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Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh

Flame in the Mist by Renée AhdiehFlame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh
Series: Flame in the Mist #1
Published by Putnam Juvenile on May 16th, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 416
Goodreads

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn, comes a sweeping, action-packed YA adventure set against the backdrop of Feudal Japan where Mulan meets Tamora Pierce.

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor's favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family's standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.
Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she's quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she's ever known.

3.5 Stars

Perhaps she was wind. Wind could whip a fire into a frenzy. Make a mighty oak bow. Lash water into the mist.

Having loved Ahdieh’s debut The Wrath and the Dawn, her new project had been thrown onto my TBR before it was even announced what its content was going to be. When I heard it was a story with a feudal Japanese-inspired setting, pitched as  a mash-up of 47 Ronin and my favourite Disney Mulan, I was beyond excited for Flame in the Mist.

Though I can genuinely say I liked the book, Flame in the Mist did not reach the expectations that I had built up for this anticipated release. The book’s strong suit was its character dynamics, its subtle feminist touch, and its world-building. I’m also a tremendous fan of the girl-disguised-as-boy narrative. However, there’s a lot of potential for improvement for almost every element of the book, be it the depth of the characters, the substance of the plot, or the storytelling. Unfortunately, the storyline was unoriginal and shared unmistakable similarities with Ahdieh’s previous work, and I could have lived with that had the plot not been so painfully predictable sometimes.

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The Rose & the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh

The Rose & the Dagger by Renée AhdiehThe Rose & the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath & the Dawn #2
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on April 26th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Goodreads

The darker the sky, the brighter the stars.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

The saga that began with The Wrath and the Dawn takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again.

3.5 Stars

It was because they were two parts of a whole. He did not belong to her. And she did not belong to him. It was never about belonging to someone. It was about belonging together.

This book was so difficult for me to rate and review for a couple of reasons:
1. I loved The Wrath & the Dawn and it was one of my favourite books of 2015 so I was extremely pumped for The Rose & the Dagger and had really high expectations.
2. I was in a reading slump when I read this and I never know how much that impacts the way I perceive a book.
3. This book took me forever to read. More than a month if I remember correctly which is very unusual for me, especially when I didn’t have university during that time.

Having said that, I did really enjoy The Rose & the Dagger and I wouldn’t call it a disappointment but it did leave me feeling…underwhelmed. In hindsight I now wonder, if perhaps I remember TWatD as being better than it actually was or if this book was in fact not as good as the first one. I don’t know, but as it stands, I enjoyed The Rose & the Dagger and consider it a worthy follow-up, but I didn’t love it.

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The Wrath & the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

The Wrath & the Dawn by Renée AhdiehThe Wrath & the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath & the Dawn #1
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on May 12th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 388
Goodreads

One Life to One Dawn.

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad's dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph's reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she'd imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It's an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid's life as retribution for the many lives he's stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, The Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end.

5 Stars

Dear Ms. Ahdieh,

I’m unsure of how you did it. Whatever magic you used to pry open my brain and look inside, I’d like to have it as well. Because this book was written for me, it is, in many ways, my dream book and encompasses everything I want in a novel. So, I would really like to know how you did it.

You may have other people fooled but this is not a debut novel. This CAN’T be a debut novel because, well, THE WRITING IS PERFECT.

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