Author: Elizabeth Lim
Publication Date: March 27, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, Retelling
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?
I’ve loved the story of Mulan for as long as I can remember. It’s always been my favorite Disney movie, so when I saw this book on a shelf in Target last year I spazzed out and nearly sprinted to the check out. And then it sat on my shelf, where I stared at it longingly for a year before finally getting myself together enough to read it. And I am SO. GLAD. I finally did. I had really high expectations for this book and it surpassed all of them! It’s for sure going to be one of my favorite reads of 2019.
There are so many things that brought this story together in an absolutely perfect way, not the least of which is the fact that Elizabeth Lim knows her stuff. Not only is she Asian herself, she has a degree in East Asian studies. It was clear the whole time I was reading that she had a massive knowledge base of Diyu and had watched the Mulan movie over and over. Every now and then she’d drop a line from the movie in a clever way and I lived for those little nuggets.
I was so relieved that Lim didn’t make the book all about a romance between Mulan and Shang. She stuck true to the heart of the movie and kept the book focused on finding your inner strength, honor, and friendship – although we do get a few flirty bits towards the end, just like in the movie. My biggest worry going into the book was that it would be turned into a book about Mulan trying to pull Shang out of the Underworld because she was in love with him and blah blah blah, but Lim adds layers of complexity on top of any feelings Mulan may or may not be having. There isn’t anything about it I would change (except the fact that there won’t be a sequel coming).
I can’t recommend this book enough!