Review: The Flame in the Mist by Kit Grindstaff

flameinthemistPublished by Delacorte Press
Released April 9, 2013
464 pages
Where I got it: E-galley received from publisher via NetGalley
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Description (from Goodreads):

Fiery-headed Jemma Agromond is not who she thinks she is, and when the secrets and lies behind her life at mist-shrouded Agromond Castle begin to unravel, she finds herself in a chilling race for her life. Ghosts and misfits, a stone and crystals, a mysterious book, an ancient prophecy—all these reveal the truth about Jemma’s past and a destiny far greater and more dangerous than she could have imagined in her wildest fantasies. With her telepathic golden rats, Noodle and Pie, and her trusted friend, Digby, Jemma navigates increasingly dark forces, as helpers both seen and unseen, gather. But in the end, it is her own powers that she must bring to light, for only she has the key to defeating the evil ones and fulfilling the prophecy that will bring back the sun and restore peace in Anglavia.

I had mixed feelings about The Flame in the Mist. It opens with a family conjuring up nasty things in tribute to a dark god as part of a weekly family ritual. However, daughter Jemma can’t create anything dark, and doesn’t fit in with the rest of her family. It turns out that she isn’t really supposed to be there, and that they have evil intentions for her. Together with her rat friends, she battles to escape the castle and the enchanted mist that surrounds the area. Of course, there is a prophecy about her that everybody else seems to know about.

There were a lot of elements I loved about this book. There are creepy child ghosts around the castle and in the mist, and the secondary characters were really enjoyable, especially the rats. A few of the secondary characters were also surprisingly complex, being a mix of both good and bad. I like the mythology behind the story.

Things I didn’t enjoy as much: at times, the story dragged for me and I had a hard time staying engaged. There’s a long time of travel and wandering, and although things happen during Jemma’s travels, those are some of my least favorite kinds of plots. It made the book seem overly long, since it clocks in at well over 400 pages. There are also many fantasy cliches sprinkled throughout, so it sometimes felt like I was reading a book I’d read before.

Still, it’s refreshing whenever I can read a fairly good, solidly fantasy young adult novel without it being an urban fantasy or Twilight ripoff. With a strong ending, The Flame in the Mist won me over at the end.

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