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 Black Clan and track 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.
Nothing is quite what it seems in this book. All the characters have secrets upon secrets. They all have their own agenda. The story takes all sorts of twists and turn. Some of the characters motives are unclear and I was left with many unanswered questions at the end which I hope will be answered in the sequel.
Mariko is considered odd by those around her. She is smart and opinionated which society frowns upon from a woman. Her family wishes she would conform to society’s expectations but Mariko is too stubborn for that. I like that Mariko is strong and sticks to her beliefs but sometimes her stubborn attitude is annoying. She can be too opinionated on things she doesn’t understand. I like that she eventually starts to realise how sheltered a life she had and she dosn’t know it all. She discoversthat her family isn’t as honourable as she thought and sometime people do the wrong thing(unhouable) thing for the right reasons.
Her brother kenshin was a rather dull character. He was almost emotionally void except for random spurts of anger. As much as I realise the parts from his point of view were necessary to the story i wish we could have seen them from a different characters point of view. Maybe one of the royals. The royals agenda in this story are the most confusing. They all seem like horrible people and play their card close to their chests. I hope we get a better understanding of them all in the sequel.
Okami was my favourite character. He lives a lie but is also really honest. He is dangerous and he knows it. The interactions between him and Ranmaru were great. When he was confused about his feelings towards Mariko disguised as a boy were fantastic. All the black characters were great and have hidden depth. They all have much more to them than is on the surface.
The ending was fantastic and I can’t wait for the sequel.