Title: Flame in the Mist
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Format/Pages: Hardback, 392
Release Date: May 16th, 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
~ Goodreads Synopsis ~
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.
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I am in love with this book! At first I was a little confused while reading this book because it is heavy with Asian terminology, but then I found the glossary in the back. I breezed through the book after that. I loved learning about Asian warriors and it was such a fun take on Mulan.
The plot itself is intriguing, I love the girl dresses like boy and fools them all trope, and she takes it upon herself to find who targeted her and her convoy in the woods. It all just flows so smoothly and we learn so much about the world and what it means to be a warrior. The writing is absolutely gorgeous – of course it is, it was written by Renee Ahdieh. I instantly wanted more after reading FitM, and I cannot wait for the release of the second book, Smoke in the Sun, in June of this year.
Mariko is such a great main character; she is a role model in every sense. She is greatly known for her curiosity and her need to constantly learn new things, despite the standards for a noble woman. Therefore, she is insanely smart and resourceful, and she is willing take any task head-on. As she disguises herself to learn who tried to murder her and to survive the Juaki forest she was left in, she quickly comes into herself and learns how to handle her situation.
With Mariko comes a whole lot of great feminism. This is the amazing feminist YA fantasy book I have been waiting for, and it is so inspiring. Here are a couple great quotes:
“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.”
“The only power any man has over you is the power you give him.”
“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. We can bend the wind to our ear if we would only try.”
If those don’t convince you to read this book, I don’t know what will. I love the repeated theme of being as strong as you let yourself be, that you are in charge of your own person whether you’re a man or a woman. The women of this book aren’t fighting to change how the world treats them, they are learning to be brave in spite of how the world sees them and it changes the perception of women in a much more impactful way.
Next… the romance… I have to. The couple that emerges in this book fills my heart with so much happiness. If you won’t read it for the feminism alone, read it for this star-crossed, all-consuming relationship that strengthens these two characters beyond all measures. This couple definitely made my list of top favorite couples.
In all, this book was amazing and you really need to read it for yourself because it is such a unique and driving experience. You see pure selflessness, pure love, and pure strength of heart. It is an incredibly tale that, I think, is a modern classic to be completely honest.
Let me know what you thought of Flame in the Mist, or if you plan to read it!
Thanks for reading!