For me, Flame in the Mist is the epitome of YA fantasy. It has all the elements that I look for in a book, and it executes on each of those elements so exquisitely. Getting to read an ARC copy of this book was truly an honor.
Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh
The richness of this Cherry Blossom Pinot Noir pairs perfectly with Ahdieh’s vivid writing and the lush world she’s created in Flame in the Mist. The lavish, juicy flavor is also the perfect match for the gorgeous romance scenes that Ahdieh has masterfully threaded throughout the story.
*All wine recommendations are strictly for those of legal drinking age only.*
- Title: Flame in the Mist
- Author: Renée Ahdieh
- Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
- Pages: 368
- Pub Date: May 16, 2017
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 ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she’s quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she’s ever known.
Thank you Penguin Teen for granting me an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
The first thing I have to say is just WOW! This is one of those book reviews that is difficult to write, because finding the words to adequately describe a book that is this well-written, beautifully-developed, and perfectly executed is a near impossible task.
I loved everything about this story from the world-building, to the characters, to the magic, to the incredibly swoony romance. This book is everything I hoped it would be and so much more.
The various settings in Flame in the Mist are told with such vivid detail, I felt like I was there inside the story. The details of the forest particularly captured my attention. It is haunting, captivating, and a lovely all at the same time. There is also a bit of magic to the forest that made me fall in love with it, in spite of (or maybe because of) its darkness and secrets.
There are so many incredible characters in this book, and Ahdieh expertly handled the switching of POVs, and Mariko was an ideal protagonist for me. She is a strong female character, and by “strong” I mean that she is strong in spirit, mind, and heart. She is intelligent. Getting to watch her think through situations and finding effective solutions to those situations was fascinating. She has a wonderful character arc, and I adored her for her love and loyalty to both her friends and family in spite of the fact that they weren’t all on the same side of the major conflict that runs throughout this book. Mariko is passionate, caring, smart, and everything that I look for in a main character.
There is an incredible cast of characters surrounding Mariko, who I also fell in love with. They all have hidden depths and motivations and getting to see more and more of each their characters unfolding as the story progressed was just so much fun.
I love books that include secret societies in their stories, and the Black Clan is a secret society that is captivating on so many levels. I can’t say anything more about them without including spoilers, but I am certainly excited for this book to be out in the world so I can discuss them ad nauseum with my fellow voracious readers.
From reading the description of this book, I expected to enjoy the plot, the characters, and the world. I did not see expect for there to be such an incredible and intense romance though, and that unexpected element of this story in combination with everything else that I loved about it, is what propelled Flame in the Mist from being a great book to being the best book I’ve read so far this year.
There are some books coming out this year that sound like they are just going to knock our socks off, but it will be amazing difficult for any of them to top Flame in the Mist for being the best YA fantasy novel this year.
This book is a masterpiece in storytelling. I cannot think of a single way in which it could be improved, or that would have made me enjoy it more. This is pure perfection on a page, and I will be enjoying every second of anticipating the next book’s release.
This is also the best YA book cover I have seen this year, and that is saying something. YA books have their cover game on point, and this cover is certainly going to push cover artists to continue stepping up their game. Everything about this cover is perfect. The color scheme is gorgeous. The cherry blossoms that transform into throwing stars are symbolic and important to the story. And this cover also just has this underlying magical vibe to it that so perfectly mimics the tone of the novel itself.
Oh my sweet, beautiful, and unexpected romance! I will not say who Mariko’s love interest is, because spoilers, but I will say that their chemistry is off the charts! I haven’t felt so swept away by a romance in a book since ACOMAF last year. This book has all of that heat, but without all the graphic details. For the record, I’m not bagging on those graphic details. I love ACOMAF, but sometimes I do prefer for those details to be left off the page, and for the author to focus more on the emotion going into the scene than on the physical action itself.
Have you gotten to read this gorgeous, GORGEOUS novel yet? Will you be reading it when it comes out next month? Are you a fan of Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn series?