“But Mariko knew it was time to do more. Time to be more.
She would not die a coward. Mariko was the daughter of a samurai. The sister of the Dragon of Kai.
But more than that, she still held power over her decisions.
For at least this one last day.
She would face her enemy. And die with honor.”
~THE FLAME IN THE MIST
Okay, SO LISTEN. Renée Ahdieh's new novel THE FLAME IN THE MIST is a great book. A fantastic book. BUT IT IS NOT A MULAN RETELLING. And if you go into this book thinking it is? You're doing a great disservice to both the book and yourself, because you might be disappointed, and that might hinder your enjoyment of this book...and you don't want that!
I would actually go so far as to say that this book is more heavily inspired by the legends of Robin Hood than it is Mulan--and I think there's going to be a little bit of Sleeping Beauty mixed in come the second book in the duology in 2018.
I mean, to begin with, Mulan herself was Chinese. Granted, the story can work in a Japanese setting, because samurai and all. But Mulan disguised herself as a soldier. In an army. In THE FLAME IN THE MIST, Mariko disguises herself out of necessity. When her carriage is attacked, she is the only survivor. She decides to disguise herself as a boy and infiltrate The Black Clan in order to have revenge since they attempted to kill her. TOTALLY DIFFERENT STORY, RIGHT!?
I loved Ahdieh's first duology, The Wrath and the Dawn, and have been so excited for something new from her. And when they revealed that gorgeous cover!? And said it was a Mulan retelling? (Again, it's NOT!) I was whipped into a frenzy. I HAD to have it in my grubby little hands. I did the craziest happy dance when I got my hands on an ARC, and I'm so excited to pick up a finished copy this week --because it comes out TOMORROW!!!--and see this beauty in person! (I was SO tempted to wait to review this until the book released so I could do a lot of up-close detail of the cover and interior, but I felt it was more important to make sure you go into the release this week with realistic expectations about the content!)
I was expecting a LOT from this book, to be honest. And it was nothing like any of my expectations. AND IT WAS OKAY. I loved the book for what it was. To begin with, the book was much darker than I anticipated. It starts off with man committing seppuku while his young son looks on--and then getting beheaded. And this all happens by Page 3, so that's not really a spoiler. THEN when we meet our heroine Mariko for the first time, it's another bloody, disturbing scene, one where Mariko barely escapes with her life. She quickly realizes she must do the unthinkable in order to survive. Ahdieh starts this novel off with a HUGE bang. It just throws you right into the action. In this way, it brings one of my favorite books of 2016, RUINED by Amy Tintera, to mind. That book also started off at a run. The crazy punches keep coming, and readers are in for a whirlwind of a ride!
|一期一会 on DVD!|
(Here's one of the short episodeson YouTube
if you're interested in
hearing more, lol!)
Ahdieh is great at making readers care about all of her characters, even secondary ones. She's even better at making sure that you never know who to trust! Could he be telling the truth? Is he lying? Who do you trust? There are so many lies and deceit that it can be hard to know for sure. But there's also a core of truth, and the relationships Mariko begins to make make you care about everyone. Yoshi was a favorite secondary character of mine, and I loved the way he took Mariko under his wing when nobody else would. I also loved Ōkami and was always excited to see his character on the page. He has so many layers to him, and we've only started peeling them all back! And of course, I love Mariko, too. Sure, she makes some stupid decisions, but she's also smart. REALLY smart. She's an inventor, and that is so cool!! ESPECIALLY since she's living in a time when women weren't appreciated for their brains. I love so much of what she comes up with and can't wait to see what else is lying up her sleeve!
I already can't wait for the sequel to release in a year and to get more answers to all my questions and see how everything comes together!