My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

ARC Review: Flame In The Mist by Renee Ahdieh

Please Note: I received an advanced reader's copy of this book from Penguin Random House's  "First In Line" program.  This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
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.

I was very excited to receive this book in the mail from Penguin Random House's "First In Line" program, as I lived in Japan in the early 1990's and love reading about feudal times.  I was not disappointed.  Flame In The Mist, by Renee Ahdieh, offers an action-packed view of feudal Japan.  It has lots of mystery, danger, and a fantasy element that add up to a book you won't want to put down.

What I Liked:
I loved Mariko.  While the author did use a tried and true trope of the girl who doesn't fit in finding her place, I felt this was done in a fresh way.  Mariko is not perfect.  She needs to learn how to deal with people so that she can convey that they are as important (smart, strong, etc.) as she is.  Otherwise she comes off as a know it all.  Gender didn't play into that.  She also learns to embrace fear and use it to make her strong.

Mariko is on her way to her arranged marriage to a son of the Emperor, when her convoy is attacked.  It becomes clear that this is no simple random robbery.  Mariko is a target of assassination.  But why?  Who is behind this?  There are many twists and turns to this part of the story (and some of it is NOT solved by the books end).  I was properly mislead (in the best way) as to who I thought was trying to kill Mariko.  I loved the misdirection.

Mariko decides to dress as a boy and become a member of the Black Clan in order to figure out who hired them to kill her.  There is a constant threat of discovery that had me on the edge of my seat.  Not only would Mariko face being killed by the notorious thieves, she would also face being cast out of her family, if discovered.  She is really in an impossible situation.  I love that she decides to take fate into her own hands and find out the truth.

As someone who lived in Japan, I can attest to how the Japanese people revere the outdoors and attribute an almost a mystical quality to nature.  Although the fantasy element is used sparingly, the small touches the author uses to convey menace, and protection, make the forest seem like a living character in this book.

What I Was Mixed About:
I was on the fence about the romance in the book.  I could see it coming and thought, "Oh, here it comes".  But once it arrived I was relieved by how unsentimental the relationship was (I know I am being vague here, but I don't want to give too much away).  But I think the book would have been just as strong without a romance for Mariko.  Her brother's relationship with Ayama had enough angst and tragedy to sustain the entire book!

What I Didn't Like:
The Ending:

I was a bit frustrated by the ending.  I know by now that every YA book needs to have at least two sequels, but I like at least a few plot points to be wrapped up by the end of a book.  Very little was resolved.  As a reader, I hate having to wait a year to find out what happens.  And, of course, I will need to re-read this book in order to remember everything that happened!




Release Date:  May 16th, 2017

Genre:  YA Historical Fiction/Fantasy

Source:  Random House "First In Line" program

Format:  ARC Paperback

Recommendation:  A solid first book in this series.  Full of danger, mystery, and action.  I just wish there had been more resolution at the end of the story.

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1 comment :

  1. I had an ARC of this one too, and I really loved it. I thought the romance for Mariko was maybe a little "meh", but other than that I was happy with it. The ending definitely left me curious about the next one, and wanting more. Great review!


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2019 Reading Challenge
MsArdychan has read 10 books toward her goal of 120 books.


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