Flame in the Mist by Renee Adhieh
There was only ever one expectation for Mariko, a prominent samurai's daughter: that she would marry. Her twin brother was the one trained in the way of the warrior while Mariko was left to nurture her love of science and invention in secret. But on her way to the imperial city, where she was to meet her betrothed for the first time, her convoy was attacked and everything changes. The assassins kill everyone -- or so they think. Despite almost being burned alive, Mariko escapes.
Driven by vengeance, she flees the forest and seeks out her would-be assassins, the Black Clan, joining their ranks disguised as a peasant boy. She's determined to discover who ordered her death and why -- and to make them pay. Little does she expect to find a place for herself among the Black Clan. A place where her talents and intellect are appreciated. Little does she expect to fall in love. And never did she expect to have to choose between them and everything she's ever known. But when the secrets of the imperial city, the Black Clan, and her family converge, choose is exactly what she must do.
Flame in the Mist is the first in a new series by Renee Ahdieh. Set in a mythical medieval feudal Japan, it follows the story of the twins of a high ranking feudal samurai as they are starting to come into their own. The older male twin Hattori Kenshin is known as the Dragon of Kai for his courage and skill as warrior. The younger sister Hattori Mariko is chosen to marry into the Imperial family. While Kenshin is popular and well regarded, Mariko is often seen as too intelligent and too blunt to conform to society's expectations.
After Mariko's convoy is ambushed and all her attendants and guards murdered, she runs away into the woods. Mariko undertakes to infiltrate the closed rogue group, the Black Clan. Before the attack, Mariko had been pampered and protected. But with her world and resources gone, she finds that she's able to think on her feet and to save herself from dangerous situations. Mariko is an engaging heroine with her commitment to the Code of Bushido, her creativity and resourcefulness, her determination to be honorable while being forced to remain in disguise.
Mariko pretends to be a young, penniless boy with scientific and military skills. Okami, one of the leaders of the Black Clan, doesn't know what he finds unsettling about the new recruit "Sanada Takeo" and he fluctuates between distrusting him to wanting to give Takeo and his inventions a chance. Takeo/Mariko is surprised to find friendship and companionship among the Black Clan as well as a greater sense of belonging than she had as the daughter and heiress of the Hattori clan. But Mariko must push past her discomfort and the sense that she is betraying her friends in order to discover who betrayed the Hattori, who is behind the plot to have her killed and what their true goal is.
Flame in the Mist is a deeply engrossing, fun adventure where honor, loyalty and identity force good people into heart wrenching situations. Politics, martial arts, and the code of the samurai all give this story an added level of complexity. Highly recommended!
About the Author:
Renée Ahdieh is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling The Wrath and the Dawn and The Rose and the Dagger. In her spare time, she likes to dance salsa and collect shoes. She is passionate about all kinds of curry, rescue dogs, and college basketball. The first few years of her life were spent in a high-rise in South Korea; consequently, Renée enjoys having her head in the clouds. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband and their tiny overlord of a dog.