My rating: 2 of 5 stars
“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.”
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.
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.”
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.
⁃ Annoyingly cocky
⁃ A dum dum
⁃ Creator of one too many unnecessary mess
⁃ Doesn’t clean up her mess
⁃ Very exhausting to be in her head
⁃ Annoyingly stubborn
⁃ Hates being a girl
⁃ Hates being a boy
⁃ Annoyingly unsatisfied with her life
Pg 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 confused
Black Clan Members:
⁃ They didn’t annoy me
⁃ But they warmed up to Mariko?? so
SCREW YOU GUYS.
⁃ I don’t know any of their names
⁃ I don’t care for them
⁃ What’s with their random appearances?
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.”
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 🙂
What did you think of this book? Did it meet your expectations? If you have yet to read it, is it one of your anticipated releases of the year? 🙂
Thank you all for checking out this post and I hope you all have a lovely day and a very happy reading! ❤