Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
I’d like to thank First to Read and Renee Ahdieh for providing me with a free eARC in exchange for an honest review.
“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.”
Im just going to go straight off the bat and say that I ADORED this book.
It had a spectacular “fight the patriarchy” style and was very feminist whilst being set in a very anti-feminist era. The culture was all-encompassing and (as far as I am aware) had little appropriation. And girls dressing as guys in historical settings? One of my favorite plot devises! The main character actually had INTELLIGENCE that actually MEANS something in the story, as opposed to it just being a reason that the MC is just “not like other girls,” however, it also showed that she still had a lot to learn. The whole “anti-hero struggling with the concept of murder” idea was also very intriguing. The conversations seemed fresh and realistic, not to mention actually humorous sometimes. The author also did a spectacular job representing disability as just a characteristic, not the entire identity of a character. I enjoyed the complicated sibling-relationship dynamic and the policiacas side of the story, as well.
In a world of special-snowflake, Americanized YA heroines, Flame in the Mist stands leagues ahead of the pack. The ending has me begging for another installment, and I will most DEFINITELY be reading more of Ahdieh’s work in the future.
Would I recommend?
To anyone who enjoys YA fantasy or is looking for more diverse YA characters.