Review of: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

Ever since I first read The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh I have been addicted to her writing, characters, and the idea of stories as an element of the plot.  One of my favorite bookish items in my room was the print I got for pre-ordering The Rose and the Dagger, it’s quote focused on story, which makes me even happier about it.  If you’ve heard of Ahdieh’s work you’ve likely heard it in discussions of diversity in books, a unique feature that is growing in demand, and she is one of the best at it.  The Wrath and the Dawn was her retelling of A Thousand and One Nights, and if you haven’t read that yet, definitely try it out after this book, you will get sucked in.

Breakdown? 5 out of 5

(Sorry, I know there’es been quite a few of these perfect reviews, but I have been lucky to read such great books)

Favorite Quote:

“I’ve never been angry to have been born a woman.  There have been times I’ve been angry at how the world treats us, but I see being a woman as a challenge I must fight.  Like being born under a stormy sky.  Some people are lucky enough to be born on a bright summer’s day.  Maybe we were born under clouds.  No wind.  No rain.  Just a mountain of clouds we must climb each morning so that we may see the sun.”

Reasoning?

During my time reading this book I got some serious Mulan vibes, enough so that I ended up listening and re-listening to the soundtrack (‘I’ll make a man out of you’ was one such song), and also watching the movie again.  To be clear though, this book is not Mulan, it has similarities and certain underlying plots that are the same, but there are darker elements in this story that push this tale a lot further, and the character to greater levels of growth.  I love the disney movie, but I think this book takes us down a more epic path, and subsequently planted itself onto my series watch-list right near the top.

So, this is where you want to know what’s so good about it.  For one thing, if you liked Mulan I can almost guarantee that you will enjoy this book.  One of the scenes that is almost eerily similar includes a scene almost like the one called ‘Mulan’s Decision’, but after that point the story takes on its own path, and every major point of plot differs entirely, though I still had what I’m calling the “Mulan Vibe”.  There wasn’t any singing, but the strength of the female lead, and the supporting characters gave me that feeling.

Another great point of what made this book an excellent read was its support of women in being independent and powerful in their own way.  Mariko, our protagonist, isn’t trained in hand to hand combat, or gifted amazing super powers, but relies heavily on an intelligence she built up in her childhood, and is perhaps what made her more relatable.

Overall, like most of my reviews I’m still a really easy grader, but one of the things I really seek when I pick up a book is not for it to break boundaries, but to surprise me.  One thing I have always encountered when reading Ahdieh’s books is the big surprise feeling, and I’m beyond happy with the entirety of this book, from beginning to end.

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