'Reflection: A Twisted Tale'
A Review of the Novel 'Reflection'
I'm an avid reader, often looking for books that are a little different and sometimes out of my comfort zone. The last book I finished is called Reflection: A Twisted Tale by Elizabeth Lim. This is the latest in a series of Twisted Tale novels released by Disney all about some of our favorite Disney films but with a new spin. What made this one so interesting is that unlike As Old as Time, this particular book made a drastic twist in the tale of Mulan.
It opens up during a critical moment in her story. The battle with Shan Yu in the Tung Shao Pass is about to come to an end. Captain Li Shang has Yao targeting the final cannon on the leader of the Huns in hopes that it will help end the war or at least protect the Emperor long enough to regain his army's strength. But Mulan, who has used her cleverness to deceive all these men into thinking she is Ping, has a different plan. She grabs the cannon and makes a run directly for Shan Yu. She fires the cannon at the mountain and causes an avalanche.
We all know this part from the movie. Here is where it gets interesting. Shang catches up to Mulan just as Shan Yu is about to swing his sword at her and instead of a shallow wound in Mulan's abdomen that would ultimately reveal to the physician, the Chinese army, and all of Mulan's new friends, Shang takes the hit. Though it is not known how deeply the wound would affect him until after the avalanche has passed and the remainder of the Chinese army attempts its safe passage down the Tung Shao Pass.
It is discovered that Shang's wound from Shan Yu is much worse than the one Mulan would have received bringing him to the borders of life and death. Guilt overcomes Mulan and she knows that China would be lost without Shang's leadership so she does everything she can to tend to his wounds on their way to the Imperial City. It would not be enough. The night Shang is injured Mulan meets the spirit of General Li who is watching over his son's body, praying that he will survive, knowing he will not live through the night.
Mulan is desperate and approaches the translucent blue figure to ask what she can do. Proud of this soldier, General Li says that if Mulan can save Shang's spirit before sunrise, then he will be able to return to his body well and alive.
At this point, Mulan wakes from her dream as if no time has passed and is greeted by The Great Stone Lion of the Li Family ShiShi who will journey with her to King Yama and the underworld, Diyu, in hopes of saving Shang's spirit and China.
This is a tale of intrigue and mystery with more plot and deception than the animated film could provide. We see more into Mulan's internal struggle with herself about being the perfect daughter but also being an honorable person. We learn more about her relationship and closeness to Shang and see a trust and partnership grow even stronger than that of a soldier and commanding officer.
ShiShi adds a new type of element into the story, being a true guardian but still having little social graces and thus adding a comedic element. Learning about ancient Chinese traditions with Diyu and more about the ancestors and how important they are even in today's Chinese culture adds more of a realistic feel to this story. And finally getting more into Mulan's head, not only seeing her guilt but feeling it, seeing her struggle in coming to terms with accepting who she is and her limitations were and still is enlightening and relatable for it is something we all feel. However, choosing to overcome her limitations and do the impossible by bringing a spirit back from the underworld is inspiring.
All in all, this book gets a 9/10. It was fun, interesting, and enjoyable. It was full of great detail, adventure, mystery, intrigue, and a hint of a romance that makes it enjoyable for both boys and girls. However, it does get a little complicated with some of the Chinese words and a few chapters are a little harder to imagine and might benefit from an artist's rendering to help see what the writer intended. I highly recommend this book to not only all Disney lovers but lovers of the supernatural and world cultures.