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Publisher's Summary

From the number-one New York Times best-selling author of The Wrath and the Dawn comes a sweeping, action-packed YA adventure set against the backdrop of Feudal Japan, where Mulan meets Tamora Pierce.

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 17 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, whom 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, that will force her to question everything she's ever known.

©2017 Renée Ahdieh (P)2017 Listening Library

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Left Feeling A Bit Lost...

I want to preface this review by first saying...I think the audiobook narrator did a fantastic job. I really do.

That said...this story left me feeling so lost and confused. Maybe, it's a story that is best read from a book, rather than audiobook. I wanted to love this story...but in the end I honestly felt like I was listening to it simply for the sake of completing what I started.

The beginning of the story had me completely captivated. As I flew through the first half, I found myself loving not only the carefully selected prose, but the mystery surrounding each character and plot point. But as the story unfolded...everything felt so...gray. For example...the poetic dialogue that each. and every. character uses throughout the novel becomes so over exhausted that I found myself daydreaming half the time. The characters blend together into an arc-less character unit. All except for the main character whose has that "I'm defiant, deal with it" attitude that I just can't bring myself to love. The action scenes had such a slow pace...a combination of what felt like run on sentences, and massive chunks of inner dialogue/narration. Then suddenly a character would die, and I'd have been so lost in the prose that I felt no emotion at all for the loss. Also...the characters have very little, if any, backstory. Which I believe the author is saving for book 2. In any case, I found them all to be un-relatable.

I believe my issue with the story overall is this...although the prose is beautifully poetic...I got so lost in it...it began to feel unlike a story at all. No disrespect to the author intended. It just wasn't for me.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Really great!!!!

It's my first time reading anything by Renée Ahdieh. And what a book!
I must say that I do love retelings, but until I knew about this book I never had seen Mulan, so I went to see it and I loved, of course!
This book delivered and I'm really excited to know what happens next.
In the beginning it was kinda difficult to read the names of people and things, so I bought the audiobook and began to read and listen at the same time. Much better! (Eventually I dumped the book, because I was practicing brush lettering 😂).
Anyway, I totally recommend this book. One of the best reads of this year! I'm on a good streak, thank God! 😃

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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4/5

Well-written, good world building, action-packed. Mariko has always been strong-willed so when her father promised her to a neighboring Prince, she was anything but happy about it. On the way to the Prince's, her caravan was attacked, and by some miracle she was able to survive. She poses as a boy in order to infiltrate the Black Clan, the group she thinks is responsible for the murder attempt on her life. The more time she spends with them, the more she realizes they are not as they seem. Characters were interesting, but there were just so many of them. Multiple POV. Ends in a good spot for the sequel.

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Enchanting

Renee Ahdeih has a knack of showing a new world filled with magic, mystery, love and action all rolled into one!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Magic, Adventure, History and Romance!

Would you listen to Flame in the Mist again? Why?

Yes, it was wonderful and I listened to it so quickly the first time I now want to go back and pay attention to all the details.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Mariko. I'm a sucker for a strong and rebellious female protagonist.

What does Nancy Wu bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Yes, she did a wonderful job narrating.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

There were too many to count!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Great!

I really liked this book! The narrator did a graet job, I do however wish that there were multiple narrators but that is just personal preference.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

An Amazing Story with Asian Influences

I really enjoyed this book! I wasn't happy with the way that almost every chapter kept reminding that the Black Clan was evil, but other than that the story was really good. I need more!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Very Good

Any additional comments?

This was a good book with an excellent premise.It could have been better, but overall well worth your time. The romance between Mariko and Ookami is really well done. The scene in her tent was one of the best love scenes I've read. Short but good. I like the dynamic between them a lot. The history between Ranmaru and Tsuneoki is great too.
The main issue with the book is that Mariko goes on a quest to find out who tried to kill her, and by the end of the book, has made no progress towards that goal. Once everything is out in the open at the end of the book, the Black Clan has no reason not to just tell her that they didn't attack her, yet she asks them point blank, and they refuse to answer. This felt like a cheap way to stretch out the "mystery." Yumi even makes this snotty comment about "if you have to ask, then you don't deserve to know Ranmaru/Tsuneoki." Mariko has completely valid concerns, that could be dispelled by a simple "no," and yet everyone is playing these dumb games. It's frustrating.
Another major issue for me was the lack of development of the Black Clan. They are supposed to be Robin Hood types that steal from the rich and give to the poor, and yet we never get to actually see them do it. Mariko lives with them for, I think months?, and she sees a grand total of 1 mission, which they botch so badly, that they actually make the starvation in that region worse instead of better. The book glosses over that completely and never discusses it. Furthermore, the moral compass of the Black Clan is inconsistent. They come down hard on Kenshin for hurting his enemies more than necessary to get information, and yet they torture a boy that sneaks into their camp by allowing him to be slowly eaten by a tree. They even give a speech about how this is OK, because he is their enemy. I would like to know what they actually believe and see it in action, and this needed to be in book 1, not somewhere down the road. It might not even be in book 2, since Mariko and Ookami have been taken to the palace. I just wanted more in regards to the Black Clan.
Overall I am looking forward to the next installment. I got really attached to Mariko and Ookami, and that went a long way to overlooking some of the plot issues.

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Looking forward

i fell deep into this plot. It gave a spike of culture which really fed my curiosity.
The book did lose me a couple times but the ending was exciting and the coming drama is making me impatient for the next book.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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It has potential!

I got about 4 hours in and I want to love it but the writer keeps reminding the reader of how bad the black clan is how much she hates it again and again so that in one chapter it's repeated 5 times. Yes we got it the first time!