Flame in the Mist


Written by Renee Ahdieh

Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, May 16, 2017

My star rating: 3 stars


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. Find it on Goodreads

spoiler free graphic


At the beginning of last year I read The Wrath and the Dawn. I expected to like it but I ended up LOVING it and becoming obsessed with the story and the characters. Especially the characters! They were so complex and relatable! So when I found out about The Flame in the Mist I immediately put it on my wish list and counted the days to its release. It pains me more than I can put into words – I was severely underwhelmed with this one. But before I go into detail I must say that this was not a bad book! It’s one of those situations where “It’s not you, it’s me” applies. I honestly feel like I may not have been in the proper head space to appreciate this one. But then again there are a few others that agree with my points.

My first problem – the pace. The first 100 pages felt like torture! There was so much info dumping and just being thrown into this setting with these characters and still not having a clear picture as to what was going on. The writing was also lacking a bit for me. I missed the beautiful descriptions and flowing sentences from The Wrath and the Dawn. The writing just felt jagged, rushed and incomplete. Throughout this book I felt like things were being repeated and going in circles, never moving forward.

The second problem I had was what was described in the synopsis. In the first paragraph of the synopsis there was mention that she was “the daughter of a prominent samurai”, yet we never really had the chance to meet her family and learn of their background. We were just thrown into the fact that Mariko was set to be married to one of the Emperor’s sons and then she was off. I lacked the familial information to really bring me closer to Mariko and her current state of mind. Also in that first paragraph, it’s mentioned that she is an accomplished alchemist. Did I miss that completely?? We were given the impression that she was smart – and let me tell you I LOVED that!! I’m all for super tough and strong characters, but a character with a strong mind is so compelling!! I was waiting to see what she knew of alchemy and it was just thrown in as a side note when she was presented with certain things. I needed more elaboration as to how she learned what she did and how she practiced it.

The third problem – the romance. I literally got to a point in this book where I just closed it and resisted the urge to throw it. I’m sorry but to me the romance felt SO out of place!! In the Wrath and the Dawn there was a similar build up to romance. Shazi felt pure hatred for the Prince until he slowly tore down his walls and showed her his true self. There was a slow building of trust and friendship. But here, it was just hatred one minute and then the next she wanted to kiss him to make him silent. WHAT???!! Mariko’s affections were so sudden and without warning or cause. BUT – having said that, I really do enjoy reading a romantic relationship when it’s written by this author. She has such a way describing feelings and emotions. The dialogue between characters in a romantic relationship feels like liquid silk. Believe it or not, my favourite quote out of this book is in regards to the very relationship that annoyed me.

“I don’t care who you were. I only care who you are now. And that you are with me tonight.”

He turned toward her. “Always. In all ways”

So beautiful! Once I got over my initial anger at this romantic relationship and just took it for what it was, it was a joy to read. But I just feel like this book could have done without the romance or just been built up a bit better.

My last major problem with this book is the POV changes. It was mainly told from the perspective of the main character Mariko. But every so often we would get a perspective from her brother, the Emperor, or the Emperor’s wife or mistress. These POV changes were sporadic and spread so far apart. These small insights into these other characters weren’t long enough and didn’t offer enough information to the story to be incredibly useful. For me it sometimes only caused more confusion.

The last 100 pages were its redeemer. The action scenes were so well written and things finally started to come together. But I’m still not sure if I’m interested enough in the plot or the characters to continue with this series. I just finished it yesterday and I already forget most of the story. I won’t write it off but I won’t be running out to get it immediately.

I’m sorry Renee – The Wrath and the Dawn will still be one of my favourites!!

Have you read this book? Did you like it more than I did? I hope so!

Until next time, happy reading!

24 Comments Add yours

  1. judithcmoore says:

    Totally with you on the last 100 pages being the best!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Noooooooooooooooooooooo. I wanted this to be an amazing 5 star read. Oh dear. I I could see where this could have gone wrong, and I totally see your points on the different things. I’m still going to read it, because I’m so with you about The Wrath and the Dawn, but I’m totally going in knowing all of this. That first 100 pages, though, is going to be painful. You did a wonderful job, though, capturing the amazing parts of it as well. Wonderful review!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks! I was really worried! I hate reviewing a book where I have negative things to say. Especially when I love the other books I’ve read from the author. It’s not a bad book by any means – I just don’t think it was the right book for me


  3. Marie says:

    Oh no, I’m so sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy this one as much as The Wrath and The Dawn. I’m really impatient to get to it, but I think I’ll go in with less expectations now – I’m a bit sad we don’t get much of the main character’s family background, I always love when that happens. Also, I’m not against multiple POV when they are done right, but the fact that it seems so irregular in this would probably confuse me a little bit as well. Well, I hope I’ll enjoy this anyway! Thank you so much for the review!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I really hope you enjoy it more than I did! I’m sure you will. I’ve had this feeling lately that I’m moving away from the YA fantasy genre a bit. I’ve been in a bit of a reading funk lately not knowing what to read and getting into things I never would have!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Marie says:

        Ohh really? Well maybe it’s just a phase and you’ll get out of it – or maybe it means you prefer other kind of fantasy books now? Who knows, you might find a YA fantasy that takes your breath away again 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I went through a phase like this before. I took a step back for a while and came into it refreshed and loved it again. Just YA fantasy overload I think!

          Liked by 1 person

  4. TeacherofYA says:

    I loved it…but Melanie hated it…so I’m used to a differing opinion (well. Maybe hate is a strong word…she didn’t care for it). So some people absolutely loved it and some people were meh. But at least no one hated it so far! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No hate here! I kept reading and it ended ok. Just like you said – I didn’t care for it much. I still love her as an author though!


  5. Sorry you didn’t enjoy this one as much as the wrath and the dawn, I’ve heard a lot of amazing things about this book but yours is the first one that hasn’t been purely positive. Honestly I enjoy reading reviews that aren’t 100% positive because it lowers my expectations and normally I enjoy books more if my expectations aren’t super high! Great review ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That could have been my problem going into this. My expectations were at moon level 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Beware Of The Reader says:

    Wonderful honest review!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hello! I have tagged you for the Would You Rather book tag; a tag I created myself! https://btweenthepages.com/2017/05/25/the-would-you-rather-book-tag-my-own-creation/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the tag!! I’ll check it out as soon as I get the chance. I love blogger created tags 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh my, this book had a lot of issues! I’ve not read any books by the author yet but heard great things about The Wrath and The Dawn. This one seems to have mixed reviews so far. I really want to read it and find out on which side my opinion will fall, though.
    Great review! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are so many that loved it. I was a little surprised that I had a problem getting into it. I think I’ve just saturated myself with fantasy and it’s causing me to enjoy them less. I hope you enjoy it!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh that might be it… Or maybe they’re all just the same nowadays so it’s hard to not get fed up.
        Thank you! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Drat. I had high hopes for this. Maybe I’ll wait for my library to get it instead of buying it. Thank you for your honest review.😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really hope you enjoy it! I honestly think I’m just going through a fantasy funk. There are so many that loved it but I just couldn’t connect to it the way that I wanted to. It may be time for a break from fantasy so I can fall back in love with it again!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. JoanaDuarte says:

    Well, this is sad… Everyone seems to feel different about this book… I want it to be an amazing book so badly >.< I will still read it because I really need to see it by myself since there are so many mixed feelings.
    Amazing review!! I hope you have better luck with the next book if you decide to continnue!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would t ever want my experience with a book stop someone from reading it and forming their own opinion. This is one that I personally couldn’t connect with while others loved it! I hope you enjoy when you get to it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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