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.'
Read onward for SPOILER FREE MUSINGS.
I recently joined a book club in my city, called the YA Circle, and it has been amazing! (And I've only been to one meeting so far!) This club has made me realise there is so much about my favourite genre (the genre I want to be published in one day) that I just don't know. And I want to know!
And even more importantly, it has already introduced me to some amazingly exciting books!
I enjoyed 'The Flame in the Mist' by Renee Ahdieh immensely.
I found the writing to be very beautiful, the descriptions of the landscape, clothes, traditions and culture of the world Renee Ahdieh creates were really lovely, and built very vivid pictures in my mind. I also liked the unflinching descriptions of battle and violence, particularly the very opening prologue scene and initial attack on the protagonist that sets the story in motion. Actually those scenes kind of blew my mind. I like YA authors who do not hold back, and I am constantly finding myself surprised by how far you can push a story while still remaining YA, and I love this.
I liked Mariko a lot, enjoyed the ideas of the restrictive society she lived within, that she is railing against, particularly I loved the (at first very ambiguous) tiny rebellion she has taken against her family for arranging her wedding without her consent.
I found this refreshing and again, surprising. (Hopefully if you have read the book you will know what I'm referring to, it is such a small part of the story, but Mariko's choices in this instance made me like her, it made her feel real, and I loved how she rebelled in one of the only ways open to her within her very restrictive world, by claiming her body as her own.)
Love Story Elements.
Look, I'm not going to lie, I adore good love stories. They are my favourite thing. But.... I hate cheesy love stories, I hate couples who fall in love for no reason. I hate dumb stuff.
And thankfully this story isn't dumb.
It has a wonderful love interest character, a slow burn and satisfying relationship build up, and a pretty sexy kiss scene. I think it works so well because the author shows a lot of restraint, letting the build up between these characters breathe, taking things slow. I loved it. Their banter, conversations and bickering was wonderful and believable. It really worked for me.
Actually, at some point I would even like to write a further post on how to write a good kiss scene using this book as an example. The tension between Mariko and her love interest was just so very perfectly realised.
Constructive things this book made me think about.
Overall this was a beautiful book.
For me, it was more of a sensory experience than a plot centric book. It is the first in a duology I believe, so most of the questions raised aren't exactly answered in this story, but this wasn't something I minded. I guess I got so caught up in the atmosphere, the love interest and love story, and the world being created, that I didn't care too much what happened and was just swept along on a highly enjoyable ride.