Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist, #1)
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.

Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist, #1) Details

TitleFlame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist, #1)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 16th, 2017
PublisherG.P. Putnam's Sons
ISBN-139780399171635
Rating
GenreFantasy, Young Adult, Romance, Retellings

Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist, #1) Review

  • Emily May
    January 1, 1970
    “Never forget, Sanada Takeo: in this forest, there is no place to hide.” *shivers*This book was just pure enjoyment from start to finish. Japanese mythology, samurai, crossdressing female warriors, secrets, lies AND just the right amount of sexiness. Sure, it's not a perfect book, but somewhere along the way I forgot to care.Flame in the Mist is set in feudal Japan. I keep seeing "Mulan retelling" floating around, but even if you ignore the fact that this is set in Japan, not China, it's a bit “Never forget, Sanada Takeo: in this forest, there is no place to hide.” *shivers*This book was just pure enjoyment from start to finish. Japanese mythology, samurai, crossdressing female warriors, secrets, lies AND just the right amount of sexiness. Sure, it's not a perfect book, but somewhere along the way I forgot to care.Flame in the Mist is set in feudal Japan. I keep seeing "Mulan retelling" floating around, but even if you ignore the fact that this is set in Japan, not China, it's a bit of a stretch. Mariko doesn't go to war, for herself or for anyone else. She is travelling to the imperial city of Inako when her litter is attacked by a gang known as "The Black Clan".Mariko survives the attack and devises a plan to infiltrate The Black Clan, disguised as a boy. However, things don't turn out exactly how she hoped they would, and Mariko finds herself a prisoner-turned-reluctant-ally. Meanwhile, Mariko's brother and badass samurai soldier, Kenshin, is determined to prove his sister is still alive, and find the criminals responsible for the attack.There's some bloodsucking Jubokko trees and forest spirits, plenty of action and bloodshed, even more secrets and betrayals. The more I read, the more I started to feel like no one is as they first seem, and everyone - from the emperor's royal consort to The Black Clan's leader Takeda Ranmaru - is hiding something. For the most part, this book is far less romantic than Ahdieh's The Wrath & the Dawn. Which was fine by me. And the romance that did surface was... perfection. I won't spoil anything but I'll just say it's one of those rare occasions where I almost felt myself swooning. Look, there's just something sexy about the whole wolf thing, 'kay? Yes, I know, I have problems. "A word of warning..." He bent closer. The scent of warm stone and wood smoke emanated form his skin.Mariko blinked."Don't bare your neck to a wolf." See what I mean? Problems.All of the characters were interesting to me. All of them. Even side characters like Yumi, Ren and Yoshi added something important to the story. I especially loved the complexity of Kenshin's character - he is resourceful and cares deeply for his sister and Amaya, but is also a cruel warrior. I like multifaceted characters; it keeps things interesting. And I appreciated the author's decision to put the emphasis on Mariko's smarts over her strength. I like it when female heroines have skills that real world girls can relate to, and realistically aspire to.Another general positive-- The use of setting was fantastic. Ahdieh captured the setting well in her previous novels, and she does it again here. I personally think many authors underestimate the atmospheric power of place. Things like this: Inako.A city of a hundred arched bridges and a thousand cherry trees. A city of mud and sweat and sewage. A city of golden cranes and amber sunsets.A city of secrets. I did say this wasn't a perfect book, so I'll talk about the few negatives. Mariko makes some decisions throughout that were - to put it nicely - stupid. I didn't always understand why she did things. (view spoiler)[For example, saving members of The Black Clan when they're supposed to be her enemies. (hide spoiler)] And would you really bring a potentially powerful weapon to a fight when you’d “never had an opportunity to test it”? For at least the first half of the book, I felt like Mariko's intelligence was all tell, no show. Though, admittedly, she did seem to show some ingenuity later on.But, you know, whatever. I enjoyed this book so much. I’ve come to the conclusion that Ahdieh just has that special something that draws me in, that special storytelling charisma that you can’t get from a writing class. You can learn sentence structure; you can learn metaphor; but I don't think you can learn charm. And this author has all of the charm ♥Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube
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  • Cait • A Page with a View
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars. This book too me a bit to get into, but by the end I was totally fangirling and cannot wait for the sequel!! (Very minor general spoilers here... nothing too serious). "Be as swift as the wind. As silent as the forest. As fierce as the fire. As unshakable as the mountain." The story starts with a young boy watching his father's execution, which provides some background on the emperor's sketchy decisions and the boy's future motivations. This all gets wonderfully complex, but I also do 4.5 stars. This book too me a bit to get into, but by the end I was totally fangirling and cannot wait for the sequel!! (Very minor general spoilers here... nothing too serious). "Be as swift as the wind. As silent as the forest. As fierce as the fire. As unshakable as the mountain." The story starts with a young boy watching his father's execution, which provides some background on the emperor's sketchy decisions and the boy's future motivations. This all gets wonderfully complex, but I also don't want to spoil the plot. So maybe just take my word for it that this story is WAY more elaborate than I'm going to make it sound... The main character Mariko has been raised in a sheltered, very privileged life so she could someday marry well and elevate her father's social standing. She's on her way to marry the prince when her convoy is attacked by the Black Clan. Bravery doesn't come naturally to Mariko, who's more of a planner. Her mind is her strongest weapon and she's invented some pretty neat things. But right from the start of the story, she's forced to take action. An ongoing theme is how "we choose what we are in any situation, be it a word or an idea."Mariko knows if she returns home, her parents would just send her off to marry the prince again. So she disguises herself as a guy and sets off to learn who tried to kill her and why. She wants to "keep her family's honor intact and prove her worth beyond the marriage market."Her brother Kenshin is a samurai known as The Dragon of Kai. His POV tracks Mariko and shows his hardened resolve to get revenge on the Black Clan for a mounting list of reasons. Kenshin & Mariko's close relationship is both adorable and heartbreaking as they start to have opposing goals. Mariko ends up joining the Black Clan with the goal to "follow orders. Engender trust. Strike when they least expect it." But they turn out to be different than she thought. As they rob the rich and give to the poor, Mariko discovers her father's been treating others poorly and wakes up to a new reality: "true weakness is weakness of spirit. Mariko had lived a life of wealth and privilege. A life spent blissfully unaware of the suffering around her."Mariko has some truly incredible character growth over the course of the story as she decides she won't be a useless prize to be sold and begins to fight for the new home she's found. I absolutely loved how stubborn, fierce, and honorable she was. She learns that "the only power any man has over you is the power you give him." I loved so many of the Black Clan members, but Okami is the greatest. He's a leader who eventually teaches Mariko to fight and it's quite possibly one of the most adorable hate-to-love romances I've found. I just ship them SO MUCH. I had a stupid grin on my face in so many parts. Okami's an amazing feminist and neither one of them is looking to the other to complete them: "she was not a half. She was wholly her own."All of the characters are super well done, actually... their decisions all make total sense (even the ones you hate to see happen). I liked how Okami's character has a ton of depth and is fighting a lot of inner battles, too. The pages are pretty much packed with his wise insights on life: "I believe we are all things, depending on the situation. Given the right time and the right circumstance, any man or woman can be water or fire or earth or metal.""You deny the truth of our inclinations.""No. I deny being a slave to any one thing. In any situation we can choose who we are and choose who we want to be." Renee Ahdieh also makes some amazing statements on the different kinds of strength of women. I've been getting tired of books that try to create strong female characters by showing how they don't need a man etc because that is STILL defining women through men... it's just by a guy's absence in that case. I wanted to hug this book for allowing the women to be complete characters in their own right without fitting any one particular image of strength. At one point the Black Clan goes to a tea house, where Mariko asks a geiko if she's angry to have been born a woman: "There have been times I've been angry at how the world treats us, but I see being a woman as a challenge I must fight. Like being born under a stormy sky. Some people are lucky enough to be born on a bright summer's day. Maybe we were born under clouds. No wind. No rain. Just a mountain of clouds we must climb each morning so that we may see the sun." You know a story's good when you don't want it to end and are still thinking about the characters later. It did kind of lose my attention a bit in the first half, but the last half just kept getting better and better! Honestly, the plot was really well paced. And I absolutely loved the setting, too – it's an amazingly detailed, gorgeous version of feudal Japan with hints of magic. There are political schemes, realistic social issues, and some seriously hilarious moments. A lot of people are asking if this is better or worse than The Wrath and the Dawn, so let me just say that they're different books. That's about it. The styles feel different, but I don't think that necessarily means one is "better." They were both 5 star reads for me!Update: the publisher marketed this as a retelling of Mulan. Epic Reads listed this as a retelling in their Book Shimmy Awards. I did not come up with the "Mulan retelling" comparison on my own out of some absurd idea that China and Japan are interchangeable (??)I had this pitched to me as a "loose retelling of Mulan set in feudal Japan," but the few similar elements (like how the main character disguised herself as a guy, doesn't want the other guy fighters to discover her identity, has an awkward bathing scene, was trained to fight by the leader whom she eventually falls for, etc) are pretty general ones. When I originally said elements reminded me of Mulan, that was in no way because it's set in an Asian country. Retellings place themes or aspects of a story into a new context, so I was never once merging Chinese and Japanese cultures in my mind. If I said that Cinder was a retelling of Cinderella, would that imply that I think Chinese and French cultures are interchangeable?But I think "retelling" (or even "inspired by") is a bit of a stretch when it comes to this story anyways, so I just took that part out of my review. In the end this really is its own wonderful story!Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC. The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
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  • Marie Lu
    January 1, 1970
    Renée has such an incredible knack for immersing me in her worlds--and Flame in the Mist is no exception. The world is lush, the characters absorbing, the atmosphere tense and romantic and awesome. Mariko! Mariko, my girl!!!! I loved her. I need more. Immediately.Pre-order this asap.
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  • Sabaa Tahir
    January 1, 1970
    How have I not reviewed this book? FLAME IN THE MIST is the first in a new series from Renee Ahdieh and it is FANTASTIC. I adored THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, of course, and thought the story wrapped up beautifully in THE ROSE AND THE DAGGER. But to be honest, no one can live up to smart, badass Shazi, right? Right?Wrong, wrong, wrong. Mariko is a smart, brave, careful, flawed and incredibly original. I wanted to take her out of the book and get her to teach me alchemy. I want her and Shazi to meet a How have I not reviewed this book? FLAME IN THE MIST is the first in a new series from Renee Ahdieh and it is FANTASTIC. I adored THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, of course, and thought the story wrapped up beautifully in THE ROSE AND THE DAGGER. But to be honest, no one can live up to smart, badass Shazi, right? Right?Wrong, wrong, wrong. Mariko is a smart, brave, careful, flawed and incredibly original. I wanted to take her out of the book and get her to teach me alchemy. I want her and Shazi to meet and bond over all the crap they have to put up with. But Mariko isn't the only incredible character. From her twin brother Kenshin, to the Emperor, to the members of the black clan, all of the characters in this book are fully developed and deeply fascinating. I needs some novellas, pronto. As in Renee's other books, you can expect incredible descriptions of food and clothing and people and scenery--all the lush writing that makes you feel like you are living the story. The research that went into this book was intense, and it shows. I genuinely felt like I had been dropped into Mariko's world. The pacing is non-stop--I tore through this. But my FAVORITE part of the book was the romance. Insert all the fire emojis here. Pre-order it, get your hands on an ARC, trade a soul or two...it's worth it for this book. Renee, you can give me book 2 now, please.
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  • Hailey (HaileyinBookland)
    January 1, 1970
    2.5ish*This is a hard one to review for a few reasons. Namely, I have such mixed feelings. A lot of people were disappointed by this book because it was advertised as a Mulan retelling but it wasn't really a Mulan retelling, and while I see that complaint you can definitely see how it was Mulan inspired, which is what the author said it was. That aside, there were certain elements of this that I loved, especially the female empowerment, but the story as a whole was a bit of a let down. Truth is 2.5ish*This is a hard one to review for a few reasons. Namely, I have such mixed feelings. A lot of people were disappointed by this book because it was advertised as a Mulan retelling but it wasn't really a Mulan retelling, and while I see that complaint you can definitely see how it was Mulan inspired, which is what the author said it was. That aside, there were certain elements of this that I loved, especially the female empowerment, but the story as a whole was a bit of a let down. Truth is I was bored most of the time, I found it really hard to motivate myself to actually finish. I thought it was just me being too busy, but it took me 3 tries to actually get through it. So unfortunately, I don't see myself continuing with the series.
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  • Lola
    January 1, 1970
    Like many others, I went into this—gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous—novel thinking I’d be reading a retelling of Mulan, which suited me just fine. Flame in the Mist is not a fairytale, however beautifully it is written. Mariko and Mulan are both intelligent women who gain strength and fierceness along their respective journeys. But Mariko never goes to war—she is recruited by the dangerous ‘‘Black Clan’’. Since that doesn’t happen, she never falls in love with a captain. Plus, she doesn't fit the cr Like many others, I went into this—gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous—novel thinking I’d be reading a retelling of Mulan, which suited me just fine. Flame in the Mist is not a fairytale, however beautifully it is written. Mariko and Mulan are both intelligent women who gain strength and fierceness along their respective journeys. But Mariko never goes to war—she is recruited by the dangerous ‘‘Black Clan’’. Since that doesn’t happen, she never falls in love with a captain. Plus, she doesn't fit the criteria of Disney princesses. Oh, no. Mariko is done with dresses and pampering for ever. She wants revenge. The Black Clan tried to kill her? Well, they haven’t succeeded, so now it’s her turn to strike back.You know the peculiar spirits—i.e. the small dragon—that look after Mulan? We have something of a sort in Flame in the Mist. Unfortunately, Mariko does not have a sidekick. Fortunately, she isn’t completely alone. As you can see, this is more of a loose retelling of Mulan. Furthermore, Renée Ahdieh touches on feministic issues better than Disney ever did. She isn’t afraid to point out all that is wrong with the way men perceive women. There is romance, but it’s not a romantic story. Mariko is serious about her plan to murder the leader of the clan. At the same time, she is human—her emotions sometimes get in the way.I absolutely cannot wait to see where this is all going. I am in love.Blog | Youtube | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | Bloglovin’
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  • Emma Giordano
    January 1, 1970
    Originally, I gave this book 5 stars after marathoning it in one day & loving it so much. After consideration and further discussion, I’m dropping my rating to 4 stars.I did really love Flame In The Mist. The story was entertaining, had some thrilling scenes, and was all around really enjoyable. As always, I love Renee Adhieh’s writing. She has the most delectable prose that is unlike any other YA author out there. Once you get used to it, it’s very easy to get lost in her flowery writing st Originally, I gave this book 5 stars after marathoning it in one day & loving it so much. After consideration and further discussion, I’m dropping my rating to 4 stars.I did really love Flame In The Mist. The story was entertaining, had some thrilling scenes, and was all around really enjoyable. As always, I love Renee Adhieh’s writing. She has the most delectable prose that is unlike any other YA author out there. Once you get used to it, it’s very easy to get lost in her flowery writing style, and I always love that about her books.I really loved Mariko as a main character. I especially liked how she’s not a typical Mary Sue – she’s an inexperienced fighter and struggles through training, like you would expect someone who has lived a privileged life to do. Though that does not mean she is not a TOTAL BADASS and definitely makes her way through tough moments her own way. I think she’s an admirable character and I really enjoyed her story arc.Despite how much I enjoyed reading the story, I quickly realized I retained almost NOTHING about this world and where the storyline is going. Could it be because I read it so fast? Absolutely. But, this is a recurring theme with Rene Adhieh’s books for me. I love them so so much in the moment as I’m reading, and the next day I can’t remember any specific details. I don’t know if I can fully attribute that lack of retention to my fast reading because it’s happened to me with her past two books, physical and audiobook formats. I think it’s just a case of her ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL WRITING STYLE not always matching up with me as a reader.I also wasn’t a huge fan of the romance. While I do enjoy the way the characters come to complement each other, I think their development was rushed. It felt as if there was no chemistry, and then nothing but chemistry after a certain course of events that just felt unnatural. I would have loved some more time for these characters to grow together as opposed to going from strangers/enemies to acquaintances to immediately lovers.I feel similarly about the magic system, it was presented to in the beginning, but the ending EXPLODED with magic. I initially went into this story expecting a fictionalized feudal Japan and came out with a bit of a fantasy headache. I felt like I didn’t have enough time to grasp how the magic system works because all of the rules/future of the magic system was super saturated in the last handful of chapters. I wish it had been more spread out so that it could have been more easily comprehendible. More magic throughout the story also would have probably sped up a few of the slower scenes.I also want to add a TW for suicide in the first 5 pages of the book. Given, it is a ritualistic suicide which some may view as different, but it's still very graphic and could be potentially triggering. Honestly, you could skip to page 6 or so and you would not have missed anything from the story at all.Despite my small critiques, I really did enjoy this story. It was fun, enjoyable and had interesting character dynamics with beautiful writing. I would recommend it, but I do think you need to be in the mood for a high fantasy with lavish writing & stay really focused throughout. All in all, I’m anticipating book two!
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  • Natalie (Never trust a duck)
    January 1, 1970
    No title, no description, I don't care. Renee wrote The Wrath and the Dawn. She wrote Shazi and Khalid. I will automatically buy anything she writes now.
  • Simona Bartolotta
    January 1, 1970
    “You do have a flair for the dramatic.”•Although The Wrath & the Dawn definitely did not make it into my all-time favourites list, the idea of giving a try to Flame in the Mist, inspired by Disney's Mulan (maybe the Disney movie I adore the most) and set in feudal Japan, still filled me with excitement. Sadly, however, I found that Ahdieh made once again many of the mistakes she'd made in her previous duology as well, and generally I noticed no, or very little, improvement. So let's see wh “You do have a flair for the dramatic.”•Although The Wrath & the Dawn definitely did not make it into my all-time favourites list, the idea of giving a try to Flame in the Mist, inspired by Disney's Mulan (maybe the Disney movie I adore the most) and set in feudal Japan, still filled me with excitement. Sadly, however, I found that Ahdieh made once again many of the mistakes she'd made in her previous duology as well, and generally I noticed no, or very little, improvement. So let's see what we've got here.•I truly must be a very strange person, because I firmly believe Ahdieh's much-loved and much-vaunted writing to be the main problem. As I said in my review of The Rose & the Dagger, Ahdieh tries so hard to be and sound poetical and melodious, that ultimately her narration can only come off as pretentiously high-sounding. I'm not referring to the little details, such as her choice of words and expressions, and if you take her sentences one by one, rest assured you'll find nothing wrong with them. It is when you put them all together, one after the other, when you read the book (but to get a clear enough idea even just one chapter will do) that they start feeling odd: absurdly overdramatic and inflated to a fault. I would find it boring and annoying even if it lasted for no more than a couple of pages, but here we have a whole book written like this from cover to cover, and I'll be honest, it's tiring -no, it's exhausting. It's exhausting because you're forced to be continuously on edge, to wonder what on earth is happening of such importance that the author is presenting it as if 1) the end of the world is near or 2) some character just found out the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.➔ Practical made-up example of how even the most inconsequential events and facts have to be written according to Ahdieh. This is how she would write—well, basically everything, according to the data I've picked up after reading all three of her books. Mariko glimpsed something on the ground. It glinted in the mud, the colour of burnt sugar.She stopped on her tracks and leaned down a little, then some more. Closer.She had to catch her breath; she picked the object up. So light.So soft. She had found-A leaf. I've found a leaf.When a reader stumbles upon a passage like this, he or she is led to believe the leaf is somehow functional, even fundamental, to the story. How do you think they'll feel when it becomes clear than it's actually not? The answer is, like a deflated balloon. And that is precisely the problem that Ahdieh's writing style creates, and which would not exist with a more sensible revision of the text: it raises expectations that have no place there and no hope to be fulfilled. I opted for inventing a brief example instead of selecting a quote from the book because, as I said, you won't find anything wrong on a microscopic level and nothing striking enough to make you understand what I mean that is brief enough to be quoted: it's the ultimate, wider effect you have to consider. And this effect is profoundly frustrating. •My second complaint concerns the logic behind some of Mariko's decisions. Take the first one: she doesn't want dishonour to befall her family, so she runs into the woods to understand who is after her, even though one of the problems to returning home was "the question of [her] virtue" that would be raised by her being "lost in the forest, alone with murderers and thieves" for even a couple of hours. How is spending more hours is there going to help in saving her family's honour, that's beyond me. You see, the thing is, her choices sometimes are even the right ones, but her mental processes are all messed up. She gave me never-ending headaches. Another instance of how her reasoning just doesn't stand up is, why does she never once (view spoiler)[wonder, at the end, about Ranmaru turning into a wolf? Shouldn't she find that strange? Or what the heck was the creature that warned her in the forest? The strangest magical things can happen and she wouldn't give it more than a passing thought (hide spoiler)]. Odd.•Show-don't-tell who? There are few things I hate more that when authors don't follow this rule. We are told-and told-and told Mariko is so clever and curious and always outsmarts everyone, but if you had to count the times that actually happens you wouldn't get past... one, as far as I'm concerned. Moreover, Mariko stands out for being the inventor of the shuriken, of the grenade and of the smoke grenade. Okay... In other words, she is so magnificent and clever, I just decided I'll call her Mary Sue 2.0. Because, you know, you can't not give a bonus point to the inventor of the shuriken.•In many respects, Flame in the Mist is awfully similar to The Wrath & the Dawn. Never mind the setting; I'm talking about more substantial elements. See if this rings a bell: “And a part of her couldn’t help but think—were he another boy, in another time, in another place—Mariko would have liked to hear Ōkami’s laughter.Would have enjoyed being the cause of it.But he was a member of the Black Clan. The band of mercenaries who had tried to kill her. Who had slaughtered Chiyo and Nobutada.She hated this boy and all he stood for.” Sigh. Yes. I know. I would have liked some meaningful variation on the theme, just saying. And instead the dynamics of the romance are comparable, up to a measure, to those in TWATD, and Mariko and Shazi have much in common as well, even though the author does try to differentiate them by portraying Mariko as more hesitant and insecure at the beginning. Since I didn't like Shazi, you understand why I wasn't able to empathize with Mariko either. •Like in TWATD, there is magic playing peekaboo and completely devoid of contextualization: we have no clue as to what it actually is or where it comes from and it appears, like, two times in the whole book. And no one ever talks about it. Do they know it exist or do they think it's just part of the stories? Everything is so confused.•The Black Clan. Mariko keeps repeating they are terrible and cruel, but it's not as if anyone actually explains us why. Are they bandits, I suppose, since they live in the woods and all? Well, then couldn't you just say that? And did they exist before Ranmaru or did Ranmaru found them? What do they want, or what does Mariko think they want, in general, apart from killing her and all that's linked to that? Do they just rob people, normally, or what? And what have they done to deserve their reputation?Reader, you will never know.➽ I initially rounded up my rating to three stars, but after laying out all the things I found poorly done in the book, I see I'm not being honest. I've rated three stars some books that I've enjoyed far more, and, at the end of the day, I didn't enjoy Flame in the Mist. I am more than sure, however, that TWATD fans will love it, so if you enjoyed that duology, take this review as a "Go for it, you're in for a treat." On the other hand, if, like me, you didn't enjoy TWATD... welcome to the black sheep club. And don't worry, you can just skip this one.PRE-READING A book partly based on Disney's Mulan... YES! YES!...written by Renee Ahdied.YE-oh. Uhm, okay?Still totally gonna read it. Mulan is one of my absolute favorite animated movies. Can't wait.
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  • Emma
    January 1, 1970
    warning: this review contains minor spoilers and a shit ton of swearing. I cannot remember the last time I was so relieved for a book to be over. One of the most tragic feelings is witnessing your hopes and dreams for one of your most-anticipated releases of the year crash and burn before your eyes, and I'm honestly pissed at myself now for getting so hyped about this.This book had awful pacing, a plot that I didn't give a shit about, and characters that BORED ME TO DEATH.Let's just get right in warning: this review contains minor spoilers and a shit ton of swearing. I cannot remember the last time I was so relieved for a book to be over. One of the most tragic feelings is witnessing your hopes and dreams for one of your most-anticipated releases of the year crash and burn before your eyes, and I'm honestly pissed at myself now for getting so hyped about this.This book had awful pacing, a plot that I didn't give a shit about, and characters that BORED ME TO DEATH.Let's just get right into the trashing and talk about Mariko, shall we?Mariko. Fucking Mariko. I genuinely hate her more than I hate Agniezka from Uprooted and Celaena from Throne of Glass COMBINED, and that is saying something because BOY do I hate those characters.This book is supposed to be a Mulan retelling. Now, I fucking LOVE Mulan. I have absolutely no idea what she did to deserve being compared to the dumb-ass piece of shit that is Mariko.The book begins with Mariko traveling through the woods on her way to marry the emperor’s son and continue her already super pampered and privileged life in an even more pampered and privileged position in the imperial palace. Unfortunately, her entourage is attacked by a mysterious group of outlaws. Everyone accompanying her dies, but apparently Mariko just couldn’t fucking sit tight in her little box and let herself get burned to death, so she escapes and the entire chain of ridiculous events that is this book begins.Our heroine proceeds to wander around a forest for 20 pages and make grand proclamations about her supposed intelligence and bravery and big revenge plans. She spent so much time talking about how she was gonna go on this grand quest to find out who killed her make them pay, and I was sitting here like ??? GIRL, you are still lost and helpless in the middle of a forest how the fuck do you plan on accomplishing all of that ??? Mariko has no training with weapons or fighting or tracking or ANYTHING USEFUL, she’s about as threatening as a ladybug.Ahdieh spends an insane amount of the book talking about how smart and resourceful and capable Mariko is, but all we actually see Mariko doing is being prissy and incompetent. How did a girl from a noble family manage to survive on her own in the woods and tiny villages with no money?? How did she find her way out of an immense forest on her own??? How did she know enough about chemistry and weapons to build explosives and come up with designs for new kinds of blades???? Don’t ask me guys, I don’t fucking know. We’re told she’s oh-so-smart and perceptive and has all these skills but we never see her use them.Mariko is basically irrelevant to the plot of her own book. She doesn't actually DO anything important. She sits around and watches other people do stuff and has this ridiculous, naive, idiotic belief that she is somehow smart and brave and capable of taking on people who are far smarter and better-trained than she is. Also, the plot is a senseless chain of events that never really seem to go anywhere so I’m not even gonna get into that.The other characters were…okay, I guess. Kenshin was much more capable and less annoying than Mariko, but his storyline kind of fell flat because it was only about his quest to find Mariko. There was all this talk about him being loyal to her, and their whole family being fairly close, but I didn’t actually see any of that. Kenshin doesn’t really have much personality or development, and their parents are more like background props than real people. anyway, if Mariko was MY sister and she went missing I wouldn't look too hard for herOkami could have been cool. I thought he was alright when he was first introduced, but then he had to go and fall for dumb-bitch Mariko and I literally lost all respect for him. It was some of the cringiest insta-love I've read in a while. The scene when he discovers Mariko's gender was beyond ridiculous, he was basically just like "omg you have boobs!! you lied to us all but it's fine, let’s fuck now." Also, the whole thing about how he was kinda denying he was attracted to her before he knew he was a girl felt vaguely homophobic ?? He couldn't admit to himself that he thought he might be attracted to a man, but once he realized she was a woman he was like oh yes of course now it's ok…… I feel like the way that whole buildup and reveal was handled was weird and I skimmed the romance parts bc they were cringy af. I hope this ship gets caught in a violent storm and shatters into a million pieces.This book would genuinely have been so much better if Mariko wasn't the main character. Like, if this was from Kenshin's POV it could have been a cool samurai version of Taken featuring Amaya, the badass blacksmith’s daughter who makes swords and defies her superiors to rescue men from burning buildings. OR, if it centered on the emperor and his sons and wives there could have been some really interesting political intrigue and family dynamics. Hell, I would rather read the life story of Yoshi the one-legged cook than another fucking chapter about Mariko.Ranmaru, Yumi, Ren, other minor characters whose names I’m forgetting…I didn’t really give a shit about them so I honestly don’t think they’re worth mentioning.Also……what even WAS the magic in this world?? Like, Okami had some kind of power that let him float/fly? And Kanako did those things with flowers and trees and hidden gardens?? And then it seemed like Kenshin did something fire-y and death-y????? And Ranmaru???????? Sooooo many people supposedly had these random magical abilities that were never clearly described or addressed and it was so confusing and poorly developed. There were a bunch of times when characters were mentioned as "being" water, fire, earth, etc. and I don’t know if that was supposed to be related to this and maybe mean they had some kind of elemental magic? I just don’t fucking know, guys, this was such a mess.The only part of this book that genuinely interested me was learning about the Japanese setting and culture. It was clearly very well-researched and well-done, I just wish there had been a decent story and characters to go along with it. I felt the same way about the writing itself. Ahdieh's prose is stunning, and it's one of the reasons I adored The Wrath and the Dawn series. She crafts beautiful, lush, and vivid sentences, but unfortunately that was not enough to save this story.As I mentioned in an update, I would not recommend this if it was the last book on earth.ok. rant over. if you made it this far, thanks for reading, and I hope you have a lovely day and read an amazing book that actually has tolerable characters ❤️-------------------------------PLEASE BE GOOD.buddy read with Maram, Solomon, and Elise! :)
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  • Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink
    January 1, 1970
    "The only power any man has over you is the power you give him." Holy guacamole. This was wonderful.HOW COME NO ONE TOLD ME THIS IS A SERIES AHHHHHH. I WAS NOT PREPARED....Alright. I wasn't that into the first 30-40%. It wasn't bad at all, but I just wasn't really connecting. Mariko is on the way to her betrothed (the prince) when she gets attacked by who she believes is the Black Clan. She manages to escape (as told by the synopsis), but she refuses to return home and tell of her survival u "The only power any man has over you is the power you give him." Holy guacamole. This was wonderful.HOW COME NO ONE TOLD ME THIS IS A SERIES AHHHHHH. I WAS NOT PREPARED....Alright. I wasn't that into the first 30-40%. It wasn't bad at all, but I just wasn't really connecting. Mariko is on the way to her betrothed (the prince) when she gets attacked by who she believes is the Black Clan. She manages to escape (as told by the synopsis), but she refuses to return home and tell of her survival until she can figure out who paid the Black Clan to kill her. So, she infiltrates their camp and attempts to gain their trust. Mariko has quite the aversion to men, being that men predominately rule in their society and women are left to please men. I totally get that, and Mariko was justified in feeling that way, but she does bring it up quite a lot. Almost too much, but whatever.Anyway, about half way through, once we're into the Black Clan hideout, things start to get interesting. And they just keep getting better and better. I literally could not put it down past the 70% mark. Like holy wowza... SO GOOD. It was non stop, action packed, with so many fun turns. AND THE END AHHHHH WHAT DO I DO NOW?!?!I TOTALLY GUESSED THE TWIST TOO. And I don't even care that I guessed it because it was so great. I was actually hoping I was right because just.. yes. So good. Some of the highlights for me were:1. Japanese inspired culture. Lush and gorgeous.2. Okami. And he the fact that he has long hair.3. Topknots.4. The scene where Mariko falls from the... cliff thing.5. Gorgeous quotes, like the following... "A blossom can split through a rock, given enough time." I did have a few small complaints - one being the magic system. It was really confusing and not really explained at all - no rules were mentioned and it seemed very random. I'm assuming this will be explained much more in the next book, but it was odd to me that it was so sporadic. The only other thing was the writing- not that it was bad. It just felt a bit dry and hard to follow at times. I felt the same way about Ahdieh's other series too - 'The Wrath and the Dawn'. Whatever, the story here is amazing.All in all, I totally recommend this. I'd read it again in a heartbeat. My Blog ~ Instagram ~ Twitter ~ Etsy
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  • Katerina
    January 1, 1970
    So, let's get down to business.To defeat the Huns “In the beginning, there were two suns and two moons.” In the feudal empire of Wa, a land humming legends of samurai and mythical demons hunting the woods, a woman's place is to obey her father, and later her husband, with no control over her future. Hattori Mariko, though, disagrees. Her curiosity is never satisfied and she questions, studies and learns, earning the reproach of her family, who, in an attempt to gain political favor, offers he So, let's get down to business.To defeat the Huns “In the beginning, there were two suns and two moons.” In the feudal empire of Wa, a land humming legends of samurai and mythical demons hunting the woods, a woman's place is to obey her father, and later her husband, with no control over her future. Hattori Mariko, though, disagrees. Her curiosity is never satisfied and she questions, studies and learns, earning the reproach of her family, who, in an attempt to gain political favor, offers her as the bride of the emperor's son, trading her like merchandise. But the old gods have different plans, and when her convoy is attacked by the infamous Black Clan, a band of thieves and mercenaries, Mariko decides to pose as a boy and infiltrate their ranks, in order to discover who paid them to murder her before she destroys them, while her twin brother is frantically searching for her. What Mariko doesn't expect is the kinship she feels towards the Black Clan, their cunning yer straightforward leader and his best friend, the Wolf with the many secrets and the layers of indiferrence to cover them. Torn between her duty to her family and her loyalty to her new home, Mariko soon realizes that there are greater forces in play, and somehow an odd girl is in the middle of the storm. “Rise from the ashes. And take your righteous place.” As you can tell, Flame in the Mist is a Mulan retelling, and since Mulan is one of my favorite Disney movies, not reading it was not an option. Renee Ahdieh with her unparalleled talent wove intricately the empire of Wa, its lores and traditions inspired by medieval Japan, and her descriptions brought the pages to life; you experienced every smell and sound, you wanted to relish every dish and wear colourful kimonos, wield a katana and fight alongside black-clad boys thirsty for revenge and justice. The writing was lyrical, provoking a sweet melancholy that settled in your bones. The depiction of the code of honor and morals, and the struggle to abide by them were tangible. But, as discrepant as it may sound, there was something missing. Perhaps that restless and insatiable feeling is connected with the repetition of phrases and inner monologues. Perhaps it had to do with the characters, and the nagging thought that they needed more development. But the truth is that Flame in the Mist, while it ignited a spark of magic, it didn't engulf me in flames. “Be as swift as the wind. As silent as the forest. As fierce as the fire. As unshakable as the mountain. And you can do anything.” Mariko was a bit bland character. I admired her determination to matter, to survive and prove her value, but such determination could be tedious at times. She was smart and resourceful, but her lapses of judgement could turn fatal, and cause tragedies. I was more invested in the stories of the secondary characters, their ties to the fallen samurai and their plans to unravel their enemies, but I wanted something more. More time inside their head. More information about their past, and the betrayals that marked them. As for the romance?To be honest, I rooted for a different love interest and that's the main reason it took me some time to digest the blooming relationship between Mariko and a certain character. There was poetry in their interactions, though, and bittersweet longing coated in lies and deceipt, and it eventually managed to warm my heart. “The entire time she'd watched him - waited for him to join her, even in death - her features had remained serene. A flame in the mist.” Why 4 stars, then?Well, it's actually 3.5, and I did enjoy the book. It was beautiful, and the plot managed to captivate me until the final page, and the last chapters with their explosive twists fueled my hunger, my need to know what happens next. The way I see it, I possibly had very high expectations because I am familiar with the work of Renee Ahdieh, and while I wasn't disappointed, I wasn't blown away either. You can find this review and more on BookNest!
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  • Maram
    January 1, 1970
    “The entire time she'd watched him - waited for him to join her, even in death - her features had remained serene. A flame in the mist.”After reading The Wrath & the Dawn duology, Renee Ahdieh easily landed as one of my favorite authors. So it pains me to say that her most recent release (with the most stunning cover ever) just didn’t make the cut for me. For those who are aware of the premise, Flame in the Mist sounds pretty darn fantastic. It seems like a Mulan retelling with badass warrio “The entire time she'd watched him - waited for him to join her, even in death - her features had remained serene. A flame in the mist.”After reading The Wrath & the Dawn duology, Renee Ahdieh easily landed as one of my favorite authors. So it pains me to say that her most recent release (with the most stunning cover ever) just didn’t make the cut for me. For those who are aware of the premise, Flame in the Mist sounds pretty darn fantastic. It seems like a Mulan retelling with badass warriors, magic, sweet revenge and action. What I got instead was the main character, Mariko, wasting her days within the confinement of her thoughts and not doing anything significant all throughout. Also, it's definitely NOT a Mulan retelling as the story takes place in Japan and war is set only at the very end of the book. Pg 58: “Anger was a reckless emotion. And she needed all her wits if she intended to outmatch this boy.”Pg 73: “This boy deserved to be hung upside down and drowned in Yedo Bay.”Pg 121: “Today her thoughts were consumed by murderous retribution. Mariko had dreamed of setting fire to the Black Clan’s camp no less than ten times in the past hour.”Pg 131: “Mariko needed to learn why the Black Clan had brought her to their encampment.”Pg 169: “I will not yield to my emotions.”Pg 228: “Mariko would kill Okami if he so much as reached for a sword.”Pg 240: “There was far more to the Black Clan than she’d first thought.”Pg 275: “Mariko was here on a mission. Here to discover why the Black Clan had tried to kill her. To discover who wanted her dead.”Pg 352: “If there was any chance of finding the Black Clan’s encampment without stumbling into a trap, Mariko hoped a girl would be the first one to do it.” THE WRITING: Just like in TWatD, the writing in FitM is whimsical and has a way of making you feel like you’re a part of its world. Unlike the author’s previous work, it was a strain to keep me locked in. Less than halfway through, I no longer felt the need to care for this world and its characters. Seeing that all I had been able to gather were overpowering descriptions of unnecessary things, unexplained magical system, no character depth, boring dialogues, and lack of action. Not to also mention, new characters popping in and out of the blue. I was left utterly confused by its complexity. THE CHARACTERS: Mariko:⁃ Annoying⁃ Annoyingly cocky⁃ A dum dum⁃ Creator of one too many unnecessary mess⁃ Doesn’t clean up her mess⁃ Annoying⁃ Very exhausting to be in her head⁃ Annoyingly stubborn⁃ Hates being a girl⁃ Hates being a boy⁃ Annoyingly unsatisfied with her lifePg 53: “Curious has been the word most often ascribed to her when she was younger. She’d been the watchful sort of child. The one conscious of every mistake.”Pg 68: “Mariko was . . . odd. Curious. Clever. Perhaps too clever, as her father always said. It has never been met as a compliment, though she had always taken it as one… These men would not want to see Mariko as odd or curious or clever.”Pg 82: “His sister had always been a scholar of reason, devoid of emotion.”Kenshin (Mariko’s brother):⁃ He’s alright I guess⁃ Smart unlike his sister⁃ The last 150 pages left me all confusedBlack Clan Members:⁃ They didn’t annoy me ⁃ But they warmed up to Mariko?? so SCREW YOU GUYS.Other characters:⁃ I don’t know any of their names⁃ I don’t care for them⁃ What’s with their random appearances? THE ROMANCE: This book could do without romance. The chemistry between the characters that shall not be named was completely off. The part where they both realized their feelings for each other had me laughing and not in a good way. Their relationship is yet another thing to dwell on especially because it seemed unfocused but at the same time, the consequences towards the end says otherwise. Le example of their love:Boy: You’re lying.Girl: You’re lying too.Boy: You’re a liar.Girl: Take off your mask.Boy: A mask can easily be taken off.Girl: So you don’t mind me lying?Boy: I like you less when you’re lying.”I may lie every day of my life, Hattori Mariko. But my heart will always be true.” THE ENDING: huhhh???? OVERALL: Regardless of this book not living up to its potential, the writing’s gorgeous and there was some level of excitement with the whole random pop ups here and there. As for the romance, it’s a shame that one work’s strength turned out to be this one’s weakness (be it intentionally or not). Lastly, the ending made me seriously regret reading around 400 pages because it was just pointless?Nevertheless, I adore the author and I can’t wait to read whatever she comes up with next :)1.75? stars---YO, I'M SO EXCITED FOR THIS!BUDDY READ WITH THE GANGSTERS???EMMAAAAAASOLOMONNNNNNELISEEEEEEEE
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  • jessica
    January 1, 1970
    you know that feeling when you finish a book and just have to take a moment to appreciate that it was exactly what you needed to read at that particular moment? that is what im feeling right now. i feel so content. i loved everything about this. the writing was classic ahdieh - stunning and poetic.the characters, especially mariko, were so real. wow. i loved mariko. she was the embodiment of a strong female. i loved the lessons she learned - how to not only accept her place as a woman, but the s you know that feeling when you finish a book and just have to take a moment to appreciate that it was exactly what you needed to read at that particular moment? that is what im feeling right now. i feel so content. i loved everything about this. the writing was classic ahdieh - stunning and poetic.the characters, especially mariko, were so real. wow. i loved mariko. she was the embodiment of a strong female. i loved the lessons she learned - how to not only accept her place as a woman, but the strength and power she holds because of it. i really enjoyed the plot. i know many people have compared this to mulan, and although there are some similarities, i wouldnt really consider this a retelling. this was its own unique story. i also loved the japanese culture and traditions present in this - it gave the story such a rich feel. everything about this created such a remarkable and magical book. im so happy i waited to read this until the sequel was released, because i am desperate to continue the story!↠ 4.5 stars
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  • Sana
    January 1, 1970
    I knew it wasn't a good idea to read this book because I was told this is similar to The Wrath and the Dawn and *surprise* I wasn't a fan of that duology. Reading this book felt like waiting for math class to just fuckign end. I couldn't wait to get this book over. I was literally counting down the pages till this fucking ended. I. JUST. WANTED. THIS. TO. END. I finally learned true human suffering. This actually wasn't that bad in the beginning except for Mariko's constant repetition of "I am b I knew it wasn't a good idea to read this book because I was told this is similar to The Wrath and the Dawn and *surprise* I wasn't a fan of that duology. Reading this book felt like waiting for math class to just fuckign end. I couldn't wait to get this book over. I was literally counting down the pages till this fucking ended. I. JUST. WANTED. THIS. TO. END. I finally learned true human suffering. This actually wasn't that bad in the beginning except for Mariko's constant repetition of "I am brave and I won't be weak" like every two pages and the fact that the plot and romance were utter shit.If I can go back in time to stop myself from reading, Iwould, in a heartbeat because ew, this was horrible. ※So what is this book about???Mariko is a daughter of a samurai who is betrothed to the emperors son. While traveling to meet him, her carriage is attacked and everyone is killed by The Black Clan. But she survives!!!!! wow, oh my god!!! Instead of going to back to her family, she decides to disguise herself as a boy and hunt the Black Clan to plot her revenge and earn her honor!!Sounds like a great idea!!!! If only it stayed as an amazing idea and not destroyed by being published in the form of this book!!!!●First of all my dudes, Mariko was just fucking annoying. I get she wants to show her mama raised no coward, but like???? constantly repeating that shit for the first 50 or something pages, gets really annoying.Hmmmm here's something wild, shut the fuck your mouth, glue that shit shut my dude, and actually do something that proves your bravery!!!※Is the Black Clan supposed to be terrifying and "so bad" enough to make me piss my pants because ummmmm, I felt like I was reading about little kids trying to play warrior. They didn't come off as dangerous thieves to me. The Black Clan is perfectly summed up in this gif:※The plot was extremely slow and boring. I think it's because all that happens in this book is Mariko spying on The Black Clan and nothing actually happening until the last 10% of this book. I literally feel like I sat through math class where I'm staring at the bored and learning fucking nothing and should've just skipped that class because,, what's the point?? ※I actually ended up liking Mariko a bit after she shut up about not being a coward, but then I wanted to choke her when she fell in lurveeee.????????You said you won't let love stop you and I was promised you'd be a badass who won't melt for some dick, but???? the fuck, I'm suing for false advertisement because I got the opposite of what I expected!!!She was supposed to slaughter the Black Clan, not fall in love with its leaders best friend and have a change of plans!!!!I'm sorry, but what the actual fuck?And,,, this shit brings me to the romance. *gags*:You know that moment when your alarm wakes you up 6:30 a.m in the morning, but you decide to rest your eyes for a few more minutes and then, you wake up and it's 2069 and the aliens are attacking planet earth. Guys, legit, I'm flipping through the pages of this book I'm reading the book and then all of a sudden they're kissing and wanting to fuck and I just cringe back, like, um yikes I liked it better when you wanted to murder Wolf boy. Did I miss something, like did my eyes get momentarily hacked or some shit because bro, HOW IS THIS HAPPENING???????The romance just blossomed out of nowhere???? I'm????? so confused???? And it's not even the kind you want to ship, I want this romance to die because it's fucking cringe. Overall, I'm not impressed and just want my time back that was spent reading this trash.And a 10000000x better book about Japanese mythology is definitely Red Winter. I totally recommend that book over this!!!!
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  • Roshani Chokshi
    January 1, 1970
    Conversation with parts of myself upon finishing:Heart: RENEE, WHAT KIND OF TWISTY EMOTIONAL GENIUS WAS THIS. SEE THIS? *flings crumpled red thing on floor* THAT WAS MY HEART.Brain: BUT HOW. The layered-ness. The prosey-ness. So melt in your mouth delicious. I wanna eat it! Is it edible? *nibbles laptop* No. No it is not. That was a mistake. Why did we do that.Body: *starts singing R. Kelly* I don't see nothing wronnnnnnnng with a lil bump 'n griiiiiiind (this book was STEAMY)Soul: I'm hurting. Conversation with parts of myself upon finishing:Heart: RENEE, WHAT KIND OF TWISTY EMOTIONAL GENIUS WAS THIS. SEE THIS? *flings crumpled red thing on floor* THAT WAS MY HEART.Brain: BUT HOW. The layered-ness. The prosey-ness. So melt in your mouth delicious. I wanna eat it! Is it edible? *nibbles laptop* No. No it is not. That was a mistake. Why did we do that.Body: *starts singing R. Kelly* I don't see nothing wronnnnnnnng with a lil bump 'n griiiiiiind (this book was STEAMY)Soul: I'm hurting. But I like it? What sorcery is this....In short: pre-order this gem asap.
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  • Warda
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 flaming stars! 🌟 This was even better the 2nd time round. When I initially read, I didn’t think I’d enjoy it. My expectations were low because I judged it purely on my dislike for The Wrath and the Dawn duology. Which is stupid, and I'm glad I was proven wrong, because I LOVED it. Such captivating, Mulan inspired story, in a world which had an enchanting Japanese backdrop, where the writing was so gorgeous I wanted to lap it up, and had such a bad-ass main character, Mariko. I loved everyt 4.5 flaming stars! 🌟 This was even better the 2nd time round. When I initially read, I didn’t think I’d enjoy it. My expectations were low because I judged it purely on my dislike for The Wrath and the Dawn duology. Which is stupid, and I'm glad I was proven wrong, because I LOVED it. Such captivating, Mulan inspired story, in a world which had an enchanting Japanese backdrop, where the writing was so gorgeous I wanted to lap it up, and had such a bad-ass main character, Mariko. I loved everything she stood for, determined on destroying patriarchy and finding a voice for herself. There's a lot of groundwork that has been set up in order for the story to be built upon and develop in the next book and it makes me so damn excited to see where it's headed! 😍
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  • emi
    January 1, 1970
    4/5 stars "Be as swift as the wind. As silent as the forest. As fierce as the fire. As unshakable as the mountain." You might be saying to yourself, “Wow? A review for Mist in the Flame? Didn’t you promise to post this three weeks ago?” Actually, you aren’t, but I’m going to pretend you actually care and are. Which I reply to you. Yes. I was. But I got lazy. It happens. But better late than never. First just a huge thank you for Penguin Teen sending me an arc of this book. You guys are the 4/5 stars "Be as swift as the wind. As silent as the forest. As fierce as the fire. As unshakable as the mountain." You might be saying to yourself, “Wow? A review for Mist in the Flame? Didn’t you promise to post this three weeks ago?” Actually, you aren’t, but I’m going to pretend you actually care and are. Which I reply to you. Yes. I was. But I got lazy. It happens. But better late than never. First just a huge thank you for Penguin Teen sending me an arc of this book. You guys are the coolest. If there’s any other arc you wanna send my way, please don’t hold back. So now that I got all that out of the way. I just wanna say that this review isn't just a review. It's also my eulogy. Because this book actually killed me. R.I.P EmiJune 1998-May 2017.She died doing what she loves. Crying over fictional characters. I've been dead for three weeks and y'all didn't even notice. Rude. But I'm gonna forgive you if you pick up this book and join me here in the afterlife. This book is just so awesome? It makes me wanna run into the forest and join a group outlaws. Do they even exist anymore? Do they accept emotionally unstable introverts? If you like action, beautiful covers, girls who are better than you, and some other stuff, this book is just what you are looking for. It's also really informational? Before reading this, all I knew about Samurai is pretty much nothing and I learned so much about their history. obviously, I will never be an expert, but it's nice to read about a topic that isn't taught in schools very often. The writing is also so beautiful. Renee Ahdieh is establishing herself as a very consistent author which is great and all but she's also incredibly gorgeous so I'm very much intimidated by her entire life. The Wrath & the Dawn is still higher on my favorites list then this one, but this was a great follow-up to that series. So if you didn't know what this book is about. It's marketed as a Mulan meets 47 Ronin. I am unfamiliar on 47 Ronin, so I don't know how accurate that is. But the Mulan part. It's a pretty good comparison. However, if you are going into this book expecting the entire plot of Mulan conveyed using the English alphabet and paper, you are wrong. It's there, but this book is its own separate entity. At the beginning of this book, Mariko, who's father is this big bad Samurai, is being sent off to marry some dude she doesn't love. Pretty stereotypical. But when she was traveling to go get married off, her party is attacked and everyone dies. But she manages to get away. Mariko figures that this group called the Black Clan was responsible because they wanted to kill her. So, instead of running the opposite direction like any sane person would, she disguises herself as a boy and goes undercover in the Black Clan to figure out why the hell they wanted to assassinate her.I'll be honest. The first part of this book is kinda slow. There is just a lot of haning around, not doing much in the woods. But once you prevail into the last part, everything becomes worth it. Let's talk characters. Shall we? It's been awhile since I finished this book, so I don't remember too many details. But I'll try. Markio. Can I be her? I want to be her. She's better than you. My only complaint is that she's supposed to be like this mastermind with scientific stuff, but we don't get to see that a lot. Okami. I wasn't paying any attention to his character, to be honest. I didn't think he would be important. Then Ahdieh went in a direction I didn't expect with him and I regretted barely giving him a second glance. Don't be me. Appreciate him throughout the entire novel. Ranmaru. I'm gonna be honest with you. I kinda don't remember his character very much? He reminded me of Robin Hood though. Kenshin. He's Markio brother and he's kind of an asshole. But I'm not really surprised. But I did really love how much he loved his sister? (view spoiler)[ But would your brother work as hard as he did to find you? He set the brotherly love bar really high. I'm thinking about disappearing to see if mine would. He probably wouldn't even know I was gone. (hide spoiler)]In conclusion. This book is amazing and you should read it. Honestly, I don't know how you are reading this and just ignoring the beautiful cover. Except, is it a peacock or a phoenix on the cover? I just can't figure it out.
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  • Reynita Maharani ★ The Night Reader ★
    January 1, 1970
    EDIT : I reread this book and I still enjoyed it but not as much as the first time I read it. I used to give it 5 stars but I changed my mind and gave it 4 stars instead. "If I am marching to my death, then I will march to it as a girl. Without fear." This book is about a girl named Hattori Mariko, whose convoy is attacked by the Black Clan, when she is on her way to the palace to meet her future husband, the future husband she does not choose and love. She is supposed to be dead but she s EDIT : I reread this book and I still enjoyed it but not as much as the first time I read it. I used to give it 5 stars but I changed my mind and gave it 4 stars instead. "If I am marching to my death, then I will march to it as a girl. Without fear." This book is about a girl named Hattori Mariko, whose convoy is attacked by the Black Clan, when she is on her way to the palace to meet her future husband, the future husband she does not choose and love. She is supposed to be dead but she survives and now, she wants revenge. She dresses as a boy and then she wants to find out who sent the Black Clan to kill her and why this person wants her dead. My Opinion OH MY GOD. I didn't expect this. I didn't expect I would love it this much. I didn't expect the pain that I would suffer when I finished reading it. I swear, I thought about this book a whole night, last night, because I just couldn't forget how amazing it was and how it caused me a great pain. I shed tears several times over the beautiful and powerful quotes in this book. The quotes are both beautiful, powerful and great at the same time and I found myself nodding and agreeing to these quotes. There are so many quotes that I love in this book and my copy is full of sticky notes. These are one of the quotes that I love : "There is such strength in being a woman. But it is a strengthyou must choose for yourself. No one can choose it for you. We can bend the wind to our ear if we would only try." Fear kept her alert. She would always let it feed her. Neverlet it consume her. and there are still so many more quotes that I love so much that I won't put them here, because you need to read the book to see these quotes. But believe me, the quotes are so beautiful and powerful. The Plot I LOVED THE PLOT. Honestly, I can't decide whether it's slow-paced or fast-paced. I mean, there are many things that happen in the book but when I finished the book, I felt it was so fast. But I also think it's slow-paced because I got the chance to know the secondary characters and the MC. Sorry if I'm being confusing hahahaha because I honestly can't decide about the pace of the book. for me, it felt both fast and slow paced. AND THIS BOOK MADE ME LAUGH SO HARD. THAT RARELY HAPPENS. I cannot tell you the story because it might be spoiler and I don't want to spoil anyone, But I laughed several times while reading it. Most of the time, it's the banter between Mariko and Ōkami. They're just so funny and I can't help but laughing or grinning, when they bicker. The Romance "My heart knows your heart. A heart doesn't care about good or bad, right or wrong. A heart is always true." I TOTALLY LOVED THE ROMANCE. THIS IS THE KIND OF ROMANCE THAT I LOVE TO READ. It is enemy-to-lover and for me, it didn't feel rushed or forced to happen. It was sweet and romantic and IT WAS SLOW BURN AND NO LOVE TRIANGLES. THIS IS THE KIND OF ROMANCE THAT I ALWAYS LOOK FOR IN BOOKS. The MC and the love interest took time to know each other and they eventually developed feelings for each other and it happened slowly, not instantly and by the time I finished this book, I got these feelings that one day, I want to have a man that look at me and think about me the way the love interest look and think about Mariko. I just don't know what else I have to say about the romance, other than I loved it and I SHIP IT. I hope to see more of the love interest in the second book. I CANNOT WAIT TO READ IT. I HOPE THE SECOND BOOK WILL DESTROY ME. I love to be destroyed by books. The Characters *inhales* *exhales* I COULD RELATE SO MUCH TO MARIKO. I swear, when I read this book and I felt like I was looking in the mirror, because I could relate to Mariko so much and Mariko was an amazing character. She was brave, fierce, strong, clever and determined. Look, even though I could relate to her very much. I wouldn't be as strong as she was. Maybe I would weep. Everything she had been through was beyond what I could bear and she was strong and fierce to deal with these problems. Honestly, I want to be just like her. AND OH MY GOD. THE BROMANCE AND THEIR LOYALTY TO EACH OTHER. OH MY GOD. I LOVE IT SO MUCH. I CANNOT GET ENOUGH OF IT. I NEED MORE. THIS IS SO BEAUTIFUL. THIS IS WHAT I HAVE ALWAYS LOOKED FOR IN BOOKS. Basically everything that I have always looked for are all in this book and I am so glad that I read it. This book is beautiful and the quotes in this book are purely beautiful and powerful. I love them so much. "I believethe stars align so that souls can find one another. Whether theyare meant to be souls in love or souls in life remains to be seen." ✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨ Review to come today! All I can say now is, my heart is utterly severely broken. ---------------------------------------------- I've been feeling sad and bitter for a few days because everything that I have read so far disappointed me. So I hope, it won't happen with this book. I REALLY NEED a book that leaves me in awe.
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  • Stacee
    January 1, 1970
    Renée is an auto buy for me, so after screaming, I immediately downloaded this and started it.I love Mariko right from the beginning. She's so smart and so strong, but she's unaware of her abilities. It was delightful to see her figure out her potential and place in the world. The members of the Black Clan are interesting and quite the enigma. I loved seeing their truths revealed.I did struggle with the names and that is my main complaint. Each character seemed to have several nicknames, officia Renée is an auto buy for me, so after screaming, I immediately downloaded this and started it.I love Mariko right from the beginning. She's so smart and so strong, but she's unaware of her abilities. It was delightful to see her figure out her potential and place in the world. The members of the Black Clan are interesting and quite the enigma. I loved seeing their truths revealed.I did struggle with the names and that is my main complaint. Each character seemed to have several nicknames, official names and titles and they were all thrown around. Often in the same paragraph. Eventually I sort of gave up trying to keep people straight.The plot is a bit of a slow burn, but it's captivating. I was sucked in right from the start. The ending is enraging and satisfying and I can't even wait to see what happens next.**Huge thanks to GP Putnam's Sons and Edelweiss for providing the arc free of charge**
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  • Em
    January 1, 1970
    the real me is three kids in a trench coat and they’re all Conflicted “The only power any man has over you is the power you give him.” hmm that good post-book inner conflict i honest to god can’t decide whether i liked this book or not, this is like my own brain who keeps passing over me when i put my hand up first and she needs to stopi mean identifying emotions and communicating them is truly such an alien concept, i feel like i’m in a house where my teenage children are having a rogue huge pa the real me is three kids in a trench coat and they’re all Conflicted “The only power any man has over you is the power you give him.” hmm that good post-book inner conflict i honest to god can’t decide whether i liked this book or not, this is like my own brain who keeps passing over me when i put my hand up first and she needs to stopi mean identifying emotions and communicating them is truly such an alien concept, i feel like i’m in a house where my teenage children are having a rogue huge party and i don’t know any of their friends but they’re destroying my stuff and i’m picking up red solo cups off the floor.but i guess that’s just it?? i don’t really have any emotions for this book. it’s like most of them have consolidated into a pile of indifference and i’m just more or less tired.it was just totally forgettable and my attention span is already a commercial break long but reading flame in the mist was like being in the middle of a conversation with someone but you'd rather be somewhere elseand i'm not making this shit up but istg as i was halfway through, i legit caught myself thinking how a velociraptor could have eaten a triceratops right there in that spot where i was just reading and how we're all just sisters through time (don't ask my brain is a weird place)the only reason i'm giving this book an extra star is because of the setting. i liked the japanese aspects, it's not every day that you get to read about it in ya so there's that. actually, the only event i vividly remember was that scene with the yabusame (the mounted archers). and now that i think about it, it really had no relevance to the actual plot line but surprisingly, that was the only time my brain wasn't the equivalent of the black and white fuzz on the tv when it’s not tuned ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ listen, i had the biggest déjà-vu and i stg it felt like someone stuck in a timeloop living the wrath & the dawn over and over and i'm just a background character who remembers nothing about it but is forced to sit through that and i will actually dissolve i refuse to live that book more than once déjà-vu #1: shahrzad in twtd spent more time whining about how much she hates khalid and less time plotting an actual attempt against him and in the end she fell in lurve with him....mmmkay, Nextmariko here spent more time vowing to use her smartness and bestness to unwrap the //mystery// of the black clan wanting to kill her and less time actually trying to figure shit out. instead well - do i even have to tell you?? - SHE!! FELL!! IN!!! LURVE!!. (also said shit still hasn't been figured out lmao ) déjà-vu #2: this comes from a place of love but for someone who was striving to free themselves from the shackles of other people's expectations of them, to be a strong independant individual and not be trampled under the feet of men and "had never understood the notion [of finding one's other half]. She was not a half. She was wholly her own" bc YAAS GIRL nobody's your better half because first of all you're whole and second of all nobody is a better you than you............mariko sure forgot about that at the first sight of (view spoiler)[okami (hide spoiler)]'s "smooth muscles", and pretty much everything became centered around him and i swear it's like when those youtubers think i care so much about their fucking boyfriend. like who is he??? why is he in the video??? who gives a shit??? anyway,, *puts on sunglasses through these pounding headaches to remain cool and casual* me?? Annoyed?? yes. constantlyas for the rest of the characters, their presence neither improved or detracted from this experience tbh they didn't even figure in my enjoyment, it's like a seething apathy and i don't think i even remember who was who?????? there were so many povs and sometimes they didn't even make sense????? i also struggled with the writing, in fact, there's this line that still haunts me "the sound of the giant's laughter brought to mind a dog choking on a bone"...... like????? whaaaa?? WHY WOULD YOU EVEN GO THERE ??? tfit felt as if the author was trying too hard tbh, like when you want to write something genuinely touching that makes the reader wants to reevaluate their opinions and life-views but then your life changing advice is “you must learn even when knowledge itself may fail you”????????no offense but that has as much meaning to me as “take a nice stroll across the Camelopardalis constellation”, like in theory sure it sounds nice but in practice.....in like reality...... what is step A? 1? The start? WHAT TF DOES THAT EVEN SUPPOSED TO MEAN?? overall: i know i sound so horribly apathetic and i am, i wish i could be consumed with passion for this book but i have no passions and i was just really fucking bored br with my wife, prag, maybelline and the boy
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  • amy
    January 1, 1970
    aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. nothing like being let down by your most anticipated release of the year.:) :) :) i'm cool. i'm chill. whatever. everybody knows too much salt isn't healthy for your body so i'm gonna try and be rational and keep the roasting to a minimum and everything rated G and family friendly so let's go General Thoughts: i mean, how do you hear "mulan retelling" and not get excited??? sure, Miss Ahdieh and I had our differences in the past, but despite that, i thought we cou aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. nothing like being let down by your most anticipated release of the year.:) :) :) i'm cool. i'm chill. whatever. everybody knows too much salt isn't healthy for your body so i'm gonna try and be rational and keep the roasting to a minimum and everything rated G and family friendly so let's go General Thoughts: i mean, how do you hear "mulan retelling" and not get excited??? sure, Miss Ahdieh and I had our differences in the past, but despite that, i thought we could make up just for a sec and get together to drink chamomile tea and paint each others toenails while discussing flame in the mist....... but no. what i got, was the walmart version of mulan. this book feels like it tried too hard to be something it's just not, and you can feel it on every page in every sentence with every word, like............everything from the romance to the plot is so god damn predictable and boring and unoriginal, i don't even know where my disappointment starts or ends. Characters: • Marikoi just don't like her and i hope i never meet the real life version of her bc i'm 900% sure she's the type of human that causes headaches just from being present. "Hattori Mariko wasn not just any girl. She was more." She was also the most annoying mc i've ever encountered in any book, ever.• Kenshinall i learned was that he has even worse anger issues than i have, so he's definitely somebody i don't want anything to do with, i think the fUCK not no thanks bye• Okamilegit the only character i actually liked. what a lad. "You are first and foremost a person. [...] 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're a girl.""There is such strength in being a woman. But it is a strength you must choose for yourself. No one can choose it for you." i just...... love all the women-empowering little speeches he gave. mariko was always like oh no!! i'm a woman!! :((( and okami was literally like ???????????????????? sonothing but respect for MY president Romance: this is where i'm kinda conflicted bc even tho i hate 1/2 of the pairing (mariko), i still..... semi-liked it? more or less.it was still very predictable tho :) Plot: yeah can i get uuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhh 1 original, non-predictable, exciting plot please? trying something new.(1) i don't see how this is a mulan retelling (2) what even was the plot either nothing was happening or everything was happening (3) 90% of the time while reading this i was just like, with all due respect, what the fucki couldn't keep any of the characters apart, i didn't know who what when what's happening who IS THIS and i couldn't bring myself to care about anything or anyone. also, at one point i was so bored i LEGIT started STUDYING instead of reading,,,,,, this is when you know the world is ending soon, folks. Final Thoughts: i can't believe i made it to the other side; reading this book felt like one of the most difficult obstacles in my life and honestly i feel like my soul left my body somewhere around the 150 pages markso, i guess this is it. i'm gonna go meditate or something to get rid of all this negative energy i've been carrying around me while writing this review. somebody wake me up when people stOP HYPING BOOKS FOR NO REASON like jfc i don't want to have all these expectations.i'm sorry if this review offended anybody in any way, and i literally tried to get my points across as rational as possible. give me some credit.(also, somewhere along the lines i forgot that Capitalization actually exists and i'm sorry but by this point and time in my career on the goodreads dot com i've stopped giving fucks, sue me)
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  • Nastassja
    January 1, 1970
    *I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*“I’ve never been angry to have been born a woman. There have been times I’ve been angry at how the world treats us, but I see being a woman as a challenge I must fight. Like being born under a stormy sky. Some people are lucky enough to be born on a bright summer’s day. Maybe we were born under clouds. No wind. No rain. Just a mountain of clouds we must climb each morning so that we may see the sun.”I was hesitan *I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*“I’ve never been angry to have been born a woman. There have been times I’ve been angry at how the world treats us, but I see being a woman as a challenge I must fight. Like being born under a stormy sky. Some people are lucky enough to be born on a bright summer’s day. Maybe we were born under clouds. No wind. No rain. Just a mountain of clouds we must climb each morning so that we may see the sun.”I was hesitant to read Flame in the Mist after a total miss-miss The Wrath & the Dawn was for me, so take to consideration that if you read and enjoyed the aforementioned TWATD, there's a very big chance you'll enjoy FITM as much or maybe even more.This book follows a story of seventeen years old Mariko, whose life is suffocating her with rules and confines of being a proper lady, meant for only one purpose: to be a prize sold into a political marriage that will benefit her father. So when on her way to her future husbands, Mariko is almost killed and is presumed dead for the rest of the world, she seizes the opportunity to finally become her own person and follow her dreams. As many of you already know, this book is a loose retelling of Mulan featuring a strong-minded heroine and her adventures in feudal Japan. Japanese culture is, alas, a rare guest in YA literature these days, and one of the reasons I was willing to give Renee Ahdieh another chance was this unique setting, and, plus, you know, who can say no to Mulan, right? I must say, to the extent of my knowledge, which is really not big, and judging by the feelings I had during the reading process, I absolutely loved the setting in this book. It really felt like I was reading a book about Japanese culture and had this ghostly feeling of being present in a world of samurais and ronins; I felt bushido – the way of the warrior - the heroine and other characters were following. Side note: I would recommend to look into the glossary in the end of the book before you start reading. There’s a lot of Japanese terms in the book that will make it easier if you acknowledge yourself with them beforehand. The first 30% or so of the book were perfect for me: I liked everything about it; I admired and almost loved Mariko as our main character: her resolve to act, to rise above her stand, which was a hard task for a woman at the time, was admirable. And Mariko used her brains and wisdom to fight her way in the world of men dominance. She wasn’t perfect, she made mistakes, but imperfect is what means to be human. Funny thing, though, is the more I read the more repetitive everything Mariko did became. It felt like she stuck in her character development at one point, and there was nothing to show any progress, only the author’s desperate attempt to justify Mariko by telling to us how smart and sly she is, how she outsmarted everyone, and how everyone was nodding in conformation of Mariko’s genius, but 'tell, don’t show' is not the best way of moving your character development, readers need facts to believe, and the book showed the opposite of author’s words. For example, almost everything Mariko did when she got to the Black Clan (Rebels) was forgiven or oversighted: Black Clan executed people for less than what Mariko was given a free pass for. And why? Because she’s a mysterious new recruit? Or because she’s so special? Special snowflake alert someone?! Or sometimes the logic behind her actions was so lame, you couldn’t understand how did this happen if even a child could’ve predicted the outcome Mariko couldn’t see (view spoiler)[When Mariko warned her brother about Black Clan’s plan to raid the granary, she expected what? That there wouldn’t be any fight, sworn enemies would just drink tea, talk and go home? Or after she understood how fucked up the situation was, because of her stupidity she did what? She set granary on fire expecting to do what exactly? This was the food her people needed, and she thought using bombs in the proximity of the easily inflamed granary would do what, again? Fireworks? Well, that was definitely so stupid I can’t even say how disappointed I was with Mariko. (hide spoiler)] He was smart, despite his age. Exceedingly watchful. A trait Mariko prized in herself. Um, no Mariko, bragging about how genius you are is a way to becoming an egotistical schmoe. Alas, I must admit that there was not enough depth to the main character to make me fully sympathize with and respect her. Secondary characters though, they were more interesting than Mariko. Remember three mysterious book boyfriends I mentioned in my updates? Yes, Okami, Kenshin and Ranmaru are their names. Though they had less book space than Mariko did, I found myself following their stories with much more interest that I did with the heroine. I don’t want to reveal who was Mariko’s love interest, because it is kind of a surprise, but I'll mentione Kenshin - Mariko’s brother. I was looking forward to siblings’ relationship, which is one of my favorite topics in books, because I have a brother and can totally relate with conflicts between siblings. Alas, in this book there wasn’t enough ground to note something remarkable about Mariko and Kenshin’s relationship. They barely share one scene, and in the whole book there was little mention of their ‘before’ relationship. Despite often sounding wise and telling the right thing, characters lacked some integral depth that would make them more endearing for a reader like me. The other major problem I had with this book is the romance. I don’t know what it is about Renee Ahdieh’s writing, but the way she outlines romantic relationship between main characters is very cliché-like and oppressive. What I mean is she seems to always follow the same pattern in her books: from enemies to lovers, where characters start strong and independent, but the more time they spend in the near proximity to their romantic interest, the clingier they become. In this book Mariko had a solid mission. Quoting: Follow orders. Engender trust. Strike when they least expect it. She repeated these words a million times, I swear, it became some kind of a parrot words. But what she actually spent her time doing? Salivating over her romantic interest’s abs. Her trail of thoughts: I hate him, but I want him; I was always so strong-willed, but I see his abs and to what places my will goes? The love interest brought out a wild, uncontrolled part of herself, Mariko had not even known existed before. Right, that sounds alarmingly familiar. And the same goes for the aforementioned love interest: he was always so controlled and the girl made him loose control he so much prided himself for. Oookay, if you say so, darling. *redirects to the gif above* I think the author rushed the romance too much, it would’ve been better if the romance was left on the stage of hints and slow-burn for the next book to develop more, because it seriously turned the whole story into one angsty drama with hasty love-for-life declarations that spoiled all the fun for me.But, as it was with the romance in TWATD, I was rooting for secondary characters’ romantic developments in FITM as well. I don’t know why, but in both author’s previous books and in this one, forbidden romance between secondary characters feels more real and endearing to me. There wasn’t much of it, and the scenes we had were heartbreaking and sweet and ten times more intriguing than Mariko’s love drama. One more thing I want to mention in my review is the ending. I am sorry to be such a Grinch, but, again, I wasn’t impressed with it, and the twist didn’t make me gasp, only if maybe in disappointment (view spoiler)[ Okami turned out to be the true leader of the Black Clan and true heir of the Samurai legacy. Um, he was perfect before and now he became ideal for Mariko to marry and ally her family with him, when he restores his birth right. And who doubts that he would? Not me. Predictable much. (hide spoiler)]Overall, Flame in the Mist is definitely a book worth reading if only for the Japanese setting and Eastern wisdom. But if you weren’t a fan of author’s previous works, don’t expect to fall in love with this one, because it follows a lot of the same tropes TWATD had. And, on the contrary, if you were a fan, it is highly positive you will love this book as well. For me it was a 50/50 case, some things I liked a lot, some made me roll my eyes a lot. But I am definitely reading book 2 (by the way, is it a duology or trilogy?), and am looking forward to more book space for my new book boyfriends and secondary romances. Also, the plot was quite engaging, and a couple of questions left make me highly curious as how things will work out in the sequel. My finale verdict: recommended!
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  • Joshua Gabriel (조수아)
    January 1, 1970
    The only power a man has over you is the power you give him. —OkamiI actually forgot most of the events in Mulan, since I watched it around eleven years ago. Still, I was very excited to read Flame in the Mist because Mulan is markedly empowered compared to other Disney princesses. I've always been attracted to both Feminist literature and Japanese culture, and I am glad to say that this book met most of my expectations. I can't wait for the rest of the YA community to devour it like I did. Than The only power a man has over you is the power you give him. —OkamiI actually forgot most of the events in Mulan, since I watched it around eleven years ago. Still, I was very excited to read Flame in the Mist because Mulan is markedly empowered compared to other Disney princesses. I've always been attracted to both Feminist literature and Japanese culture, and I am glad to say that this book met most of my expectations. I can't wait for the rest of the YA community to devour it like I did. Thank you, Hodder & Stoughton, for sending me an eARC! <3Flame in the Mist tells the story of Mariko, who is practically forced to marry the emperor's bastard son. Resigned to her fate of domesticity, she travels to the city of her betrothed. Along the way, a group of unidentified men attacks her caravan. In the aftermath, Mariko promises to unveil the truth behind her failed assassination and thereby prove her feminine worth.I found this book to be better than The Wrath & the Dawn duology, particularly in regards to character development. Mariko was not exactly a femme fatale, but I quickly perceived her inner and outer strength. The men around her treated her horribly, but she did not let them quench the fire in her heart. Mariko's ability to invent deadly bombs out of scratch also made her a force to be reckoned with. In other words, she was anything but a damsel in distress.In one of my reading updates, I expressed how I despised the men in this book. Generally, they were arrogant, insensitive, and downright insufferable. I liked to think of them as literally cocky. :p Mariko's love interest was not an exception. I won't divulge his name because I don't want to spoil anyone. For now, let's just call him X. I honestly did not expect Mariko to fall in love with him because of his douche bag behavior. I understood that X treated Mariko like he would a fellow man, but I was annoyed nonetheless. I only managed to like him by the end of the book, when Mariko's secret was revealed. He suddenly acted like a Feminist, so he finally won me over. I SHIPPED THEM SO HARD!The only boy whom I liked from start to finish was Kenshin, Mariko's twin brother. I was attached to him because of his "emasculating" humility; it was so easy for him to acknowledge Mariko's intellectual superiority. Furthermore, his confidence in his sister's tenacity made me smile a lot. Essentially, Kenshin and Mariko's relationship was very heartwarming in that it rekindled my desire to have a sister. I already have two lovable bros, but...you get the point. Hahaha.The otaku side of me affected my appreciation of this book. Only God and my brothers know how much I love anything that has to do with Japan: anime, music, books, you name it! Hence, I had a lot of fun immersing myself in the harsh yet intriguing world of feudal Japan.Ironically, the main problem I encountered in this book was the elusive glossary. There were many unfamiliar Japanese terms throughout the novel, and I was too lazy to check them out online. I also did not bother to navigate to the end of the e-book (100%), which was the location of the said glossary. Huhu. It was too late; I wish I could undo my confusion.Overall, Flame in the Mist is an excellent retelling of Mulan. It is a testament to Renee Ahdieh's growth as a writer. With that in mind, I can only imagine what else she has in store for us.
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  • Ashwood (애쉬 우드).
    January 1, 1970
    "Death follows indecision, like a twisted arrow." That quote, the world of this book in general, the Nightbeast creatures and Kenshin (Mariko's brother), were the only great things in this story. The rest of this book sucked. I was really really expecting a killer story, after hearing all the hype about it. It was killer alright... killed my will power to continue reading it. Mariko was the complete opposite of what a selfless, avenging warrior lord's daughter is supposed be like. Because she wa "Death follows indecision, like a twisted arrow." That quote, the world of this book in general, the Nightbeast creatures and Kenshin (Mariko's brother), were the only great things in this story. The rest of this book sucked. I was really really expecting a killer story, after hearing all the hype about it. It was killer alright... killed my will power to continue reading it. Mariko was the complete opposite of what a selfless, avenging warrior lord's daughter is supposed be like. Because she was really self-flattering (when she was wasn't great to begin with), whinny, spoiled and annoying. I feel like I read a knockoff version, instead of A Flame in the Mist because it seriously was terrible😑
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  • Michiko
    January 1, 1970
    To give you an understanding of where this review is coming from, I'm a 1st-generation Japanese-American, bisexual, and non-binary. I was really disappointed with this book. (And yes, I knew that the book wasn't really a Mulan retelling going into it, so my disappointment has nothing to do with the marketing. But the marketing was crap.)1. There are a whole bunch of historical inaccuracies. And before you yell "But it's fantasy!" understand that this isn't an alternate Japan. It's historical Jap To give you an understanding of where this review is coming from, I'm a 1st-generation Japanese-American, bisexual, and non-binary. I was really disappointed with this book. (And yes, I knew that the book wasn't really a Mulan retelling going into it, so my disappointment has nothing to do with the marketing. But the marketing was crap.)1. There are a whole bunch of historical inaccuracies. And before you yell "But it's fantasy!" understand that this isn't an alternate Japan. It's historical Japan, with real historical people and places. The only thing that makes this fall under the fantasy genre is that there's a little magic thrown in, which btw Ms. Ahdieh doesn't explain at all. We don't ever learn how this magic system works, who all has magic and who doesn't, what the limits of the magic are, etc. But I'm getting off-topic. My point is, people who have no idea what they're talking about are praising this book for the historical research, and it's frustrating. Yeah Ms. Ahdieh learned some things about feudal Japan, but there's also a lot she messed up, everything from ridiculous character names to mentions of things that didn't exist in Japan until 100s of years later than when the story is set.2. I could happily go 20 years without reading another book involving cross-dressing written by a cis author. These books almost never consider trans/non-binary people, and keep enforcing crappy binary norms all over their novels. I'm so sick of it. If you're trans/non-binary, be aware this book has a lot of parts that might hurt you. And before you yell "But it's historical!" go do some research because trans/non-binary people have existed everywhere all throughout history. Yes the language and culture is different from how it's treated in modern Japan or modern America, but you can write a historical book that challenges some ideas about the notion of a gender binary.3. Besides trans/non-binary erasure, this book also has bi erasure. (None of Ms. Ahdieh's books have any LGBTQIAP+ characters to my knowledge, which is annoying, but that's just my personal opinion.) However, there's a part in this book where it makes no sense at all not to acknowledge bisexuality. This is a slight spoiler: (view spoiler)[When the love interest boy "discovers" the cross-dressing protagonist is a girl because he accidentally sees her boobs (which btw is all sorts of problematic and harmful from a trans perspective), she kisses him literally a second later. And he kisses her back. If he thought she was a boy this whole time, and is kissing her literally a second after he sees she has boobs...that suggests he had some sort of feelings for her when he thought she was a boy, right? So he's probably somewhere on the bi spectrum? But this is never discussed or even mentioned once in the whole book. It's completed ignored, and this boy's bisexuality is erased. (hide spoiler)]4. When will authors stop writing things like "tabi socks", "chai tea", etc.? Tabi are socks. When translated, you're basically saying "socks socks." It's obviously done to make certain westerners understand, but isn't it your job as a writer of historical fiction to convey ideas through context? You don't need to resort to this. Crap like this makes it clear the book isn't written for Japanese-Americans like me, who should be the first people you consider when writing a Japanese story in English. Related, I hate when "foreign" words are italicized in books. Especially when this is a Japanese character in Japan. These words aren't foreign to her, or to me. It's just another thing that tells me this book isn't written for Japanese people.5. I know some people call Ms. Ahdieh's books feminist, but I don't really agree. I don't know if any of them even pass the Bechdel test. This book in particular has a cast of mostly men. There's one girl who does absolutely nothing in the story except exist for the lusty male gaze of the protagonist's brother, and then (view spoiler)[she dies in order to provide motivation for the brother to seek revenge. Can we please put an end to that sexist and dehumanizing trope? Please? (hide spoiler)]I can't speak for all Japanese-American/bi/non-binary people, and I understand that others might have different opinions. But I personally can't recommend this book. I'm going to go search for a book by an LGBTQIAP+ Japanese author to cleanse me of these icky, uncomfortable, and hurt feelings I got from reading this book.
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  • April
    January 1, 1970
    "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.” // 👏🏼I 👏🏼 LOVED 👏🏼 THIS👏🏼 BOOK👏🏼 Did not disappoint. Need the next book!
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    This is my first book by Renee Ahdieh and it most certainly won't be my last. The writing is gorgeous, truly captivating me from start to finish. The feudal Japanese setting is fantastic and original. I have read very few books set in Japan, but I enjoyed this so much..I plan to fix that. The story is full of samurai, geisha, ronin, emperors, honor, secrets, and family. And even though at times the story was slower than I would've liked, I was enchanted through and through.I read this as a buddy This is my first book by Renee Ahdieh and it most certainly won't be my last. The writing is gorgeous, truly captivating me from start to finish. The feudal Japanese setting is fantastic and original. I have read very few books set in Japan, but I enjoyed this so much..I plan to fix that. The story is full of samurai, geisha, ronin, emperors, honor, secrets, and family. And even though at times the story was slower than I would've liked, I was enchanted through and through.I read this as a buddy read with Lauren. She writes strong, thoughtful reviews and has excellent taste in books. Check it out :)Mariko is on her way to Inako to marry the emperor's son when her litter gets attacked. If the Black Clan tried to kill her, then she'll be damned if she doesn't find out why and get her revenge. So Mariko is going to infiltrate the gang and do just that. Only problem is this is feudal Japan. Women don't have freedom. Cue the feminist parade! So Mariko disguises herself as a boy in order to successfully attempt her plan.We should probably be thinking oh Mariko is so smart. She is taking care of herself. Now she did have a couple badass moments, but these were so far and few between. We kept being told how smart she is. And I mean consistently by not only Mariko but her brother Kenshin as well. I still feel we never saw this.Kenshin desperately wants to find his sister and rescue her. He's an excellent samurai and tracker. He actually is a badass. The love he has for his sister runs deep, but he's also a ruthless individual who will do whatever it takes. I really enjoyed his complexity. Plus that sheer determination to find his sister. Would your brother do that for you? Mine for sure would not.I really loved a lot of the characters actually. Okami, Amaya, Yoshi. I guess it doesn't do you any good if I just list random character names. But trust me, they are wonderful. My least favorite was Mariko even though her journey is still engrossing. I am curious how the romance is going to develop. It just peaked it's head. It feels like a lot of this book was setting things up for the future. There is political intrigue that seems like it'll be of larger importance later in the series. The complex dynamic of the royal court was certainly interesting.I loved the use of Japanese mythology and history throughout. I cannot speak on how accurate these are because I am not quite as familiar with the culture or history. But it is all very fascinating and it added to the excellent world building. There are several unfamiliar Japanese terms used throughout. I really enjoyed them, though it would be helpful to know you can refer to the glossary at the back of the book. I used google for a while before I realized.I could have used a bit of explanation on the magic system. There didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. It felt very random. All this aside, I actually thoroughly enjoyed the book. The writing was exquisite with incredible world building. I loved the feminist theme throughout! The characters were wonderful. The sequel has the potential to be even better.
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  • may ❀
    January 1, 1970
    It seems I hold the unpopular opinion in regards to this book. While all my friends complain, I’m sitting here like ??? it was epic, where were you???#1 First off, the fact that Renee wrote this book is an instant 10 point. She absolutely slayed me with The Wrath and the Dawn ((I love Khalid sm, my sweet child)) and while there are many parallels that can be linked between the two books, I found this one to have such a passionate charm. #2 The writing is absolutely magnificent. It’s colourful a It seems I hold the unpopular opinion in regards to this book. While all my friends complain, I’m sitting here like ??? it was epic, where were you???#1 First off, the fact that Renee wrote this book is an instant 10 point. She absolutely slayed me with The Wrath and the Dawn ((I love Khalid sm, my sweet child)) and while there are many parallels that can be linked between the two books, I found this one to have such a passionate charm. #2 The writing is absolutely magnificent. It’s colourful and exquisite and contains Japanese idioms that just really make it feel so so so so well developed. At first, I will admit, I found it hard to remember each and every character, since there were a lot introduced initially, but I got the hang of it and then I was burning through the book without a second thought.#3 CAN WE PLEASE STOP CALLING OUT MARIKO, I LOVE HER OKAY. #4 (view spoiler)[Okami (hide spoiler)] is the love of my life. Okay, okay, I know the whole romance build up was kind of sudden but who the hell cares, its beautiful and intense and heated and just I loved it so much#5 I love how the story was build and developed over a long arc of time. We really got to see the character’s in their day-to-day lives #6 Kenshin was one of my favs in the beginning but then he was pissing me off left and right but then Amaya was introduced and I was like FRICKEN HELL I MUST. SHIP. #7 Lots of plot twists that had me like BOI EXPLAIN THIS IM GOING CRAZY WITH MY THEORIES #8 I thought the book was super bada*s and I loved the whole warrior thing and it was just awesome man. #9 I need book 2 right now please, Renee please its my last wish. #10 THE JAPANESE CULTURE IM SO ENCHANTED “Be as swift as the wind. As silent as the forest. As fierce as the fire. As unshakable as the mountain. And you can do anything...” 4 stars!!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~i'm so fricken stoked for this book, honestly, if it disappoints i will end 2017 ((also i know NOTHING about mulan PUT YOUR PITCHFORKS DOWN im going to go research the hell out of it rn)) Buddy read with the squad, Jia & Charlotte & Aaron & fake buddy reading with Prag & Amy
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  • Nenia ✨ Queen of Literary Trash, Protector of Out-of-Print Gems, Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Mother of Smut, the Unrepentant, Breaker of Convention ✨ Campbell
    January 1, 1970
    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || PinterestDid the people who read this book read a different book than the one I read? Because I did not get a romantic, action-packed adventure. I got a slow and plodding story with wooden characters and writing that was rife with purple prose. It wasn't even the fact that I went in with high expectations; despite the fact that Mulan is one of my favorite movies, I really did not like this author's other book, THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, and that was ba Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || PinterestDid the people who read this book read a different book than the one I read? Because I did not get a romantic, action-packed adventure. I got a slow and plodding story with wooden characters and writing that was rife with purple prose. It wasn't even the fact that I went in with high expectations; despite the fact that Mulan is one of my favorite movies, I really did not like this author's other book, THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, and that was based off one of my favorite faerie tales. So I went in with extremely low expectations and somehow, FLAME IN THE MIST managed to be worse than TWatD. How does that happen?Also, let's talk about the Mulan thing. I noticed people were saying that this book was a retelling of Mulan, and I wasn't sure if it was the publisher saying that or other reviewers saying that (because reviewers say a lot of things that publishers aren't and shouldn't be held responsible for), but when I went to the Penguin website, they appear to be blurbing the book as "Mulan meets Throne of Glass" and the author herself appears to be citing her love of the movie as an influence in writing this book in this Bustle interview. That made me give this book the side-eye, because Mulan is a legend from China and this is a book about Japan. China and Japan have totally different cultural legacies and at several points throughout history they have clashed in very unpleasant ways. It felt extraordinarily insensitive to me to brand a Chinese legend in new, Japanese packaging. To give a Western example, it would be like taking the struggles of the Scottish and rebranding them as English. "Be as swift as the wind. As silent as the forest. As fierce as the fire. As unshakable as the mountain" (244).I really don't like it when I feel like I'm being pandered to. Especially when it feels culturally insensitive. I'm sure that wasn't the author's intention, but I think that sometimes people forget that Disney stories are often based off actual folklore from actual people.FLAME IN THE MIST is about a girl named Mariko who is the daughter of a samurai. She's on her way to be married to her betrothed, but her litter and attendants are slaughtered before she can reach her destination, and Mariko herself is saved only by sheer luck. She ends up lost and wondering, and after escaping a would-be rapist, decides to disguise herself as a boy. Lucky for her (again), because Mariko ends up in the camp of the very men who she believes were trying to kill her, a group of bandits called the Black Clan. She decides that she's going to gain their trust and learn their weaknesses so she can kill them in revenge, but this being a YA novel, she falls for the ringleader.Mariko is no Mulan. She's one of those "strong" female characters who prove their "strength" by whining about how much it sucks to be a girl. She is constantly shooting off her mouth, even when she shouldn't (especially when she shouldn't), and of course her would-be enemies think this is so hilarious and endearing and are won over instead of gagging her and/or throwing her off a bridge. Also, the plot is very similar to WRATH OF THE DAWN in the sense that Mariko, like Sharzad, has a lot of reason to hate the leader, but never does, at least not without conviction, and gives into her lust way too quickly. Her emotions do not feel real - it's like she has an internal switch that flips whenever it's convenient for the plot, and also, what is going on with the plot of this story? It was so slow. I skimmed, and it still felt way too long. The writing does not help. Ahdieh makes an effort to write poetically, but instead it just feels blocky and convoluted and weird.But the egg - that simple egg - was so wonderful. So perfect.How could anyone who would take such care to prepare a simple egg truly be bad? (106)Also, negative points for that line. Because apparently people can't be bad if they can cook eggs. 1 star
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