Reflection * A twisted tale – Elizabeth Lim

What if Mulan had to travel to the Underworld?

When Captain Shang is mortally wounded by Shan Yu in battle, Mulan must travel to the Underworld, Diyu, in order to save him from certain death. But King Yama, the ruler of Diyu, is not willing to give Shang up easily. With the help of Shang’s great lion guardian ShiShi, Mulan must traverse Diyu to find Shang’s spirit, face harrowing obstacles, and leave by sunrise–or become King Yama’s prisoner forever. Moreover, Mulan is still disguised as the soldier called Ping, wrestling with the decision to reveal her true identity to her closest friend. Will Mulan be able to save Shang before it’s too late? Will he ever be able to trust her again? Or will she lose him–and be lost in the Underworld–forever?

Mulan was starting to get used to the stark scenery changes that happened whenever they passed through one of King Yama’s special portals. But when she pushed open the door, she wasn’t prepared to arrive inside a rather peaceful and quiet temple.

Golden-eyed green dragons swirled around the columns, and round yellow lanterns swung from the tiered, tiled roofs. In the center of the temple was an enormous gold statue of King Yama. Yama’s pupils alone were bigger than cabbages, and his beard glistened, clearly newly polished—but its size and opulence weren’t what struck Mulan as strange.

“I’ve never seen King Yama smile,” ShiShi muttered, frowning at the grinning statue and echoing her thoughts. “I’m guessing this statue was sculpted before the gods tasked him with reigning over the Underworld.”

REFLECTION is part of the Twisted Tales series that Disney has put out, in which the corporation asks, “What if…?” hypotheticals that put spins on their original retellings of the story and then hire out young adult authors to write them. Most of the books are written by Liz Braswell, but they actually got a Chinese author to write the Chinese story.

The story reminded me of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Euridice but this time, with Chinese characters and Chinese gods. While I enjoyed the portrayal of the Chinese underworld and the trials Mulan had to undergo, at times the pacing was inconsistent and the middle section in particular got kind of tedious, although it picked up again by the end.

Good parts: it’s a very good read, about love and honour and family. For Mushu fans, sorry to disappoint. He only plays a minor role in the book, but the parts he is in are solidly written.

Great story for Mulan fans and general Disney Fans.

Bad points: none really, other than it’s pretty much YA read and I’m no longer in that category 🙂

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