as much as I did but oh my goodness did I enjoy every single second of it! Even when I first started it I wasn't completely sure about it, but it just hit me all of a sudden about half way through that I absolutely adored these characters. The beginning is a little bit slow and hard to get into but I feel as though if I were to re-read the first chapter now I would understand it a lot better having already read about these characters and what happens if that makes sense at all.
This book follows Mariko the daughter of a prominent samurai. 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. 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. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets and betrayal, which force her to question everything she's ever known.
“Sometimes we must fall forward to keep moving. Remain motionless—remain unyielding—and you are as good as dead. Death follows indecision, like a twisted shadow. Fall forward. Keep moving. Even if you must pick yourself up first.”
There were some things that were very heavily Mulan inspired but there were some things that caught me so off guard and surprised the hell out of me. Thinking about the plot twists now, I have no idea how I didn't see some of them coming but they were just so good. Some really brilliant things happened that I did not expect and this book really kept me on my toes. The whole book was much more mysterious and magical that I first expected, and most definitely in a good way.
Some of the characters are very unreliable however I found that very interesting and it really added to the banter between the characters and there were moments I just couldn't believe what was being said, it was hilarious. Very important morals are weaved throughout the plot and I am extremely excited to see how those things progress in the next book and that cliffhanger had me screaming at the pages, because I literally need to know what happens next right now.
“I believe the stars align so souls can find one another. Whether they are meant to be souls in love or souls in life remains to be seen.”
There is a very swoon-worthy slow burning romance that I enjoyed and I feel was done right in my opinion and certainly didn't take up the plot or become too overpowering which I am really glad about. Not to mention amazing friendships that start to develop that are very cute and I am intrigued to see how all of these relationships fare in the next book.
Some of the scenes between Mariko and Okami were just hilarious! For starters Okami reminds me a little bit of Rhysand from the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas. Whether thats because of recently reading A Court of Wings and Ruin or not I don't know but he has some of the same characteristics and I couldn't help but thinking after reading of some of the things that Okami's character says that it was such a Rhys thing to say. I think that is partly why I fell in love with his character. Especially when he says:
“You are first and foremost a person. A reckless, foolish person, but a person nonetheless. If I ever say you are not permitted to do something, rest assured that the last reason I would ever say so would be because you are a girl.”
Renée Ahdieh's writing style was beautiful to read, this is the first book that I have read by her but I will be picking up other books of hers soon because I really really enjoyed this, probably one of my favourite reads of the year so far! The plot was really fast paced and full of exciting twists and I flew through it. I really recommend!
Thank you to Hodder and Stoughton and Renée Ahdieh for sending me an early copy in exchange for an honest review.