Title: Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1)
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Date: May 16th 2017
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh is an historical fiction book with a little bit of fantasy, set in Japan and a retelling of Mulan.
The protagonist is Mariko Hattori, daughter of a daimyō and soon-to-be bride of the first son of the emperor. During her journey to the capital city, Inako, her convoy is attacked by a group of men known as the Black Clan. The only survivor of the attack is the protagonist, and to keep high the name of her family and take revenge, she decides to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan in order to discover their plans and why they wanted her dead.
One day, the victorious son would rise. And set fire to all his father’s enemies.
The story in itself could have been great, however, the execution wasn’t as good as the expectations. Don’t misinterpret my words. I mean that I think the whole plot lacked a basis. For example, the authoress doesn’t explain how magic functions in this world and why only a few people can use it.
The protagonist, Mariko, has always been different from the other girls, she doesn’t like being underestimated, she’s intelligent and she doesn’t want to be only a prize to be showed off and to lift her family’s social status.
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.
The major problem I found in this book is exactly the protagonist. At the beginning she seemed childish and weak, but then she didn’t hesitate to kill a drunk man who had tried to rape her after she had escaped the ambush. No remorse. It’s like she was another person at the moment. Then, I still don’t understand why she decided to dress up as a boy. The only thing I understood is that she didn’t want her family to be ashamed of her, not knowing what really happened in that forest and if she had lost her virginity.
Throughout the story, she kept saying how everyone found her odd or intelligent and that she likes honor, but she’s the one in the first places who used tricks. I can’t relate to her, I didn’t feel a connection. And this is a bad thing.
I loved Kenshin, Mariko’s brother, also known as the Dragon of Kai. He loves a person he can’t be with. Fate is cruel, especially if you love someone.
I believe the stars align so that souls can find one another. Whether they are meant to be souls in love or souls in life remains to be seen.
Instead, I couldn’t quite grasp the other characters: Ōkami, Ranmaru, Yoshi, Raiden. Their characters aren’t flat, but they’re not well-rounded either.
The author has such a way with words, than the story pulls you in. However, in the book Renée Ahdieh threw here and there Japanese words that I didn’t know. There’s a small vocabulary at the end of the book; but you can’t stop every ten minutes to go looking for a word. It would have been better if she described the object, so we could get an idea of the meaning of the word.
I give Flame in the Mist 2 out of 5 stars, hoping the next book will be better.
About the author
She lives in North Carolina (Go Heels!) with her husband Victor and their dog Mushu. In her spare time, she likes to cook, mess with makeup, and wreak havoc on the lives of her characters.