Mariko is the daughter of a famous samurai. She knows that she is destined to marry someone whom she has been betrothed to for years, the emperor’s son. At the age of 17, she is on her way to meet him for the first time, but on the way her group of traveling servants and friends gets attacked. Everyone was supposed to be murdered, but one of Mariko’s loyal servants stepped in front of her to take an arrow that had been meant for her. As the bandits set the camp on fire and she plays dead, she realizes that the Black Clan has been hired to kill her. After narrowly escaping the fire, the first person that she thinks is trying to help her actually tries to attack her. She realizes that although she can protect herself, traveling as a girl is simply too dangerous, so she cuts off her hair, binds her chest, and puts on male peasant clothing. She wants to infiltrate the Black Clan in order to attack them and kill them like they did to the people that she had known all her life in their vicious attack. However, when she sees the true strength of the Clan, she knows that she cannot simply run in there and kill everyone. She must create a good plan in order to even put a dent into their forces with her attack. While posing as a Clan member, she learns some new things about the truth of the society that she lives in, and what was even hidden from her during her time as princess.
Kenshin is Mariko’s brother. He sees the aftermath of the attack, but after seeing some cut off hair left in a bush and finding Mariko’s hairpiece, he knows that she is still alive. He will stop at nothing in order to save his sister in hiding.
This book might just be the most interesting modern princess story that I have ever read. There was some romance in the story, but it did not define the story at all and it did not interfere with the quality of Mariko’s character. She stayed a strong, independent, even fearless main female character throughout the story. She doesn’t know that her brother is looking for her, but even if she did she knew that she would have to get through the situation herself in order not to endanger her family in any way from the dangerous clan members. She creates plans for escape by herself and plans for attack by herself. She never gives up, thinking that it is just too much stress or too much work. She carries the thoughts of her beloved servants dying in her heart throughout the whole story, but she still wants to know more about what is occurring in the clan that has affected her life in such a way.
I have never read a book by this author previously but now I am in love with her. I did not get this advanced copy by any particular site, it just so happens that my school library sometimes has advanced copies available from time to time through some service that I don’t know the name of. However, in the six days that we have until official release, I hope that I can preorder this book so I can keep it and I hope to spread the word about it. It is going to be a brand new series, and I even regret having the advanced copy in a way because it just means that I have to wait longer in order to read the second book!
Overall Rating: 6/5