From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn, comes a sweeping, action-packed YA adventure set against the backdrop of Feudal Japan where Mulan meets Throne of Glass.
The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.
Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she’s quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she’s ever known.
My first encounter with Reneé Ahdieh’s books was with The Wrath and the Dawn, which is basically a re-telling of A Thousand and one Nights. As always I’m a little hesitant to pick up re-tellings of fairy tales. Because it can go both ways and I’m kind of fond of fairy tales. So I don’t want them spoiled. Since the Wrath and the Dawn was promising, I was wondering how Reneé Ahdieh has grown since that book in 2015. And did she grow now. From the first page of Flame in the Mist, I was drawn like a moth to the Flame. How tragic, how horrible and how sad. But you just have to read on to see what happens to the little boy and what happens to Mariko.
And the story just gets better and better. You are drawn in by Mariko’s determination to discover why the Black Clan wants to kill her. We can feel her despair, when she is trying to act like a boy and isn’t able to perform the most simple tasks. And you can relate to her confusion, when the Black Clan maybe isn’t what they appear to be. Reneé just keeps turning the story, with secrets, lies and betrayal.
I wanted to cry when Akira-San was found dead with his grandchildren, I wanted to laugh when Mariko is called Lord Lackbeard, I wanted to be proud when Mariko was clever enough to create the eggs of mist and I wanted to sigh when Okami finally discovers the truth about his suspicions on Sanada Takeo.
It was a rollercoaster ride of emotions and I loved the entire journey. So many lies and deceits, and still so wonderful and true to see people fight for what they believe. Reneé has really grown. And so, of course, five out of five stars from me. Highly recommended and awaiting the second part.
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Published: May 2017