Series: Flame in the Mist #1
Genre: High Fantasy, Young Adult
Published by GP Putnam's Sons (5.16.2017)
Hardcover, 393 pages
Source: I own it
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.
The first chapter of this book hooked me! I knew as soon as I finished it that I would love the book. My attention waned a lot in the middle with the Black Clan’s camp, though. It started to feel kind of generic fantasy and I started losing interest. Thankfully it didn’t last long. Once certain things started happening, it grabbed me again and didn’t let go! And what an explosive ending!!
LOVE LOVE LOVE the Japanese culture in this book!! Definitely the selling point of this novel. It was like Mulan meets 47 Ronin (which I’m pretty sure is exactly what it was pitched as – for once, they were right!) and I loved both of those! This book had some very strong Mulan feels and it was just perfection. What a beautifully written book, too. Renee has gorgeous prose – so quotable!
OKAMI I LOVE HIM. He intrigued me from the start! I wanted more of him! View Spoiler »It’s crazy that he was actually the real Takeda Ranmaru, not the leader of the Black Clan! So didn’t see that one coming! « Hide Spoiler This book definitely proved that appearances aren’t always what they seem. Sooo many things I didn’t see coming! I love a book that can surprise me. Wowza!
Mariko was such a fabulous protag. She was petulant at times, but strong willed and true to herself. I loved the interactions between her and Okami! I love that they slowly came to care for one another and the banter they shared. View Spoiler »The scene where he found out she was a woman – OH LAWD *fans self* I don’t know why but it was incredibly sexy haha! « Hide Spoiler
THAT ENDING! Renee knows how to write an achingly beautiful and heartbreaking ending. I neeeed the next book asap!
She remembered Chiyo telling her that finding one’s match was like finding one’s other half. Mariko had never understood the notion.
She was not half. She was wholly her own.
“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.”
Love was a sunrise. A welter of crimson that rose much like a warning. Slowly and almost in secret.
“My heart knows your heart. A heart doesn’t care about good or bad, right or wrong. A heart is always true.”
Writing style: 4.5/5
Overall rating: 4.5/5