‘Flame in the Mist’ full of female empowerment

A purpose in life is what people strive for, but when a purpose is constructed by someone else, how will you be able to make it your own?  

In “Flame in the Mist” by Renée Ahdieh, the daughter of a samurai is sent off to be married to a prince.

Mariko, the filial daughter she is, agrees to do what must be done, but she never gets to the palace. Instead, the carriage she rides in is bombarded. Those who attack her convoy are none other than the dangerous Black Clan, a group of bandits who were hired to kill Mariko.

The Black Clan is not thorough in their mission and leave, not making sure if Mariko is really dead. Mariko uses this opportunity to make decisions on her own, for herself. Filled with vengeance, Mariko seeks out the Black Clan to figure out who sent them to kill her and why.

Throughout Mariko’s mission, she will find out the world isn’t as she has always seen it to be. There are creatures she never knew existed, and the mythical elements cause Mariko to question the world she had previously perceived.

With the Black Clan, Mariko realizes she can be herself. She’s able to make her own decisions and she is accepted for her interests and behaviors that were once considered improper or weird.

Mariko is conflicted when she finds out the Black Clan isn’t as evil as the rumors make them out to be, for she falls in love with a member of the Black Clan who makes her question everything she’s ever known.

“Flame in the Mist” includes a setting of Japanese culture along with some history, romance and mystery. Ahdieh uses Japanese words throughout the story, but it is never complicated to understand. A dictionary is placed in the back to help define the words, and the context of the word is usually pretty clear when used.

Ahdieh gives the audience an insight of the strife of power between royal family members that would have taken place during the time in which the book is set, along with how women were treated.

The pinch of historicalness in the setting gives the readers a new way of thinking and broadens the readers’ minds of a time period where the culture was different.

The young-adult novel’s plot is easy to follow, and although mystery is involved with Mariko investigating who tried to kill her, the readers are engaged and feel as though they are in the same situation as her.

Mariko reflects how women were treated in a different time period and how she does not fit into the standards of what a woman should be. She uses this to her advantage to change her fate. She is an empowering character who is hard to hate. She does not succumb to what society tells her to do, and she acts on her own regard.

Readers will find the book similar to “Mulan,” but “Flame in the Mist” is enjoyable in its own way.

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)