Review: Flame In The Mist // More Like LOVE in the AIR (With This Book)

I finished reading Flame in the Mist a while ago and still not over it!!

I love this book, if you can’t tell by the obvious title of this post. FIVE out of FIVE stars.

[the cover links to goodreads]

But first, I want to talk about the Mulan retelling part of this book. If you don’t really care, you can just skip this part to the review!

There was a controversy (I don’t know if it would be called that, but whatever) and basically it consisted of this:

  • Having a cross dressing girl doesn’t necessitate that it’s a Mulan retelling.
  • The Mulan retelling part was used as a marketing ploy
  • The only other connections it’s a Mulan retelling is because they both come from asian cultures
  • That it’s offensive to Chinese and other cultures.
    • This came from a VERY interesting post! I recommend you read it here.

Personally, I haven’t found it offensive or anything (I’m Chinese, which I don’t think I’ve

mentioned before) but I don’t really have a perspective on what is discussed in the post I linked you to. Because I wasn’t alive during those times and I live in North America and never learned about it??

And yes, I suppose that it would be a marketing ploy, but people would still buy the books because a) diversity! and b) Leigh Bardugo. Is there more to say?

So I also read another post talking about how it’s not a retelling, per se, but more of an inspired story. When I read the book I definitely saw some parallels between the book and the movie, and I totally recognized them!

But for now, I’m going to say that this book was INSPIRED by Mulan, not a RETELLING. So, yes, I said that it was a retelling in my review on Goodreads but I take it back!


The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.


I loved Mariko so much. This basically describes her:

  • intelligent
  • able to read people
  • feminist
  • fiery

And she attacks people?? Like YES PLEASE I WANT FIGHTING. Ok, more info: her character was really well developed! It was an action story but also a “discovering yourself” type of story, and I love how she finds friends and kind of has a “crew” by the end of the book.

I especially love how she’s not always good at everything. She actually has to train and work hard in order to become better; she’s not just “from the start of the book” able to defeat everyone/win. She actually fails quite a lot (just like me… and everyone that ever existed), which was kind of refreshing to see. And another really funny point is this: she actually didn’t mean to infiltrate their clan!

And Ōkami! He and Mulan have a kind of hate-to-love relationship, and it was well developed! They had so many jabs at each other, and the banter was A++

(Banter almost always guarantees happiness from me)

Another great part of this was the friendship vibes?? Mulan and the other members of the Black Clan actually become really close (well, mostly with one other person in specific) and it was fun seeing the protection feelings of friendship. Although she infiltrated their Clan the inner war she had with herself was really well described. I’m sure everyone has felt this way before.

Renee Ahdieh’s mind is great, as well, because the plot did NOT fail to impress me! There were so many plot twists that left my mind like this:

And it was so absorbing! I read this book in one go* I can’t say more about the plot except that it was EXCITING!

Oh, and I forgot to mention the sibling-ness! This is dual narrated by Kenshin (sorry, forgot to mention that) and he’s ALSO a very tactical person. He’s extremely good at fighting and tracking and I could totally relate to his sibling mentality. As I got into his head I ended up rooting for him to find Mariko as well at some points! I love how much he cares about his sister.

The writing.. was beautiful! I actually read someone’s (I think Emily May?? I’m not sure, though) review where they said that her writing was too exaggerated and I can definitely see their point. A couple of times I was confused as to what was going on and had to go back and check what was happening but pffft that happens to me ALL THE TIME. I still really liked the writing and although it WAS kind of hard for me to get into during the first 5% that was probably because I was reading it on my phone… while walking to my sister’s school with SCORCHING** HEAT.

Also, the diversity?? I’m so glad that there have been more books with asian MC’s and characters because YAY.

*Which isn’t surprising since I read rather fast but HUMOR ME PLEASE.

**accurate temperature. what do you mean I get hot super easily

[goodreads review] it’s slightly… different?? I had a LIST review which was much shorter.

I think the point of this review is: you should go and read this book immediately and TELL ME YOUR THOUGHTS because I THOUGHT IT WAS BEAUTIFUL.

Have YOU read any of Renee Ahdieh’s books? Because I HAVE AND THEY ARE SO GOOD. What do you feel about the Mulan retelling interpretation? Are you fangirling over the cover? Because I AM.



  1. THIS WAS SUCH A LOVELY REVIEW!!! That Gif of Barney had me laughing out loud! XD
    And I think what happened with Flame in the Mist is that people heard “inspired by Mulan” and maybe assumed that it was a Mulan retelling! You know, one person says it and then another one picks it up and then it just spreads! I’ve seen a lot of Booktubers label this as a Mulan retelling too!


    Wow, I was excited for this book before but now I’m just OVER THE MOON and I need it in my hands now!!! Fantastic review ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. TYSM!! ❤❤
      AND YES, IT TOOK A WHILE FOR ME TO CHOOSE THE GIF (AKA 12.4 SECONDS BECAUSE I AM IMPATIENT) Yeah, I originally thought this book was a Mulan retelling at first because a bunch of reviews said it was, but then I looked into it more!!


      Liked by 1 person

          1. I wish Book Outlet had like free or at least CHEAP international shipping because the books are so incredibly cheap! But then I go to check-out and the shipping costs are literally thrice as high as the books! Literally 80$ or so like WHYYYYYY

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, I hadn’t heard about the inspired by Mulan/Mulan retelling controversy! But I don’t keep up with bookish news haha. First of all, I’m just feeling really cool right now because YOUR BLOGGING VOICE IS SO RELATABLE. (As in, our blogging voices are quite similar and I just LOVE IT.) Second, YOU’RE CHINESE??? I always love meeting other Asian bloggers!!! *waves* Hello there, I’m an American born to two Thai parents. (I say that because I’m not exactly Thai-American as in one parent is Thai and the other is American. XD )

    OKAY NOW ABOUT YOUR REVIEW. It was lovely and now I want to read this because HELLO she attacks people??? Also witty banter will sell it. YAS ASIAN REP and lovely review!!!

    That was a really short comment on your review but I honestly don’t know what to say. XD


    I read this book in one go*


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeahhhh well I don’t know if it’s a controversy or not lol I just searched up ‘Is Flame in the Mist a Mulan retelling’ and a bunch of posts popped up talking about it so I just assumed XD

      I’m also American born to two Chinese people! 😀

      And IKR if anything has witty banter it guarantees like at least three stars from me XD and THANK YOU SO MUCH

      And OMG I didn’t realize that I left you hanging 😂😂
      I’ll put it there I PROMISE
      (for now, let’s say that it was on purpose XD)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. BASICALLY I LOVE SCREAMING FANGIRL WITTY BLOGGING VOICES. XD Like Cait @ Paper Fury. Omg she is #goals.

        Well, it has to be GOOD witty banter. Because some witty banter is not actually witty. XD


        Liked by 1 person

        1. I CAN AGREE TO THAT 😄 I LOVE READING (HEARING??) SCREAMING VOICES is it weird that whenever I read caps I imagine people screaming/talking super loudly?? IT’S WEIRD ISN’T IT. And YESS I love her blog!

          And that IS a good point. I love it when I actually laugh out loud (apparently I don’t laugh that much while reading lol)

          YOUR WELCOME.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. AHHH I loved The Wrath and the Dawn SO MUCH, and I’ve been so excited to read this one ever since I heard of its existence haha. I hadn’t known it wasn’t a retelling of Mulan though and the controversy??? THIS IS NEWS. Thanks for that bit of info haha. I’m so glad to see you loved the book though!! Banter is my absolute FAVOURITE omg so that makes me super happy. ❤ I can't wait to read this and lovely review!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AHHH I know right?? Renee Ahdieh is like the queen of diverse books! (And probably also five other authors..)
      Yeah, well, I’m considering it to be a controversy because I SEARCHED IT UP and there were like a bunch of posts and also apparently a bunch of people on Goodreads were mad?? AND SAME THOUGH. BUT I ALWAYS LIKE BOOKISH NEWS. Who won the Emmys/Super Bowl/literally every other popular award thing?? pfft why would I know a thing like that?


      You NEED to read this and also TYSM for the nice words!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Right?! Ahah there are soooo many diverse author queens which is so fab. 🙈
        Oh wow! I had no idea. Haha SAME.
        Ikrrrr 😍😍 I just started this book today actually and I’m already in loveee but the banter hasn’t started yet *cries* I can’t wait to read more of it!!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’M SO EXCITED FOR THIS I CAN BARELY WAIT.😍 It sounds amazing. Even though I am hearing a lot of people saying it’s not really a Mulan retelling, and like that’s fair?! I mean inspired is cool too! I did think it was odd that it was being called a Mulan retelling but set in Japan. But I highly doubt the author meant to be offensive or anything. I LOOOOVED her other book The Wrath and the Dawn so so so much. 😍 *flails happily* I’m glad this book was such a solid read for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AGHH YOU NEED TO READ IT SOON!! It is SOO good 😊
      Yeah I agree! I actually didn’t read the full blurb at first (I just went “RENEE AHDIEH?? GIVE IT TO ME” and then assumed it was a Mulan retelling ’cause all the reviews. But yeah, it’s good that it’s probably cleared up??
      And YES IT WAS SO GOOD and the sequel was equally as good!!


  5. YESSSS I LOVE THE WRATH & THE DAWN. It’s one of my all-time favorite retellings, and retellings are a genre I tend not to like. I’m in queue for Flame in the Mist at my library, though, and I’m excited to get my hands on it. Your review was quite interesting to read; I’ve not heard of the controversy before, but I’ll definitely keep it mind while reading!

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

    Liked by 1 person

  6. 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! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yeeey!!! I am so happy to read this review!! I was going to get the book anyway because… THAT COVER!!! But I was getting less and less excited about what I was reading about it…
    But this makes it sound again so amazing!!
    I absolutely love books with friendship vibes! They always make me so happy! Joining that to hate-to-love stories?! Yap, I am getting this!!
    Lovely, lovely review!

    Liked by 1 person

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