By: Elizabeth Lim
Book #4 (standalone) in Twisted Tales Series
Content Warnings: Violence, blood, themes of death, misogyny
If I were to recommend one Disney book, it would be Reflection by Elizabeth Lim. Lim’s novel is great for fantasy and mythology enthusiasts alike. She describes the setting and characters in such vivid detail for an immersive experience.
Reflection takes a scene from the animated film, changes things around, and creates a wholly different adventure for its disguised female warrior, Mulan. Those who have seen the movie will get a sense of déjà vu once they’re transported to the battle against Shan Yu at the Tung-Shao mountain pass. The twist arrives in the form of a raging sword mortally wounding Captain Shang. Then it’s up to Mulan to travel to the Underworld, Diyu, to prevent Shang from dying. Mulan’s journey enables Lim to delve into Chinese mythology.
King Yama allows Mulan to search for Shang’s spirit with one catch: If she fails to escape Diyu before the sun rises she will remained trapped in the Underworld forever. This adds even more stress to an already perilous quest. But it sure makes for a gripping read! Other important figures also want to challenge Mulan’s resolve, such as Meng Po, who wipes out a person’s memories before incarnation. There’s hundreds of chambers and levels teeming with dangerous demons and gossiping ghosts. There’s traps, puzzles, and tests that will make even the bravest falter.
Fortunately, Mulan is not alone. The proud Shishi, guardian of the Li family, accompanies her along the way. He’s not Mushu but he grew on me for his loyalty, courage and honor. Mulan also gets to converse with Shang more than she ever did in the movie – both as Ping and as herself – which helps solidify their relationship. The pair even get to meet some of their ancestors along the way. I thought the conversation between Shang and his father were especially touching.
To sum it all up, I was thoroughly impressed by Reflection! If you’re a newcomer to Disney’s Twisted Tales series, I recommend picking this installment first. It has a little bit of everything: action, peril, humor, and fluff. It also gets a little deep with its examination of societal and familial expectations, gender roles, and the desire to belong in opposition to finding one’s own path. All in all, it’s a captivating and heartwarming tale many readers can enjoy.
More Musings & Magic
For anyone who’s seen the animated film Mulan, which was your favorite animal companion? I love Mushu’s “vibrancy.” Yet I think the Fa’s family horse, Khan, is pretty great as well! So much expression from one who didn’t get to talk.
Please keep the magic alive and share your comments below!