Book: Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist 1) by Renee Ahdieh
Release Date: May 16th 2017
Tags: Young Adult / Fantasy / Romance
Rating: 2,5 out of 5 stars
Other books by this author I reviewed
The Wrath and the Dawn duology
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.
Flame in the Mist was a book I was very curious about. Renee Ahdieh has been highly praised for her The Wrath and the Dawn duology, and while I enjoyed that for the most part, I wasn’t entirely impressed by it either. Unfortunately this book was not able to impress me either. Far from it. I feel that in comparison to her previous duology this book tried too hard in the writing. Some of the flowery language was too much and as such missed its mark. There are also so many pages of inner monologues about almost every aspect of the plot that it became a bit boring. There is just so much talk in this book and very little action. And with that you have the plot. All talk, no show. There are just things where I could not truly get into the story because I just did not believe. Mariko being able to get into the clan dressed as a boy was too easy. For such a frightening clan they took to Mariko rather quickly (despite the revelation at the end). And quite honestly I don’t know what possessed her to pursue this in any case. She has no skills that could bring justice to the death of her father’s men and nursemaid. She had no plan at all. It is a miracle she wasn’t killed.
I did really like the world it was creating. The samurai, rounin, geisha and so on are all interesting and not ones we get to see a whole lot of. Especially their ways. This is also why I am so annoyed about all the talk and no show. I wanted to be shown their ways. Not told. The history that is being created around the emperor and his sons I also find interesting to a point. I wish we were able to dive more into that in this book.
The ending did pick up the pace with some action and even a few twists I hadn’t quite expected to see. But it was hard to appreciate those when I found it hard to care for our characters. There is potential there but there is a lot left open from this book.
And that is the case with our characters as well. There is so much potential but all the talking and the lack of showing just made me not be able to truly care for some of these characters. Sure you are noble. Show me. Oh you are smart. Show me. Which is a shame because I think especially some of the clan boys could be great vibrant characters and it showed in some dialogue.
The romance also came out of nowhere, especially from the male’s side. Oh look, I’ve been discovered as a girl. Let us smooch. And of course he could not resist that. Insert eye roll here. If this had been build up properly (preferably over a few books) than I could have quite honestly supported this ship. I can see them work. Though I wish their dialogue wasn’t so repetitive.