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.
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure
Publisher: Published May 16th 2017 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Format: Bought, Hardcover
Rating: 4/5 stars
Alright!! This book was actually quite nice! I was a bit worried going into it as some reviewers said it took them a while to finish, but I found it to be a relatively quick read!
And so, in true Mulan-inspired fashion, Let’s get down to business!
(That song has been stuck in my head ever since finishing the book, send help)
As you might have read in other reviews, the first part of this book was hard to get into. It took me nine days to finish this book (which is good for me!), but five of them were spent getting past the first 60-ish pages. I think this was because the first few chapters are all told from different points of view. This broke up the story’s flow, making it difficult to pay attention for long periods of time. It was kind of like watching a movie, and right when you got to the climax of the action, the scene changes for twenty minutes.
BUT, after the book jumps around a bit, it settles down to just one POV for more chapters at a time.
And then this is what happened around the time the story picked up:
Me @ myself: i’m going to read for thirty minutes and then go to sleep!
Me, thirty minutes later: Oh, wait. This is actually getting really good. Just a few more minutes won’t hurt!
Me, @ 2:00am: All this reading is making me hungry. Goldfish crackers sound like a good idea.
Me, eating Goldfish crackers @ 2:00am: I wonder if Mariko would like Goldfish crackers too?
Me, waking up the next day:
It has been so so so long since I’ve stayed up late reading a book! I think the last time that happened was with The Young Elites like two years ago? It was definitely a relief to find a book that was so fun and interesting to read!
Now, while the book is incredibly engaging, the plot did feel a little scattered. I’m not entirely clear on what happened for some parts of the book (probably because I was up reading at 2:00am), and I feel as though a lot of things were left unresolved.
That being said, there is a sequel of which I am definitely excited about! Hopefully things will reveal themselves better then.
I did appreciate the setting of this story. The way the author describes Feudal Japan was almost like being there yourself, and the mood was generally mysterious and foreboding—like it was shrouded in mist!
I was actually surprised how many Mulan movie references were in this book. I was reading it with the impression that it was only based on the storyline of Mulan, but I caught a few scenes from the movie! The author does it in such a way, though, that it’s never completely obvious!
Mariko: THIS GIRL!!! Let me tell you whAT!! I loved the strength in this character! She was so brave and yet, at the same time, she was vulnerable. Sometimes, however, I did kind of get the, I’m not like most girls, vibe which made me cringe a bit, but I really don’t think the author intended this. Overall, I lived for her feminist rants and will to always be brave.
Okami: Hoo-hoo-hOO! Okami is one of the warriors of the Black Clan. I’ll admit, at first I wasn’t sure about this guy (or any of the Black Clan members) because he was super broody in the first few scenes. I was kind of expecting him to be that typical YA love interest, but he wasn’t! He was actually a great character with lots of depth and wisdom. I was surprised to find that I didn’t really feel much for his romance with Mariko. I felt it was kind of underdeveloped, but, then again, also thought the way he treated Mariko was really spot on (good job, author!) because there was no overprotectiveness/overbearing presence! Plus, I mean…
(My childhood crush of Shang from the movie Mulan may have resurfaced whilst reading this book… oops)
Kenshin: It took me a bit to get into Kenshin’s character. He’s the twin brother of Mariko and the other main POV. After Mariko gets ambushed in the forest, he goes and searches for her (he’s a famous Samurai, by the way). I ended up really liking him, but there were a few moments when I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on with him. He has very good intentions, and a good heart, but I also think he’s got a lot of emotional baggage. I hope we get to learn more about him in the next book!
Let me know your thoughts on Flame in the Mist down below!
Thank you for reading!