Reflection: A Twisted Tale by Elizabeth Lim

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Lim, Elizabeth. Reflection: A Twisted Tale. Disney Press, 2018. 400p. ISBN 9781484781296. $17.99. HS MS ***

As in the Disney animated motion picture, Mulan saves the day by creating an avalanche that hinders a Hun invasion into China. But in this version Mulan’s quick thinking stops the Huns dead in their tracks and leaves Captain Shang mortally wounded. She must go into the underworld to stop him from dying. There Mulan, disguised as Ping, makes a deal with Yama (in this title “King” Yama) the overseer of Hell/Purgatory and the judge of the dead to save Shang before sunrise or never leave the underworld.

While this title has a fine bit of action that helps move the plot along, the biggest problem is that it lacks nuance. Especially in the beginning chapters, everything has a two-dimensional feel. It is difficult to get any real read on how accurate the religion and depiction of the underworld is. The story of Mulan is part of Chinese mythology but Buddhism is a religion and for many it is distinctly NOT mythology. If readers do not already have this context then they might end up assuming they are learning about Chinese Buddhism from pieces of this story and that may or may not be accurate. Readers not already fans of Mulan will want to sit this one out, but this saccharine title is acceptable for middle school shelves.

Carla Avitabile, San Mateo Public Library

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