The Wrath and the Dawn author Renee Ahdieh gives us an engaging perspective of feudal Japan in FLAME IN THE MIST.
***Flame in the Mist (Advance Reader’s Copy) was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.***
The story centers around Mariko, a young lady from a prominent Japanese samurai family, who has been promised to young man from another prominent Japanese samurai family. But on her way there, her traveling party is ambushed by dangerous gang of fighters known as the Black Clan. She survives and sets off to find out why her party was ambushed.
In Mulan-like fashion, she passes herself off as a boy and infiltrates the Black Clan to seek answers and enact revenge. But it’s not as easy as she thought and the longer she stays with the Clan, the more she feels at home with them. Plus, she may just find herself falling in love with one of them.
Having read Renee Ahdieh’s previous series, The Wrath and the Dawn and The Rose and the Dagger, I felt that I knew what to expect coming into this story. I was familiar with Ahdieh’s style of writing, after all. But I have to admit, this story was very different from her first duology.
Yes, they both have female protagonists and both have a certain romantic interest. But the way the story flowed as compared to Wrath was not the same. Because of this, I had certain expectations that I didn’t realize I had until several days after finishing the book. Essentially, this book played out more like a mystery/fantasy than it did an action/fantasy.
It book starts off with a prologue that draws you in, and then when it gets to its current time, it becomes a gradual build, holding off answers for much of the book until nearer to the end. For some, that might be challenging, especially if you’re expecting it to be constantly action-packed. This is not actually a bad thing, though. You learn very much about Mariko during this process and the changes in what she thinks about the seemingly treacherous Black Clan. You learn about specific characters of the Clan and the families involved. Ahdieh makes it a point to give these people identities, detailing their personalities, their strengths, and their flaws.
For someone like myself, the buildup can be frustrating, especially if there’s no answers to all the questions that the author has created. Eventually, some questions and mysteries are answered, and some answers come without you having questioned it. It’s that which makes the story stand out.
Renee Ahdieh took care in the words she used I was pleasantly surprised how, as I read a certain food scene, my mouth seemed to water (of course, I love all kinds of food.) And I was very pleased and awed at how easily I was able to visualize certain scenes in her descriptions.
But as I said, it’s probably not as action-packed as you’d think it would be. It has several moments, though, but this book is definitely nothing like her first series. Mariko is very much her own character, as Shahrzad is in The Wrath and the Dawn.
Flame in the Mist has a more gradual pace, which can be frustrating, but there are great characters, and maybe one or two eye-opening twists in there. It’s just a matter of being patient for it.
Grade Rating: B-