Published: May 16th 2017 by G. P. Putnam’s sons for Young Readers
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 was a bit wary going into this book because I DNFed TWATD and I wasn’t sure if I just didn’t like the book or Renee Ahdieh’s writing in general. However, I absolutely adored this book! This was a fantastic retelling of Mulan and I am already so excited for the next book!
From the very beginning of the book, I was hooked! It was fast paced from the very beginning and I just absolutely had to know what was going to happen next! The beginning of the book set the pace for the rest of the book and I didn’t feel like it had pacing problems at all!
I think my favourite aspect of this book was the character development – whether it was Mariko or any member of the Black Clan. I loved watching them interacting and how the relationships grew and developed as they got to know each other better. I felt like I could feel the moments of indecision between them and I empathised with all of the characters. I will say that I wasn’t totally on board with the ship that was sailing because I felt like it did’t have enough time to develop considering she was pretending to be a boy… but I feel like it is a ship that I will definitely support by the end of the next book.
I also enjoyed the multiple POV’s within this book. Each and every character had their own voices and they didn’t blend into each other. It was easy to tell who we were reading when the POV just changed. It also helped to give the readers an insight into the other characters and what makes them tick and what makes them do the things they were doing.
The plot was so amazing! There was always something going on, whether in a big way or a little way and I always had the feeling of needing to know what was going to happen next! Whether or not she was going to get caught etc. Also, may I just mention THAT DANG ENDING!!! *Ahem* So much happened, and I was left gobsmacked and I just need to second book already because I NEED to know what is going to happen next!
The world building in the book was beautiful. I was so detailed that I felt completely transported to the world that Ahdieh created. It was easy to get lost in this book and not want to come back!
I absolutely loved this book and I cannot even wait until the next instalment! I definitely need more! I loved each and ever character and the different aspects and back stories that they brought to the book and I cannot wait to revisit them in a re read and to meet them again in the next book! I gave this book 5/5 stars.