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.
This was another book that was one of my anticipated of 2017, mainly because I was fan of her other two books The Wrath and the Dawn, and The Rose & the Dagger.
The story is set in feudal Japan, and already Renee Ahdeih takes full advantage of the world it is set in. She makes a lot of referents to a lot of Japanese mythology and how the feudal system in Japan is presented. The Japanese setting really added a lot of weight to the story and made it a lot more interesting. She makes many references to Samurai’s, Geisha’s. family and honor.
The main story deals with Mariko, who one her way to see the man she is forced to marry, her caravan is attacked by what is seen to be The Black Clan, a group of bandits who live in the forest. In order to figure out what happens she disguises herself as a boy to infiltrate the Black Clan. This plot reminded me a lot of Mulan, just set in Japan. It really provided a lot of great character bits with Mariko trying to figure out her own gender roles.
Mariko was a great protagonist, within the story. Even after being almost assassinated she managed to handle herself rather well, especially since she lived a very sheltered life in the palace, she starts to learn how to take care of herself. I think she started to learn a lot of those too well, but it wasn’t really a problem for me. She realizes that if she goes back home she will just be another commodity and the reason why she looks into the mystery of her assassination herself is to become more independent.
I liked her relationship with Okami, the leader of the Black Clan. He basically trained her on the ways of the Black Clan. I like that it was developed over time and he learned to appreciate her as a male, before learning of Mariko’s secret. While I did feel that the romance was little forced it was well developed to have me at least care for both of them.
There is also Keshimi; Mariko’s brother who is tasked in finding Mariko. While a lot of his POV chapters were very brief, I was able to find his story arc very compelling and also looking into details about his relationship with Mariko. Also his chapters also provides a few key insights into the world from his perspective.
A problem that I had with the book is that I felt that the ending was very rushed, and I kinda wanted a little bit more, and also have the ending a bit more fleshed out. I know a sequel will be coming out so hopefully that will answer some unanswered questions.
In the end, Flame in the Mist was a very good book. It did a good job taking full advantage of it’s Japanese setting. It also had great, fleshed out characters that you want to root for.