From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn, comes a sweeping, action-packed YA adventure set against the backdrop of Feudal Japan where Mulan meets Throne of Glass. The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place–she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort–a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace. Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and track 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.
This was another kind of it, kind of miss for me. I did really love most of it, but the romance seemed a bit robotic for me. Overall, I did enjoy it, but there was some room in there for error.
Firstly, the use of Japanese culture and history was truly fascinating. It was very original and very captivating. I’ve always enjoyed reading up on Japanese culture, so I already knew a bit of what was being used in the plot. However, it was written in a way that made it very readable, regardless of if you were interested in the history of Japan, or not. It was a wonderful fantasy read, and the use of the Japanese culture just made it seem more real, and gave it more layers.
The issues I had with this plot were all surrounding the romance. The dynamic between tot he two characters was epic. Like, I really loved both of their characters and their arcs were fascinating. The romance is what was weird. Although Mariko has a constant monologue on the importance of others’ minds over their bodies, she very quickly threw herself at her interest, with the veil of it being love. It was interesting, because she had little to no interest in him, until their was physical contact between them. It seemed mildly robotic. I really loved their dynamic. The connection between the two just seemed a bit fabricated, as there was little interaction before they professed love.
I really loved Mariko’s girl power message, especially when she took her story into her own hands. I thought her monologue on the her arranged marriage. Many times stories include heroines who succumb themselves to an arranged marriage. Mariko, on the other hand, tok things into her own hands, and reminded everyone that no one could own her, or her body. This made her interactions with her “captors” (avoiding spoilers) even more interesting, as they were amongst the few who valued her as a person.
Be warned, although most of the book is PG, there is some contact of a physical nature mentioned. Although nothing graphic is described, it is very suggestive. So, be aware of that for younger readers.
I give Flame in the Mist 3 out of 5.