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Flame in the Mist Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 16, 2017
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Praise for Flame in the Mist:
New York Times Bestseller
A Spring 2017 Amazon Pick – Spring’s Best Young Adult Fiction
A PW Best Summer Book of 2017
★ “[A]n elaborate fantasy set in feudal Japan . . . Ahdieh (The Wrath & the Dawn) is immensely skilled at crafting vibrant settings inhabited by sympathetic characters with rich pasts . . . readers will enthusiastically anticipate the next installment.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Ahdieh’s first duology (begun with The Wrath and the Dawn, 2015) propelled her to the top of the charts, and this new series starter brings that same blend of history, magic, and sensuality that drew readers in the first place.”—Booklist
“This story . . . will undoubtedly enthrall readers.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Rich in magical realism and cultural nuance of feudal Japan, Ahdieh’s series starter begins with a girl-power bang. . . . A wonderful choice for YA shelves, especially where lush fantasy is popular.”—School Library Journal
“[A] fun feudal samurai drama. . . . an action-packed and well-paced young adult novel.”—The Washington Post
“Filled with strong female characters, action and adventure, and beautiful storytelling, Flame in the Mist offers a world you'll want to escape into for a long while.”—BuzzFeed
"Romance, action and magic intertwine in this novel likely to keep readers enthralled."—Deseret News
“This richly imagined, action-packed adventure, featuring a feisty heroine and set in feudal Japan, comes from the acclaimed author of The Wrath & The Dawn and The Rose & The Dagger. . . . Ahdieh is a superb craftsman, and this engaging tale of betrayal and revenge ends on a cliffhanger, leaving the reader eagerly awaiting the next book.”—Buffalo News
“Rich world-building in feudal-era Japan and plenty of intrigue make this page-turning young-adult novel a winning foray into fantasy.”—Austin American Statesman
“[With] Flame in the Mist, Ahdieh has gifted us a new series to obsess over. If you live for books that have lush worlds, swoony romance and non-stop action, you’ll want to read this.”—Paste Magazine
“Even in the long line of fictional females who pose as male to thwart patriarchal restrictions, Mariko stands out. . . . The novel’s surprising, tumultuous ending leaves the reader eagerly anticipating a sequel, impatient to find out what iteration of herself Mariko will invent next.”—Chicago Tribune
“Set to marry the emperor’s son, Mariko is attacked by hired bandits en route to meet him. To uncover the truth behind the assassination attempt, Renée Ahdieh’s heroine must infiltrate the assailants’ gang —disguised as a man.”—US Weekly
“From the best-selling author of The Wrath and the Dawn duology, comes a new adventure. Set in Feudal Japan, Mariko has long known that despite her talent and intelligence, her future lies in making an advantageous political marriage. Traveling to the capital city for her marriage, she narrowly escapes an assassination attempt. Determined to get to the bottom of the plot, she dresses as a boy and infiltrates the gang sent to kill her. If you liked Disney’s Mulan, you’ll like this.”—The Newark Advocate
“Anyone who has read Renée Ahdieh's The Wrath and the Dawn duology (and if you haven't — get on it!) will be thrilled that she's releasing a new novel this year, called Flame in the Mist. Set in feudal Japan, this story follows a young woman named Mariko, who is the daughter of a samurai. On the way to be married in order to help her family's political standing, Mariko's group is attacked, and she poses as a boy to escape and infiltrate the clan of her enemies (attention: Mulan-lovers!).”—PopCrush
“Alchemy, samurai, and Renée Ahdieh. Need we say more?”—Culturess
“Beautifully written and masterfully plotted . . . Shades of Mulan and 47 Ronin frame the novel, but the fantasy elements and the vivid characters give the story its own distinct flavor . . . a definite must-read!”—RT Book Reviews
“As author Renée Ahdieh did with her debut, The Wrath & the Dawn, Flame in the Mist explores a young woman’s power and strength to effect great change in a patriarchal society. And the realistic stories, fascinating culture and complex relationships of Ahdieh’s fictional characters—explored in actual, historical settings—are completely enrapturing.”—BookPage
“Consider us #blessed to have a new series from Renee Ahdieh, because Flame in the Mist has her signature lush and dangerous romantic adventure vibes we loved so much in The Wrath and the Dawn.”—Bustle
“Swoony dudes, new worlds, and crazy high stakes . . . [Flame in the Mist is] the kind of book that’ll have you staying up late and calling in sick, just so you can finish it in one sitting.”—Brit + Co
“With Flame in the Mist, Renée Ahdieh delivers a vibrant, action-packed historical fantasy that unfurls in Feudal Japan . . . Ahdieh creates characters you long to learn more about. She’s adept at building a world that feels enchanting, hypnotic, real and sensual. Every page shimmers with intrigue and desire.”—USA Today Happy Ever After
“The story is full of palace intrigue, disguises, magic, and Mariko’s search to find a place where she can be herself—not a bargaining chip, a daughter, a sister, or a prisoner. . . . Fans of Tamora Pierce and Kristin Cashore will enjoy this magical feudal tale.”—VOYA
Praise for The Wrath and the Dawn:
#1 New York Times Bestseller
#4 on the Summer 2015 Kids' Indie Next List!
An Amazon Best Book of the Year for 2015 – Young Adult
A New York Public Library Best Book for Teens for 2015
A Seventeen Magazine Best Book of 2015
A YALSA 2016 Best Fiction for Young Adults Pick
“Lushly imagined and powerfully characterized, it’s a potent page-turner of intrigue and romance.”—Publishers Weekly
“This book is a fairy tale, a mystery, and … promises to become a classic tale of its own.”—VOYA
★ “Set against a backdrop of political intrigue and a simmering revolution, this isa carefully constructed narrative of uncertain loyalties, searing romance, and subtle magic in a harsh desert city.”—Booklist, starred review
★ “The rich, Middle Eastern cultural context adds to the author’s adept world building… a surefire hit with teens.”—School Library Journal, starred review
★ “Renée Ahdieh's lush debut novel, The Wrath and the Dawn, is a suspenseful and beautiful reimagining of The Arabian Nights, with an edge.”—Shelf Awareness, starred review
“Dreamily romantic, deliciously angst-y, addictively thrilling.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Sumptuous detail … satisfyingly steamy scenes, along with some angsty push and pull moments between the two for optimal romantic tension.”—BCCB
“Don’t be surprised if the pages melt away and you find yourself racing through warm, golden sands or drinking spiced wine in cool marble courtyards. This is an intoxicating gem of a story. You will fall in love, just as I did.”—Marie Lu, New York Times bestselling author of the Legend series and The Young Elites
“In her absorbing debut, Renée Ahdieh spins a tale as mesmerizing as that of her heroine Shahrzad, filled with lush details and brimming with tension. The Wrath and the Dawn is truly an exceptional story, beautifully written.”—Carrie Ryan, New York Times bestselling author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth
“Ahdieh weaves a world that is lush with detail. You will want to hear, taste, and touch everything. But it's not just the world that is vividly alive. The characters are fascinating too: I loved the friendships, romance, and shifts in feeling. A beautifully written book, The Wrath and the Dawn is a story I could not put down.”—Marie Rutkoski, author of The Winner’s Trilogy
Praise for The Rose and the Dagger:
#1 New York Times Bestseller
★ “Beautiful, lyrical writing combines with a cohesive plot, richly drawn backdrop, and just the right mix of action and romance to create an undeniable new classic.”—School Library Journal, starred review
“Above all there is the shattering, triumphant catharsis of love… In a story about stories, love is ‘the power to speak without words.’ Thrillingly full of feeling.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Fiery romance, a spirited heroine, shifting loyalties… With more than a few heartrending twists and turns.”—Booklist
“[Ahdieh’s] prose remains lush and evocative, ideal for sand-swept landscapes and racing hearts.”—VOYA
About the Author
Renée Ahdieh is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling The Wrath and the Dawn and The Rose and the Dagger. In her spare time, she likes to dance salsa and collect shoes. She is passionate about all kinds of curry, rescue dogs, and college basketball. The first few years of her life were spent in a high-rise in South Korea; consequently, Renée enjoys having her head in the clouds. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband and their tiny overlord of a dog.
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Mariko is the only daughter of a high-ranking samurai noble. An ambitious samurai noble who has arranged for her to marry the emperor's second son. While on the road to meet her betrothed in the capitol, her convoy is attacked in the forest by a gang of bandits with the express purpose of killing her. In spite of everyone else in her convoy ending up dead, Mariko miraculously survives, but only because she is believed to be dead. Thrown into a hostile environment of which she has learned nothing in her privileged life, Mariko has only her wits to rely on to survive. And her daring, which prompts her to disguise herself as a boy and then find and infiltrate the Black Clan, the gang she believes assaulted her convoy, in order to find out who was behind the attack meant to kill her.
Here's a sample of the prose style:
"Fear knifed through Mariko's center, its aim hot and true. She knew she could not afford to let a boy like Ōkami see even a hint of distress. She had to get free of these men. Had to gain the upper hand somehow. Seeking a way to distract herself -- any weakness in the strength surrounding her -- she studied Ōkami's fingers. They were long. Strong. His forearms were corded with muscle. His hold on the reins was loose. Easy. Which meant he was likely an accomplished rider. Any attempt to unseat him would be ill-advised.
-- But perhaps Mariko could unseat him in other ways.
-- "What kind of a name is Ōkami?" she began, her tone low and brusque.
-- "You really don't learn, do you?"
-- "You mocked my name, even though your parents named you after a wolf?"
-- "They didn't."
-- Despite all, her curiosity took hold once more. "Then it's a nickname?"
-- "Stop talking," Ōkami said. "Before I pass you to someone who really will beat the impudence out of you."
-- She paused. "Wolves are pack creatures, you know."
-- Anther rumble of coarse laughter rang out from behind them. "I just admit that boy is tenacious, even in the face of doom."
-- Mariko felt Ōkami shift in the saddle to address the cook. At that, she took the opportunity she'd been waiting to catch him unawares.
-- She bit into the skin just above Ōkami's knee. Hard.
-- He cursed loudly, causing his horse to rear. Mariko almost slid headfirst from her perch, but Ōkami took hold of her in a firm grip, catching her at the last possible moment.
-- He yanked her toward him, chest to chest, grasping her tight by the collar of her threadbare kosode. Mariko expected to find fury in his eyes. Instead she was met with an impenetrable expression. Not the cold sort. But rather carefully veiled, though his eyes were remarkably clear. Like glass in a cavern at midnight.
-- Mariko returned his stare, her heart thrashing wildly. "If you were me, you would have done the same thing." She could not prevent her voice from quavering on the last word.
-- "No, I wouldn't." Ōkami's dark brows lowered. Shadowed his gaze. Something tugged at his lips. "I would have succeeded."
Note: One important thing people need to know before picking up this book: this is not a stand-alone novel. While nothing in the title or the jacket description reveals it, this is very obviously intended to be the first book of a series as it ends on a number of cliff-hangers. And while Flame in the Mist falls into the category of YA fantasy, the reader should be advised that the actual fantasy elements are few and far between, at least in this volume. That said, however, the two that were present are key to the long-term plot.
The only real problem I had with Flame in the Mist - the reason that I ended up giving it four stars instead of five - is that a great deal of the plot depends on the central character, Mariko, who is described as being keenly observant, somehow missing the equivalent of an 800-lb gorilla in the room for pretty much the entire book. I can't say more about what she misses without getting into spoiler territory however. But a great deal of what happens is dependent on her missing it and continuing to miss it when it should have been increasingly obvious from when she first manages to infiltrate the Black Clan. It caused me to have real trouble finding Mariko credible as the character she was described to be.
Overall though, highly recommended for anyone who enjoys good YA fantasy and particularly for anyone who likes such stories in Asian settings and cultures.
Mariko, the leaders of the Black Clan, and Kenshin are interesting and complex characters, and the background of a time and culture very different from our own adds to their appeal. The story moved right along, and the writing was quite good, so I always wanted to see what would happen next. I liked Mariko’s intelligence and (as one other reviewer mentioned) watching her think through her problems, though I didn’t find myself really becoming emotionally involved with the characters until fairly late in the book. I enjoyed the fact that the romance in the story developed slowly and subtly.
One thing that puzzled me is that the main description of this book on Amazon referred to Mariko as “an accomplished alchemist”—but there’s nothing in the book about that at all, though it provides evidence that Mariko likely would become quite good at alchemy if she had a chance to learn it. In general, the fantasy elements in the book are few and, for the most part, not important, though they may become more so in the sequel.
My only serious complaint is that the book has a cliffhanger ending, preparing readers for said sequel. I don’t mind leaving some threads of a backstory hanging loose for further development, but I like each book in a series to come to a more definite ending than this one does. Still, I wanted badly enough to know what happened to Mariko and the other characters to preorder the sequel as soon as I finished the first volume.
"The only power any man has over you is the power you give him." -Okami
Kenshin is also an interesting character, in that he'll do anything to help save Mariko, but he is blinded by the need for revenge and control and harms innocent people unnecessarily.
My only complaint is the book ended in a cliffhanger.
Good romance development
I am always mesmerized by her writing and the dialogue in this book is perfect.
"Be as swift as the wind. As silent as the forest.
As fierce as the fire. As unshakable as the mountain."
No, Flame in the Mist does not disappoint. To give it 5 stars, at least in my head, would put it on the same level as The Wrath and the Dawn, and I just can't make myself go that far. But I loved every minute and cannot wait until book two is out!