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Author: Renee Ahdieh
Reading Date: March 21st, 2017 to March 29th, 2017
Book Summary: 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.
Book Review: First off, I would like to thank Penguin Random House for allowing me this chance to read the arc for this book.
Meet Mariko. A young woman who has always known that her future has been decided by others. Of course, this changes when her entourage is attacked by the Black Hand. Her handmaid is killed and Mariko, in her fury for revenge, cuts her hair shortly and goes after those who wanted to do her harm and find out who was the one who wanted her dead. She meets the members of the Black Hand and becomes entwined in their world but her identity as a boy is at risk especially when one finds out she is not a he but a young woman.
This book was beautiful in its characters and beautiful in its details. You found yourself transported to a time and a place where samurai and nobility of the feudal era ruled. Where Emperors decided the fate of others and rather than face dishonor, a warrior's honorary death meant suicide.
Mariko is a character who is not only cunning but also flawed. She knows that, unlike her brother, she cannot decide her own future...that her future has always been planned from the moment of birth, but when fate steps in and changes this, she steps into her brother's world (sort of) and seeks revenge against those who wanted to not only kill her but also killed her handmaiden.
I loved, loved this book. I had a hard time having to put it down just to go to work. It enthralled me, pulled me and made me think I was part of the scene watching the characters.
Now I will be looking forward to the next installment to this series. I cannot wait to see what happens with Mariko.
If you are looking for something like Mulan, then this book will definitely be for you.