Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh // (Another) Unpopular Opinion Alert

31393403Flame in the Mist

by Renee Ahdieh

Kindle edition, 416 pages

Published May 16th, 2017 by Putnam Juvenile


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.


On Shazi Mariko’s way to meet her betrothed, her convoy was attacked, and everyone died except her. She believed the one responsible for attacking her was the Black Clan, so she decided to infiltrate the clan to gain the trust of Jalal Ranmaru and Khalid Okami. Meanwhile, her brother Tariq Kenshin is hellbent on finding her.

From my summary above, you might have guessed my biggest problem with this book: it is too similar. While The Wrath and The Dawn was my favorite book last year, it doesn’t mean that I like reading about it all over again in a different book. This issue distracts me from immersing myself fully in the story and to connect with the characters.

Now we get that aside, let’s move to the positives. As always, Ahdieh’s writing is beautiful. It’s not as poetic as in her previous books, but it still painted a lush and vivid imagery of the story.

Mariko is quieter and more reserved than Shazi, but that doesn’t mean she’s less kick-ass. She thought about everything thoroughly before speaking or acting, instead of letting her temper get the best of everything. She’s also willing to learn and more open to new perspective, and this is why I find I like her more than Shazi.

Other than Mariko, I can’t say about other characters. I feel nothing for them except interest. I’d love to know more about Kenshin, Okami, Ranmaru, Raiden, and the Black Clan themselves. I’d like to know more about the politics and the people in it. And obviously, I’d love to know more about the magic in this book. I really wish the author will fleshed it out in next book instead of giving it no resolve (like the curse thingy in TWATD).

As for the plot, I find it evenly paced. It’s not too fast or too slow, giving me enough time to immerse myself in the story yet enough action to keep me interested. While some twist took longer to me to guess, in the end, I can see all of them before they were actually revealed. I find the story itself is more of 47 Ronin than Mulan, because other than the cross-dressing aspect, there’s nothing in this story that follows Mulan. 47 Ronin, on the other hand, seems to be the main inspiration. Also, the whole “a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder…” mentioned in the summary is kind of not true at all, since everything was pretty much explained at the beginning.

So that’s how I feel about this book. While it has a really good story, writing, and characters, it felt too similar to Ahdieh’s previous books which distract me from truly enjoying the story. I will still read the next book though since there are a lot of things need to be explained and I’m curious about them.



17 Replies to “Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh // (Another) Unpopular Opinion Alert”

  1. Oh no! I’m sorry that this one felt too similar to the author’s previous work for you to fall fully in love with it.

    I have heard so many mixed things about this book that I am really interested to read it and see what I think. In terms of being a Mulan retelling I am not seeing much of that, either. Perhaps it will come into play more in the next book/s? I would really love to read an ownvoices Mulan retelling, actually!

    I hope you enjoy the second book a bit more, Tasya! Maybe the world building will pick up 🙂


  2. Aww… I’m sorry to see this was so disappointing. 😦 I can definitely see where you’re coming from though. Nonetheless, thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! ❤


  3. I was also underwhelmed by this book, which is a disappointment given how much I loved her last series (or the romance in it, anyway). I also felt that her world building for ‘fantasy Japan’ edged onto cultural appropriation, because literally everything that was ‘cool’ and consumable about Japanese culture e.g. samurai, ninjas, geisha, ronin etc… made an appearance in the novel. I’m not sure if I will continue reading the series.


    1. Hmm I didn’t notice that… It’s not my place to say since I’m not Japanese so I don’t know how the real Japan is, but it seems real to me because the food, clothing, and buildings felt pretty solid to me… I’ll keep my eyes out for the next book though, maybe if I’m more aware I could catch it too 🙂


  4. Nice review! I haven’t read The Wrath and the Dawn yet, though I do own a copy of it. I was approved for an ARC of Flame in the Mist a few weeks AFTER it released, for some reason? Lol anyways, I’ve been a little apprehensive because I’ve heard such mixed reviews, but your review made me feel a little more optimistic, since I won’t have any other books of hers to compare it to. 🙂


  5. I wasn’t particularly into The Wrath and the Dawn, but I was curious about this one. But from the sounds of it, this isn’t going to work for me either. I’m sorry you found it too similar to The Wrath though. That’s such a bummer since you liked The Wrath,


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