Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
Division 4 and up
Publication Date: May 16, 2017
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Books for Young Readers
5 out of 5 stars
When Mariko’s convoy is attacked on her way to her wedding, she has two choices. Die in the flames of her carriage, or fight to survive and find those who would harm her. She chooses to fight – and dons the disguise of a young boy – and searches out the notorious Black Clan in order to find answers. And vengeance.
I absolutely loved The Wrath and the Dawn, so when I heard that Renee Ahdieh was writing a retelling loosely based on Mulan I was very excited. And I was not disappointed. I think it was Roshani Chokshi who described Renee Ahdieh’s writing as “butter”, and I cannot think of a more accurate description. It is rich, and smooth, and velvety, and makes you wonder how you managed without it before.
One of my favourite things about reading this book (which I also found with The Wrath and the Dawn) is that you feel like you know where it’s headed. You know where this story is going, and you’re on board. And then there’s a twist. And you thought you saw the twist coming. But it’s a different twist, and this is all so much better than you thought it was going to be. You saw the turn in the road, but it went in a completely different direction than you anticipated. And the scenery is great.
Renee Ahdieh is a big fan of her hate-to-love romances. And I am not complaining. The romantic tension in this book was excellent, and I think that people who felt that Khalid and Sharzad were too insta-lovey will not be disappointed with the romance in Flame in the Mist. That being said, I feel like there was a missed opportunity to explore with the nature of gender and sexuality (because of the cross-dressing), but you can’t have everything.
The Mulan references were not too heavy handed (there was one part where I couldn’t help but start singing Be A Man in my head), but very much appreciated. It appeared as though the research about Japanese culture was thorough and well-applied (I may be wrong about this, though. Please correct me if I’m wrong).
And that cliffhanger. This is why I don’t like to read books right when they are published. Because now I’m going to have to wait forever for the next one. I want Flame in the Mist #2 now!
Yet another strong contender from Renee Ahdieh. If you liked her other books, or if you’re a fan of Mulan, I’d definitely give Flame in the Mist a shot.