Flame in the Mist – review

Hello there 🌞 I hope you’re doing fine ! Welcome to one of my first review posts !

This past summer was not the best reading time for me, I haven’t read much and to be honest, Queen of Air and Darkness put me in a reading slump because of its length and also because I was fiercely disappointed ! After this one, it was hard for me to read and the books I read took me longer than usual to read.

When I decided to pick Flame in the Mist, it has been on my shelf for a year ! Yes, bookworm problems : buying books and stacking them on an already infinite TBR… But Flame in the Mist was always in my mind the whole time : it is a retelling of Mulan and on top of that, it is written by RenĂ©e Ahdieh, my firm favorite author.

My rating : 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 / 5

My opinion : First and foremost, let me tell you once again that RenĂ©e Ahdieh’s style is one of the most beautiful ever. She weaves a unique world with unique words and she does not fail to enthrall her readers. Her use of Japanese words helps a lot in doing so.

That being said, I can now give you an insight of this book.
Flame in the Mist is set in a feudal Japan with an emperor, samurais, katanas, warriors and thanks to our young heroine, Mariko, we realize how important family and honor are. She was born in a prominent family and as you doubt it, being a girl she does not really have her say about her own future : she is promised to a boy, from a good family and this marriage will allow her a higher social rank, making the Hattoris’s pride.
On her departing for Inako, the imperial city where her betrothed lives, her convoy is badly attacked : she sees her father’s men and her beloved “uba” (nursemaid) dying in front of her. Quickly, the smart Mariko understands that the legendary Black Clan is behind that. This gang is well-known to be hired murderers and nothing stops them, not even an imperial title.

There, her adventure begins : she cuts her hair and dresses up as a boy in order to infiltrate the gang. Step by step, “Lord Lackbeard” manages to be accepted and she comes to understand something of substance : alongside these bandits, she is herself, she is accepted for who she really is and for her personal skills.

To make it even more interesting, there is a romance. I was not disappointed at all to realize that I was wrong about the identity of the love interest ! This is quite a hate to love relationship and I am here for it.

As I said, family and honor are very important and Mariko’s brother, Kenshin, is the perfect illustration of the warrior, respecting carefully the Bushido, the code of honor of any self-respecting samurai. I love the way he was introduced to the story and most of all, I love the relationship he has with his sister. They complement one another : he is the arms and the strength (the soldier) and she is the brain (the wise one).

I have to say that I couldn’t help drawing parallels between Mariko and Shazi from The Wrath and the Dawn. These girls are so similar in their strength of characters, they are both determined to take their revenges, to accomplish their goals. Yes they are women, yes they are powerful and strong and I love that girl power.

The only thing that disturbed and confused me a little was the names : Raiden, Ren : they are quite identical to me but eventually, I came to distinguish who was who and recognized them.
Yet, I learnt alongside Mariko that things aren’t always what they seem…

Quotes I loved :

“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…”

“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.”

“Mariko wanted to splash him again. Wanted to best him in all ways. Wanted to kiss him silent.

Flame in the Mist is a duology and the sequel, Smoke in the Sun, disappointed me a lot… Unfortunetaly, I kept having troubles with the names of the male characters… The ending was, for me, too fast and too easy !

That’s it, I hope you’ll like this mini review and that I made you curious about this book, desite my disillusion with the second book!

What about you, have you read this duology ? Do you know Renée Ahdieh ?

Until next time, xx

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