BOOK REVIEW: Journey Through the Underworld in “Reflection: A Twisted Tale” by Elizabeth Lim
Reflection is the fourth book in the Twisted Tales series. At the time of writing, the series consists of seven titles published over the past four years, with the seventh newly released this summer and the eighth due in early 2020. Each of the novels is stand-alone, meaning you can read whichever stories intrigue you the most in whichever order you feel like. For reviewing purposes, I will be reading the full series in chronological order of publication, and I will be completely honest and spoiler-free in letting you know what I thought!
Let’s get down to business. If you’re unfamiliar with the series, each novel offers a spin on a favorite Disney classic, twisting the tales we know so well and exploring how the characters would react should an element of their story go astray. In this installment, the twist happens at that point where Mulan defeats the Huns by causing an avalanche on the mountain. In the midst of the commotion, Captain Li Shang is mortally wounded. In order to save him, Mulan must travel to the underworld, under the reign of King Yama, to rescue Shang and bring him back to China.
Reflection is the first novel in the Twisted Tales series to be written by Elizabeth Lim, with previous titles penned by Liz Braswell and Jen Calonita. However, as with the previous installments in the Twisted Tales saga, this novel is jam-packed with action and adventure, with Lim’s descriptive style perfectly weaving Chinese underworld and cultural mythology into the already-established character lines of Mulan. The result really is a beautiful read. Of course, Mulan (still undercover as Ping) is our powerful protagonist, with Captain Shang by her side throughout. Mushu, everyone’s favourite dragon (not lizard), also makes a brief appearance, but disappointingly isn’t present throughout most of the novel. Instead, we are joined by the captain’s family guardian: the great lion ShiShi. Whilst nowhere near as sassy or scrawny as Mushu, ShiShi does serve as a wise and lovable guide through the underworld. Which doesn’t really sound like the kind of place to which you’d want to travel alone, even if you are as swift as a coursing river. Similarly to Once Upon a Dream, the action/adventure narrative follows our heroes on a lengthy journey through countless action scenes, with demons, bandit ghosts, family ancestors and more to battle along their way through the levels of King Yama’s realm.
It is worth saying that, at well over 400 pages long, Reflection is a particularly long read. Varying levels of humor and tension throughout were enough to keep me entertained, but for a novel in the Young Adult audience bracket this was quite a lengthy one. However, it did stay true to the movie (and true to your heart!), without as many gut-wrenching moments where the characters you knew and loved were being ripped away in the twist (we all remember A Whole New World,don’t we?)
Will Mulan be able to reveal herself as a woman? Will Shang make it back to China alive? When will my reflection show who I am inside? You’ll have to grab a copy of Reflection to find out!
In the meantime, check out my previous review of the series: Book One: A Whole New World, in which Jafar gains reign of Agrabah, Book Two: Once Upon a Dream, where Aurora is finally given a voice, and Book Three: As Old as Time, which sheds new light on Belle’s backstory. Next up on my list, we’ll be journeying under the sea to explore a twist to Ariel’s story, so stay tuned for that review. Have you read any of the Twisted Tales series yet? Let us know what you thought!