Simply Nicollette reviews - books, movies, television shows, etc. with slight spoilers. I try my best to review without giving away too much of the story.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First off, I'll be sharing light spoilers, seriously nothing huge but just in case you want absolutely nothing spoiled for you then I would come back to read this another time! :) Now, I'm convinced that I will read anything and everything Renee Ahdieh writes. Flame in the Mist WAS another gem but.. I just wanted more. If this book was at least 50 pages longer then I think the plot/characters could've been fleshed out more. And I would've been able to connect with them and their story more easily.

It honestly took me awhile to get into this book. . . Mariko quickly becomes determined to find out the truth behind her attempted murder and ends up in the notorious Black Clan's encampment. And this was when I finally started connecting with the story.

"When he spat at her, she punched him again.
For all those times a man had caused her to feel fear. For all those times she'd been made to think something was wrong with her. For all those times she'd been forced to believe a girl was somehow less than a boy."

I really enjoyed Mariko's character and how intelligent she was. I loved her curiosity for the world, even if it did make reading through her thoughts a little hard for me. Seriously, it took me awhile to keep up with the girl and her questions. But that's also what made her so strong, how much she truly wanted to learn from everything around her, and how she was never afraid to ask those tough questions.

Another strong female character was Yumi. She stood up for herself as a woman in a different way than Mariko, but with just as much power as her, "There is such strength in being a woman. But it is a strength you must choose for yourself. No one can choose it for you. We can bend the wind to our ear if we would only try."

This book is so damn empowering. Even the men part of the Black Clan were powerful in spreading the message of women being just as strong as men.

"Your father murdered mine in cold blood. Return that sword to its rightful owner."
"Return my bride."
"A girl is not a sword. And no price is worth that trade."

I really enjoyed the time Mariko spent with the Black Clan. I don't want to say too much, but I loved the sense of family within that part of the story. There were times when I wanted more out of the little interactions we did see, though. More laughs, more love in the little moments. Again, that comes with wishing this book was just a little bit longer. . . I fell hard for two of the men, Ranmaru and Okami, "The only power any man has over you is the power you give him." I FREAKING LOVE THEM.

"You are first and foremost a person. A reckless, foolish person, but a person nonetheless. If I ever say you are not permitted to do something, rest assured that the last reason I would ever say so would be because you are a girl."

I seriously hope everyone falls in love with Okami.
I mean how can you not love him when he spits stuff like that to Mariko?? O.M.G. He was such a great support to her and he felt like her equal the entire book. Sure, he was strong. But his weaknesses were Mariko's strengths and vise versa, they completely balanced one another out.
And the romance was perfect. Renee never fails in making me swooooooon.

"Don't have expectations of me. Don't look at me and think you should be seeing something else."
"I've never looked at you and expected anything."
"Liar. You see me. Just as I see you."
"You see nothing," Mariko grumbled.
"I see you," he said softly. "Exactly as you are."

I don't want to give away any more of the story but overall it was really great. Lots of other characters besides the ones I mentioned, such as, Mariko's brother - Kenshin (I actually enjoyed their sibling relationship, reminded me of my own). And they were all fun. The only downfall for me was the fact that I needed more, especially with our main characters.. I think the sequel will give me more answers so I'm looking forward to that.
And Renee Ahdieh's writing is still stunning. I can't compare this book with TWATD because they are completely different. Not in a bad way, but they're hard to connect with one another..

"Her body was not for sale. It did not belong to her parents to sell to the highest bidder. Nor did it belong to Minamoto Raiden or to any other man."

SO MUCH GREATNESS!! A solid read and perfect for fans of fantasy books! :)

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