Flame in the Mist – Renée Ahdieh (Review)

Title: Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1)
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2017 (May 16)
Genre: YA Fantasy, YA Retellings

**I received a copy of this book free from Penguin First to Read in exchange for an honest review**

This review can be found on my BlogTeacherofYA’s Tumblr, or my Goodreads page

My Review:

This book has been one of the most anticipated reads of the year. So when I got approved for a copy of this, I was over the moon. I got approved for this book, A Million Junes, and The One Memory of Flora Banks. While I now have the other two books in physical form, this book is now gone from my library because you don’t get to keep your review books from First to Read: they expire. So I still love looking at this beautiful cover and I know I must eventually get my hands on a copy of this book for my library. Just look at it…

Breathtaking. Just breathtaking. And although it’s been hyped to an extreme…

I think it deserves it.

This book has been considered a Mulan retelling. Honestly…I’ve never seen the movie. (Please don’t hurt me!) 

Mulan came out in 1998, when I was a teen (I’m dating myself here). I wasn’t watching Disney movies; I was getting my learner’s permit and working my first job at Baskin Robbins. I never watched it but I knew the story: girl pretends to be boy to be warrior, or something like that. Figured there was a love story and eventually Disney would make a live-action remake, which I planned on watching at some point.

But after this book…I think I’m going to go get my Disney on and watch Mulan.

I guess the good thing about never seeing the movie is that I had nothing with which to compare the book. And I think that can be a good thing. 

Ok, but let’s get into Flame in the Mist, because that’s what I do…so I won’t keep you in suspense any longer, lol. 

Mariko is the daughter of a prominent family, a family that has now become even more prestigious because Mariko has been promised to Minamoto Raiden. Raiden is the Emperor’s son…not the son that will take the throne, but the son from his consort. Mariko will be taken care of the rest of her days and her family will rise in social status and wealth.

Ahdieh’s sketches of Mariko – beautiful

On the way to the palace, Mariko’s caravan is attacked by the notorious Black Clan, thieves and bandits that have apparently been hired to assassinate Mariko. She narrowly escapes after the bandits flee from the fire they started, and she stumbles into the woods to figure out what to do. 

She realizes if she were to go to the palace now, after being attacked by the Black Clan and surviving, Mariko might be considered “damaged goods.” She also can’t go home; she would shame her family. After all, she is only a girl, and as one is thought of as property. Mariko decides she will go find the Black Clan and find out who ordered the assassination and why.

She cuts her hair. She changes her clothes. She knows her brother, once he discovers Mariko is alive, will come and try to find her. But Mariko isn’t ready to go back yet. She needs answers. She needs to find the Black Clan. 

When she finds the Black Clan, she finds more than she bargained for. She knows they don’t trust her, but they (thinking she’s a boy) take her into the Clan. As she tries to understand these murderers, she learns about the leader, Ranmaru, and his closest confidant, Okami, the “wolf.” Okami, scarred and radiating an energy that can only be magic, doesn’t trust Mariko. He knows there’s something off with her. Is she a spy? Has she been sent to infiltrate and destroy them? Who is this mysterious “boy” that has joined the Clan?

In the meantime, Mariko is trying to figure out the Black Clan and its motives…the “gangsters” aren’t behaving the way she suspected. She is constantly afraid that someone will discover her true identity and kill her, but she needs answers. She needs to know why anyone would want her dead. What would they gain? 

Mariko has an obstacle: Okami. He obviously doesn’t like her and doesn’t trust her. And she doesn’t like him either. She hates him.

But why then does he make Mariko feel like her skin is alive when he is around? Why does she seek him out in a crowd? 

As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she starts to question all that she knows…are the Black Clan really the monsters she has been led to believe? Or is there more to the gang than meets the eye?

Is It Classroom-Appropriate?

Omg, yes! This book…it’s an instant classic. (I’m sure you’ll be able to tell already how I’ll be rating it). It’s rich in Japanese culture with the language and traditions…I already knew some information because I’m a big historical fiction fan, and I have read a lot of books set in Feudal Japan. But the emphasis on honor and moral codes, along with the ways of the bushīdo, make this an excellent story with new vocabulary and varying customs. The mythology in the woods and the practices in the geiko tea houses are all intricate pieces weaved through the story to create a world rich in fantasy AND history. And the masquerade of Mariko demonstrates how little power women had across the globe.

Though it ends on a mighty cliffhanger, I give Flame in the Mist ★★★★★ for classroom use. Or, translated into the “TeacherofYA” rating scale:

I will be using this text in my own lesson plan. I will be focused on getting Flame in the Mist and its sequel in my classroom library ASAP. I know the students will enjoy this one. 

Age Range

As Flame hasn’t technically been released, I’m assuming it’s not on Lexile.com for that reason. (I’d be surprised if they left this book off the website). I found nothing too inappropriate except for some conversation between the male characters regarding sex, but it’s all very tongue-in-cheek. It’s more of an “experience” with women conversation. All implied. I would recommend 13 and up because of that…and I also stress that the reader be more ambitious because of the writing style. The writing is a little different and the pacing slower…I would make sure the younger the reader, the more seasoned. 

End Result:

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I obviously loved this book. I might as well cut to the chase and rate it. Right? Though I could discuss this book all day…and how frustrated I was when I got to the “end” of it because I’m now on the edge of my seat.

So I give Flame in the Mist ★★★★★. (Duh, right?)

You got give this one a try. It’s completely different than Ahdieh’s The Wrath & The Dawn but still had that otherworldly vibe. You feel transported to the time and place. Mariko and Shazi are completely different characters…Mariko is more calculated where Shazi was more hotheaded. Ahdieh really can create characters that do not repeat themselves. They are wholly original from her other books’ characters.

Are you reading Flame yet? Yes, it comes out May 16, so if you don’t have a copy, I hope you run out and grab one (there’s always the library!) and see for yourself how you feel towards Ahdieh’s take on Mulan. 

And then let me know what you think. You may call me an idiot if you hate it. It’s ok…I’ll be strong. 

(But you gotta love a girl that can kick butt, right?)

Happy Reading, my blogger bunnies! 


114 thoughts on “Flame in the Mist – Renée Ahdieh (Review)

  1. I’m sooo happy to see that you loved this book! I have wanted to read Renée Ahdieh’s other duology for ages and I hope to get to those books soon. Flame in the Mist sounds amazing as well, I was immediately intrigued when I saw that it was compared to Mulan (which is my favourite Disney movie) – I definitely need to get my hands on it as well. Great review! 😀


    1. Thank you!
      I liked this BETTER thank TW&TD. That one was good, but this one was nice and intense and there’s so much you don’t know and you want to shake Ahdieh and say, “When is the sequel??”

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally have to now! I saw your review on First to Read and I was like, “There’s Lilly!! Yay!!” So I posted mine, too. I still have A Million Junes and The One Memory of Flora Banks to read…luckily I have both books physically Bc they did not give me enough time for 3 books lmao!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol yeah they don’t give ample time to read their galleys which is why I typically read those first, kinda sucks though. I almost got The One Memory but decided to pass instead of add to my already full plate 😩😂 hope you enjoy, I’ll keep an eye out for your review 😉

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Well, I let that one lapse bc I won an ARC on Twitter…but yes, I chose way too many last time, and I think they should take that into account: so every title gets 20 days…therefore 3 titles should have 60 days! Ugh. There’s nothing there this round so at least I’ll have time to catch up!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. lol I completely agree! A Better system is needed. I checked this morning & thought the same, nothing worth my coins or time really so yea time to catch up lol, happy reading Stephanie 🙂🙃🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review!! I’m so excited about this book and I’m relieved that you liked it! Any good reviews out there really give me hope for this book and you’re one of my go-to blogs so YAY! Now I can’t wait to read this for myself!
    (I LOVE Mulan haha but I’m a bit biased since it was my childhood fave…okay well Mulan, Lion King, Beauty and the Beast,…anyway, I hope you watch it 😀 It’s pretty fun)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m one of your go-to blogs?? I’m honored!! 😭
      Yes, I really enjoyed this and apparently I have to catch up on my Disney movies…the last real Disney animation movie I saw (besides Frozen on a fortunate happenstance) was (chronologically) Hercules. And I barely watched it. So there’s a lot in between (was Prince of Egypt Disney? I don’t remember) that I never saw. I wish you were nearby and we could binge-watch some movies!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha yep! 😊 Your reviews are great!
        Hmm…I think Dreamworks did Prince of Egypt, not Disney. But who cares when it’s that good?? Ooo another non-Disney animated movie I love is Anastasia!
        A Disney binge would be so much fun!! If only!! Ugh I’m such a Disney movie addict haha

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I am so very excited to read this book. And I am so very excited for you to watch Mulan for the first time. That movie is definitely one of my favorite films from Disney. I hope you end up liking that one too. As for the book, I can tell it’s going to be a good one, especially since the author took the time to do some in-depth research, which always bolsters a book’s plot and characters. This one sounds like a keeper. Glad you loved it so much. Can’t wait to get my hands on this story and on the GORGEOUS book cover haha 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I Know! That cover is so beautiful! Sometimes I wish there was a way to display our books cover out in our shelves…because this cover just screams, “LOOK AT ME!” So amazing.
      I should probably tell you guys about my viewing experience of Mulan! I can’t believe, after all this time, I haven’t seen the movie. I’m ashamed! 😳
      I’ll have to see if I can find it available: Disney has a weird thing about their movies and they used to “go back in the Disney vault” after being on sale. They called it a moratorium. They were the only ones to do that and it kept movies in demand. Now that there’s streaming, I don’t think they do it anymore…I’ll have to see. But that’s what used to make getting older Disney movies hard.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know right!? The bookworm’s struggle LOL. And don’t be ashamed. Disney definitely doesn’t make it easy to access their older movies if you don’t already own them! I’m a huge Little Mermaid fan but I never managed to purchase it because of that vault LOL. Maybe it’s easier to purchase now. Haven’t tried in a while. For some time Mulan was on Netflix. Not sure it is now, but I’m pretty sure it’s easily accessible elsewhere. Maybe even on Amazon! But I’d love to see what you think of it once you mange to get your hands on it 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I love it when you love books so much. Your reviews are just brusting with goodness when you’re doing a rave review! 🙂
    I haven’t watched Mulan myself, but… I shall keep an eye on this when I happen to go to the library!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You win fave comment of the year!! (*I only have this crown 👑 *)
      You make me happy to review books, especially when you say something like that! You make me feel like my reviews matter, Boss. I love it and I’m going to have a great day now:
      you put a goofy happy smile on my face. 😃😃😃

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Aren’t your own bday presents the best presents ever??
      I got a copy of The Scarecrow Queen from a friend but I was planning on buying it for my bday. We always know what we want more than anyone else! 😂
      Happy early birthday!! 🎉🎁🎊🎂🎈

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love that you were able to find so much classroom value in this one! Great review 🙂 Of you are really interested, I believe the true origins of Mulan are from Ballad of Mulan. It is about Hua Mulan, a legendary Chinese female warrior? Not hundred percent. Had to verify some of that with a quick search. Maybe that would be something to also add an extra boost to classroom discussion? But sounds like you found plenty enough already! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s wonderful! Thank you for the info! When I plan a lesson, I always love more info to have available. I try to write them after a read so the book is fresh in my mind…when I have my own classroom, I’ll be able to use the lessons but for now, I have to always use someone else’s as I am a sub.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh. Maybe?
      Shhh. Don’t tell anyone. This book though is (I’m pretty sure) a Japanese Retelling. I think. 🤦‍♀️
      Honestly, I have read so much historical fiction from China and Japan that I honestly get some parts of their history confused.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Yesssss I’m so glad you loved this one! I got it from First to Read too, but it’s always very difficult for me to get that format of PDF onto my iPad, and I have a tough time reading a book entirely on my iPod or laptop. 😦 I can’t wait to read it, though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I know what you mean! It’s not Kindle compatible so I have to use Bluefire, and the first time I downloaded a book from them, it was glitchy and missing pages. They resent the file but then Bluefire claimed it wasn’t registered to the right account, which, according to Bluefire, is an Adobe issue with the Adobe IDs. So I was stuck having to write a review for a book that said I wasn’t able to read the book…luckily for me, other people had the same problem.
      The SECOND time I tried to get a book, I noticed that Bluefire had put an expiration on it, so I tried to open it with Overdrive. When the book wouldn’t open, I took it to Bluefire, but then it wouldn’t open there because it didn’t recognize my ID again!!
      This was the last straw. And it worked. I no longer have the book but I got to read it. The other book? I found online and am able to read. But the first book was the one that made me the most frustrated. It was The Careful Undressing of You. Oh well.
      This is why I prefer Netgalley.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly!!! I love Netgalley too, but I’ve actually had some of that particular kind of file from there as well…. It’s very frustrating for me because for whatever reason, I can’t download them directly to my iPad. I have to download them to my iPod and then email to myself and try to download them to my iPad, which occasionally doesn’t work anyway. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Oh that’s frustrating! I just remember I got a copy of Railhead from NG and it was ePub only and could only be read from Bluefire (that’s why I downloaded it in the first place). Then I saw the book wouldn’t open later after I finished it and I felt ripped off! It’s like, hey, you got your review, and I didn’t even get to keep the book!! 😑

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I need to watch it! I feel like the only one left on the planet that hasn’t seen it! 😂
      Normally a hyped book isn’t as good, and I was reading this with an overly critical eye: so it really is good bc I was expecting to be let down tbh!!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Between your review and Lilly’s I now want to read this one even more than I did before! I used to be obsessed with Japanese culture and history and would read anything with samurais in it. I love the fact that this one has that heavy mixture of history and fantasy. Plus, I’m all for a great book with a kick ass female lead. I’m going to have to read this one as soon as I’m able to buy it and have a chance to read it. Great review, Stephanie!! 😊♥

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Omg, yes!! Please read this and let me know what you think! I was obsessed with Japanese culture too! I have read a ton of Asian historical fiction like Amy Tan and Lisa See! I really want to know your thoughts though bc you and I are both obsessed similarly! 😂🙌

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Great review for this book Stephanie, and oh I am so so glad to see you enjoyed this one as well. I loved Flame in the Mist, I definitely agree it is so worth all the hype that seems to be surrounding it. I thought Mariko was a brilliant character and god after that ending I don’t know how I’m going to wait for the second book in the series.
    Also I’d recommend the Mulan movie as well, especially knowing you’ve read and loved this book! 😀 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know how I’m going to wait for the next book either! The only thing I can do? Forget it with other books in the meantime…it’s the only way I’ll survive!
      I need to see Mulan ASAP.
      I need to read Spindle Fire bc even though I have a physical copy, I have an ebook from the library and it’s the easiest way to read. So I’m hoping reading something else will break up this desire for book two!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s a good plan, and honestly it’s what I’m going to have to do as well. Good job there are plenty of amazing books being released in the meantime right?
        Well here’s hoping Spindle Fire does the trick. That’s one I need to read as well so I’ll be interested in hearing what you think of it. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Christy Luis

    Mulan is basically my favorite Disney movie!! 😍😍😍 I want to read Adieh’s other series first, but I guess since you love this one I’ll have to try it, too 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, you can read whatever one you want first…they are so different from each other! But I did like TW&TD…it was good. But this one is my fave of all her books now.
      If you do read ANY of her books, let me know what you think! I KNOW our tastes are super similar!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I am SO HAPPY to hear that you loved this one as much as I did, Stephanie! I just thought it was absolutely phenomenal. Definitely one of my favorites of the year, and I’d probably say my favorite fantasy novel of the year so far for sure! Also those quotes you shared were gorgeous!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay!! I’m glad you enjoyed it, since I enjoy your reviews so much!!
      It was such a good one. Now I need this in physical form since Penguin First to Read takes away the book after so many days. 😞

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Yeah, it’s totally lame. I have a friend who has a copy with a ripped cover…she was going to trade it with me, but I think she’s going to still put it up on booksfortrade. Maybe I’ll try to trade for a FC at some point. It’s a good book to have in the library and a great book for a lesson. 😊😊😊

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Aww…I don’t really have my own yet, but there are extended periods of time when a teacher is out, it feels like my own. I hate saying goodbye.
      The lesson plans I make are for my own classroom when I get the chance to teach full-time. Got to put in my sub time though as a requirement. Like student teaching.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You always know how to make me blush!! ☺️☺️☺️
        I hope so…I enjoy the subbing and the students I get to meet. They warm my heart and I have heard that they remember me, so that means I’m doing something right!! 😊🤞

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Alyssa!
      This is one of those books I would preorder too: you just can tell you’re gonna love it! I just wish I didn’t get it from First to Read….I would have liked to have kept my copy. Oh, well. I’ll have to get a copy for the classroom library! I think this is a good one for students to read. 😊 (Wouldn’t you have loved to have this as an option to read in high school?)
      Love it when you stop by! ❤️😘❤️


  11. This is one of my most anticipated books, so I am so glad to hear you enjoyed it so much. It sounds absolutely fantastic! Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! ❤


    1. Thank you very much!
      It’s always nice when a book you’re eagerly awaiting gets good reviews…I’ve been avoiding the reviews for ACOWAR but it’s all five stars so far…it’s nice to know that a book will most likely be a good read! (And I mean how could Flame not be? It just sounds amazing! Lol)
      I hope you end up liking it as much as I did! Crossing my fingers and awaiting your review! 😉


  12. I pretty much enjoyed this book! Had a few issues, but nothing too bad that effected my reading experience. I did really like Mariko but her logic behind everything was pretty flawed. Loved Okami and Kenshin especially! Great review as always ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: Book Breakups: The Dreaded Slump Edition

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