Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

Flame in the Mist

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, Mari...

Title:Flame in the Mist
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0399171630
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:393 pages

Flame in the Mist Reviews

  • Natalie (Never trust a duck)
    May 26, 2015

    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
    Aug 09, 2016

    •Although

    definitely did

    make it into my all-time favourites list, the idea of giving a try to

    , inspired by

    (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

    •Although

    definitely did

    make it into my all-time favourites list, the idea of giving a try to

    , inspired by

    (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

    . As I said in

    , 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:

    and

    . 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

    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.

    . This is how she would write—well, basically everything, according to the data I've picked up after reading all three of her books.

    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,

    . 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:

    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

    you have to consider. And this effect is profoundly frustrating.

    •My second complaint concerns the logic behind some of

    . 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

    hours is there going to help in saving her family's honour, that's beyond me. You see, the thing is,

    . She gave me never-ending headaches.

    Another instance of how her reasoning just doesn't stand up is, why does she never once

    . Odd.

    There are few things I hate more that when authors don't follow this rule. We are told-and told-and

    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,

    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

    .

    . Never mind the setting; I'm talking about more substantial elements. See if this rings a bell:

    . Yes. I know.

    I would have liked some

    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

    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

    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.

    . 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,

    .

    , 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.

    A book partly based on

    ...

    YES! YES!

    ...written by Renee Ahdied.

    YE-oh. Uhm, okay?

    Still totally gonna read it.

    is one of my absolute favorite animated movies. Can't wait.

  • Cait • A Page with a View
    Mar 28, 2017

    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).

    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).

    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 "

    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 "

    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 "

    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: "

    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 "

    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: "

    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:

    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:

    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!

    And 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,

    If I said that Cinder was a retelling of Cinderella, that doesn't imply that I think Chinese and French culture are interchangeable. I was never once merging Chinese and Japanese cultures in my mind by looking for how basic elements from Mulan's story might be placed in a

    So you could work to find the few similarities here if you enjoy seeing how elements from one plot can inspire little things in another, but I think "retelling" (or even "inspired by") is a bit of a stretch. In the end this really is its own wonderful story!

  • Emily May
    Aug 23, 2016

    *shivers*

    This book was just

    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.

    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

    *shivers*

    This book was just

    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.

    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

    and

    , even more

    and

    . 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

    . Which was fine by me. And the romance that did surface was...

    . 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.

    See what I mean? Problems.

    . 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:

    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.

    And would you really bring a potentially powerful weapon to a fight when you’d

    ? 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’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 ♥

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  • Sabaa Tahir
    Oct 17, 2016

    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.

  • Brittney ~ Her Bookish Things
    Apr 23, 2017

    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

    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...

    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.

    ~

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  • Marie Lu
    Apr 17, 2017

    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.

  • Lola  Reviewer
    May 10, 2017

    Like many others, I went into this—

    —novel thinking I’d be reading a retelling of Mulan, which suited me just fine.

    , 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—

    —novel thinking I’d be reading a retelling of Mulan, which suited me just fine.

    , 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

    . 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

    . She isn’t afraid to point out all that is wrong with the way men perceive women.

    There is romance, but

    . Mariko is serious about her plan to murder the leader of the clan. At the same time, she is human—

    I absolutely cannot wait to see where this is all going.

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