Parents' Guide to

Flame in the Mist

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Riveting Mulan-themed adventure set in feudal Japan.

Book Renee Ahdieh Fantasy 2017
Flame in the Mist Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 12+

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much consumerism
age 17+


This is not the book for audiences who don’t already know about the evils of this world. Among other things this book mentions nudity and sex, it also heavily implies rape in the first 40 pages. It mentions it again a few times along the way. The violence is a bit graphic. I would honestly not recommend for anyone under 16/17 years old. On the other hand, it is fine for adult audiences who enjoy historical fiction. The plot of the book itself is a decent representation of the “girl disguised herself as a guy to enter a guy-only militia” trope.

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much sex

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (2 ):

Renée Ahdieh once again serves up a lush, page-turning historical fantasy led by a fierce female protagonist who's on a mysterious, life-changing journey that teaches her about the world and herself. Mariko, like Shahrazad in The Wrath & the Dawn, believes she's on a particular quest for the truth -- and to defend her family -- but she ends up discovering there's so much more to the story than she initially thought. Mariko is strong-willed, curious, opinionated, and liberated far beyond what's expected of an upper-class girl engaged to royalty. But she's also sheltered and unaware of just how oppressive the emperor's reign is for the poor villagers who do everything for their lords. It's a pleasure to see her slowly question what she's held true -- particularly about the Black Clan and their intentions.

Although not as overtly romantic at first, the love story in Flame in the Mist becomes quite fiery in the last act. The suitor is easily identifiable early on, but readers have to get through dozens of chapters of him verbally sparring with "Lord Lackbeard" (what the Black Clan members call clean-shaven, small "Takeo") for sparks to finally fly. At one point, before Mariko is revealed to be a young woman, her love interest even confides in his best friend that Takeo makes him "question everything about himself." Told in alternating perspectives, the book focuses primarily on Mariko, Okami, and Kenshin. Fantasy fans should note that those elements are limited to some shape-shifting and supernatural gifts that characters possess. Most of the story is rooted in an alternate but realistic version of the times of the samurai. Readers who love rich, descriptive language, historical details, and feminist heroines will find themselves immersed in this Mulan-meets-Princess Bride title.

Book Details

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