Release date: May 16th 2017
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.
I loved The Wrath and the Dawn and The Rose and the Dagger so I was really excited for a new series by Renee Ahdieh. It had the same feel as her previous books while being a whole new story with new, wonderful characters, and an entirely new setting. I fell in love with the world, with Mariko, and with the rebels.
Mariko was one of my favourite characters that I’ve read in a while. Renee Ahdieh has a way of creating amazing female characters who are powerful and feminine and who can hold their own against the male characters. Mariko was tough and very capable of taking care of herself. She was the type of character, flawed, determined to succeed, brave, who makes me want to never leave the world created within the book.
The supporting cast were all great and well-developed. From Mariko’s brother Kenshin, to the Emperor, to the members of the rebel Black Clan, especially Ranmura and Okami. They were all great additions and played off each other well. It lead to amazing character dynamics, which is always one of my favourite things in a book.
The setting and plot were absolutely addicting. It was easy to spot the Mulan retelling but it definitely stood on its own as well. As expected from The Wrath and the Dawn duology, the setting was described in wonderful, vivid detail and the romance was swoon-worthy. It was impossible to put this book down until it was finished, and when it was finished I didn’t want it to be over.
*I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review*