Flame In The Mist by Renee Ahdieh


The book featured in the May ‘Warriors and Legends’ box from Fairy Loot was Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh. I am familiar with her previous books The Wrath and the Dawn and The Rose and the Dagger and whilst I haven’t read them I have heard a lot of good things about them. And when I heard about Flame in the Mist I was intrigued by the premise and was excited to read it!

‘Be as swift as the wind. As silent as the forest. As fierce as the fire. As unshakeable as the mountain.’

When I first discovered this book I had heard it described as a retelling of Mulan (which I was excited about as I loved the Disney film!) And whilst the events of Flame in the Mist take place in Japan as opposed to China there were a few similarities so I would say Mulan can be considered as an inspiration for this new story. In it we meet Mariko, a seventeen year old who is destined to become a wife. Mariko is a highly skilled young woman and the daughter of a samurai, but despite her accomplishments she reluctantly accepts that her fate is one of marriage, which is considered to be her sole purpose. But it is on her journey to the imperial palace to meet her future husband that her life takes a new path. Her convoy is ambushed by a fearsome group of bandits known as the Black Clan, who seem intent on taking her life. Enraged by events and left questioning who would want to kill her, and why, Mariko sets out to find the truth…

‘Given the right time and the right circumstance, any man or woman can be water or fire or earth or wind,’

From this we see that Mariko decides to disguise herself as a peasant boy in order to evade capture and infiltrate the enemy camp. Given her skill and ingenuity, she begins to blend in well within the group, and becomes close to the enemy – perhaps a little too close. The closer she gets, the more dark secrets there are to uncover as she tries to conceal her identity from the Clan. I got more and more into this story as it went along and was intrigued by Mariko who was one of many complex and fascinating characters. These include Mariko’s brother Kenshin, himself a samurai known as the ‘The Dragon of Kai’ who as we see throughout is desperate to find his sister alive. Then there are the members of the Black Clan including Okami who plays a big role in Mariko becoming part of the Clan. I liked the writing style and found it portrayed the setting very well. There was a poetic, lyrical feel to the writing and great attention to detail. It was very descriptive both in terms of its depiction of the landscape and also aspects of Japanese culture and cuisine, clothing and weaponry. This certainly helped to create a sense of time and place and it is clear a lot of time and effort has gone into the research which adds to its authenticity. In terms of plot I found it to be an interesting story with plenty of action along the way, with my interest in particular being piqued in the latter half of the book. And as the secrets begin to emerge and unravel events build up to an intriguing conclusion that have left me keen to read the next book in the series!

I enjoyed reading Flame in the Mist due to its intriguing plot and fascinating characters. It is a story that weaves together Japanese mythology, action and romance and even a bit of magic. I am interested to find out what is in store for these characters next…

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