Before starting this book, I was mainly familiar with Ahdieh's work from her previous duology, which I enjoyed, but didn't necessarily love. This book is different from that one, but I think I have a similar reaction.

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh

The story follows Mariko, the daughter of a samurai who is on her way to meet her arranged betrothed when her group is attacked. As the sole survivor, she vows to find those who were sent to kill her, the Black Clan. Mariko has always despised being treated like an object just because she was born a woman so she decides to seek out her attackers dressed as a man. Soon, she begins to experience a world she has never been allowed to be a part of, where she can learn to fight, and not be denied opportunities because of who she is.

I really loved the samurai and Japanese elements of the book. I can't speak to the accuracy of Ahdieh's portrayals but I will say that the story that she wove with these aspects was really well done. I don't think I've really read any books quite like this or based on this sort of historical context, so I really enjoyed it.

I liked Mariko's character - she was strong in a way where she is still able to recognize her faults. I'm all for a strong, independent female lead but sometimes I feel like they can become a bit too invincible and Ahdieh definitely kept things in check.

The fact that the romance wasn't absolutely central to this book was a big plus for me. It was still there, towards the end, and not in the foreground as much as the main storyline was, which I really appreciated. This just goes to show that we don't need the romance to carry the novel, especially one as action-packed and interesting as this one. Don't get me wrong, though, once Ahdieh introduced us to the romance, I was 110% on board! I loved the chemistry between the characters and the extra-slow burn.

I've heard some people say that this is basically a Mulan retelling and since I have yet to watch the movie (I know, I know), I can't really say too much about the validity of that statement. I mean, she dresses like a man and cuts her hair, so I suppose there are some similarities? But for an actual plot comparison, you'll have to check out some other opinions.

There were some things I wasn't in love with, some of the time I had a hard time keeping the members of the Black Clan straight, mainly just because there were so many. I also felt like some of the action jumped around a bit too much, it was especially tricky when the multiple POVs started to overlap with events. I wasn't crazy about the third-person perspective, but I think Ahdieh managed pretty well pulling it off.

Overall, despite its flaws, I enjoyed this book and will probably pick up the next one.