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The Wild Orchid: A Retelling of The Ballad of Mulan

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  6,153 ratings  ·  524 reviews
"Once upon a Time" Is Timeless

Wielding a sword as deftly as an embroidery needle, Mulan is unlike any other girl in China. When the emperor summons a great army, each family must send a male to fight, tom-boyish Mulan is determined to spare her aging father and bring her family honor, so she disguises herself and answers the call.

But Mulan never expects to find a friend,
Paperback, 224 pages
Published February 10th 2009 by Simon Pulse
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Hannah M. J. I like to think of this series as an anthology of classic stories. You can toss them all into a bag, pull one out, and never have to read any of the o…moreI like to think of this series as an anthology of classic stories. You can toss them all into a bag, pull one out, and never have to read any of the others in order to enjoy the one. (less)

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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  6,153 ratings  ·  524 reviews

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Jul 18, 2008 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
enqi ☁️✨
Hua Mulan's tale is renowned among my people. I am of Singaporean nationality and of Chinese race, and therefore it is a part of our culture and tradition. Where I grew up, every child will undoubtedly come to know of the fearless, brave female warrior who disguised herself as a boy and went to war in her father's place, ultimately saving all of China.

Mulan's story is a gem, a diamond in the rough, especially in this patriarchal society where women are believed to be less capable than men. Yet
Oct 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Cara by: Valerie
Shelves: fantasy, fairy-tales
Now I am an "official" I guess you could say fan now. I've read a substantial amount of these books, and now I have to read them all. Dokey is the author that writes most of these retellings and for a good reason. She's excellent at setting the stage but for some reason at the climax you just want more, but I'm happy to report that this one felt totally satisfying.

Here we have the story of Mulan. I thought that it was an interesting idea to put this in the fairy tale category. I wouldn't have th
Apr 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved Mulan (the disney movie) as a kid, but I forgot how much until I read that book. I now remember why I loved it and now love it again.

Smart and Brave Heroine: CHECK
Mulan has literally virtue that I admire: bravery, strength, I love that she isn't afraid to be different or to be herself. She just wishes she could be herself without disgracing her family or her warrior father. She is so brave and strong. She is one of my favorite Heroines now.

Sweet and Brave Hero: CHECK
Even though he's not
Sep 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, retellings
Cameron Dokey never fails to get her point across. I love the Disney movie Mulan so I had no doubt that I wouldn't at least like this book. I'm getting used to these short books.

Mulan is a great protagonist. She is different from other girls and longs to be taught something other than embroidering and being a proper young girl. So she learns (from her neighbor and friend)to read, shot arrows, sword fight, etc. Basically what boys are supposed to be learning, not girls. The only downside to this
Feb 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Prior to reading Wild Orchid, my only exposure to the story of Mulan was through the animated Disney film (which I haven’t seen since its release about ten years ago). It’s refreshing to see the Once Upon a Time series expand its boundaries from the traditional European folk & fairy tale canon. While Dokey’s fairy tale heroines tend to be somewhat similar – they want to follow their hearts and develop their own identities in spite of forces arrayed against them – Mulan’s story stands out because ...more
”I have not led an ordinary life, nor a life that would suit everyone. I took great risks, but because I did, I also earned great rewards. I found the way to show my true face freely, without true fear. Because of this, I found true love.

Oh, yes. And I did save China.”


I’m sorry, but it should be the other way around, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. It fits with this book’s purpose, but unfortunately, it reads nothing like the Disney movie you know and love.

Mulan was one of the fir
Marguerite (M)
Jan 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: lovers of retellings

Let's get down to business
To defeat the Huns
Did they send me daughters, when I asked for sons?
(Yes they did)

Who doesn’t know about Mulan and how she saved China ? Cinderella ? Pfff. Sleeping Beauty ? Try again. Snow White ? I may look like her, but let’s stop there. I dreamt of being Mulan, of being a hero. Of being as good or better than a man. As a child, Mulan was the ultimate strong woman in my eyes, and she kind of still is.

You're the saddest bunch I ever met
But you can bet, before we'r
The more I read of Cameron Dokey's Once Upon a Time series, the more I recognise her format. She starts really well, with lots of scene setting and description, and then there comes a point where she hurtles towards the ending.

The same thing happens in this book. The set up is good. We meet Mulan and her family and friends, and then she goes off to war and, where the book should slow down and give more detail, and have some conflict, it just speeds towards the ending and wraps everything up too
Aug 15, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of fairytales retold, reimagined, or twisted on it's side
2.5 stars. Retelling of "The Ballad of Mulan". Enjoyable enough to read.

It really focuses on Mulan and her family. I liked that a lot. Her relationships with her father, step-mother, best friend, etc. are believable and sweet. I especially liked how close her father and her became by the end of the book. And I truly appreciated the step-mother being nice and caring; not a witch.

It is pretty much all Mulan's childhood and growth into a young woman until her family receives the summons for a man
The story of a warrior

I love the story of Mulan. It's such a beautiful tale of honor, courage, and strength. Fairy Tale retellings are my favorite things to read and Mulan is a story that isn't often retold so having the opportunity to read it was awesome.

The writing was ok. If I'm being honest I wasn't the biggest fan of it. I didn't really like the whole recounting old events. I guess it gave it more of a fairy tale feel, but still I wasn't the biggest fan. Having read a lot of fairy tales,
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Jennifer Rummel for

Mulan's mother died during labor. Her father, a great General in the army, was heartbroken. He's never been home since he heard the news. Thus, Mulan lost both her parents on the same day.

Mulan is not your typical girl. Instead, she climbs trees and despises needlework. She meets the boy next door and the two of them form a friendship. He teaches her archery, how to ride a horse, how to use a sword, and, finally, how to read and write.

When her fath
Oct 31, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun, quick read. I'm always happy with a happy love story ending as well.

I do have to say that I think they could have gotten a more oriental looking girl to model for the cover. I'm annoyed by the girl every time I look at the cover.
"It's just...being a girl is so hard sometimes. It always seems to be about pleasing somebody else."

The Wild Orchid is a reimagining of the Chinese ballad of Mulan, the girl who pretended to be a man so she could take her father's place in the emperor's army, amassed to fight the Mongolian invaders.

From the perspective of viewing this as a retelling, this novel was nothing spectacular. The characters slowly unfurled and blossomed into themselves and their relationships and interactions were b
Jammin Jenny
I really enjoyed this retelling of the story of Mulan, China's warrior princess who saved China from the Huns. I loved seeing her grow up, being different, and only having one true friend Li Po who understood her and helped her become who she wanted to be. I also loved her father warming up to her and finding love again. And Prince Jian was amazing too. Great story. ...more
Aldo Xante
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
i think this book is really good and it tells a intresting story
Nirvana Valladares
Sep 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
it was okie dokie artichokie. :> goodbook...
Matthew  Cabrera
Sep 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
book was good and really interesting and i liked it a lot. I would recommend it.
Sep 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars. It's a good idea. But it doesn't seem finished. It's a good draft for a book, not a finished product. ...more
Nicollette Winiewicz
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, fairytale
Retelling of Mulan. I've always thought that it was more plausible of her to already have a background in archery, and swordplay that to just up and join the Chinese army and automatically become a hero that saves China. ...more
The Daydreamologist

If you're a fan of disney, even if in a distant, secret, 'I'm-not-going-to-admit-it kind of way, you've probably heard of Mulan. Frankly, she's my favourite Disney Princess, but that doesn't really matter.
Anyways, you might understand why I was a bit hesitant to start this retelling , as it might spoil my favourite heroine for me, in plain words. But I shouldn't have worried one bit. This was heartwarming and heart touching, to say the very least. The movie and the story are a fairly different f
Drew Graham
Sep 26, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: me
Young Hua Mulan has never met her parents. Her mother died giving birth to her only child, and her father left to war shortly after, too pained at the sight of the cause of his beloved wife's death (a daughter, no less) to remain. Raised by the same nurse who watched over her mother, Mulan wants nothing more than to be allowed to be herself and engage in her own interests -- not suffer through wearying weaving and endless embroidery, but learn to ride, shoot, read and write with her friend, a bo ...more
JG (Introverted Reader)
Mulan's mother died in childbirth, leaving her father heart-broken. He can't bring himself to come home from the battlefield and visit the child who cost his beloved wife her life. When he finally does return home after the emperor dismisses him, he finds Mulan a young teen who very much has a mind of her own. She is a brilliant, talented girl. Her best friend Li Po teaches her to read and write and shoot a bow and arrow. Her caretaker teaches her embroidery. Of course there are bumps along the ...more
Janus the Erudite Artist
Not exactly a tale that I find memorable and exciting. I appreciated the first parts of this book but as the story progressed, I came to notice how shallow and uneventful it turned out to be.

I didn’t get to know the characters very well. Mulan’s character was fairly established but as for everyone else, I just got a glimpse or two of their names and not much of their personality. I also find that Mulan’s love interest, Prince Jian (…is that his name? correct me if I’m wrong.) a very unreal chara
Jan 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is the second book I have read by Cameron Dokey. Although I liked this book better than Golden, I had problems with it. Not big problems, but problems are problems.

First, the character’s name. After Mulan disguises herself as a boy, she calls herself Gong-shi, meaning Bow-and-Arrow. I don’t know where the author got the name from, but it should be Gong-jian. (view spoiler) Which is sort of weird
Mar 25, 2010 rated it did not like it
The one star is prolly due to my expectations, of which this book has fallen sorely short of. I like fairy tale retellings as much as the next fantasy fan, but i think Cameron Dokey has some of the best retellings out there. What i appreciate most from her writings are her ability to inculcate insight into her stories. However though insight was present in the Wild Orchid, i felt that more depth into Mulan's story was sorely lacking. My main problems with her book invovled the story of Mulan. I ...more
Dec 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fairytales

3 1/2 stars really.

It was an interesting story, I liked the development of the family relationships, but I felt like the romance was glossed over. Oh, sure, their hearts beat as one and now they are suddenly in love...


I read this last night and thought that I hadn't read this book before. If I hadn't seen the review above, I would still believe that. I guess that's a sad commentary on my memory these days that the book didn't seem familiar at all!

This time my perceptions put it at 4
Sep 06, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, own, ya, diverse
I read The Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey back in April for the Dewey Readathon. This young adult book retells the ballad of Mulan. It’s a bit more in-depth than the Disney film — but lacking the awesome songs (and yes I totally have Be A Man on my iPod).

Set in Imperial China, Mulan is tough as nails. She can heft a sword, run through mud without freaking out, and isn’t very girly. So, she’s chilling out in the woods behind her house with her BFF, Li Po – who taught her literacy and archery becaus
Apr 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Okay, so I'm on a Cameron Dokey kick right now. Probably because I need to escape into a bit of fairy tale fantasy and probably because they're a quick read so I can handle it time wise. I enjoyed this retelling of Mulan. It was a nice change of pace to get away from all the European based fairy tales and read something set in China. It makes you want to be brave and go out riding your horse while wielding your bow and arrow. I wish there had been a little more development between her and her lo ...more
Maja  - BibliophiliaDK ✨
Once again not really impressed by Cameron Dokey's writing or execution of the story. It had potential, the ballad of Mulan is one of the most inspiring fairy tales, but she wrote it into the dust. As with 'Golden', the retelling of Rapunzel, this book was flat and lifeless. What was supposed to be the best part of the book, in my opinion, Mulan disguising herself as a boy and riding into battle, was the shortest part of the book. Such a let down. And the 'climax' consisted of only one page and ...more
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Cameron Dokey is an American author living in Seattle, Washington. She has a collection of over 50 old sci-fi and horror films. Cameron was born in the Central Valley of California. Cameron grew up reading classical literature and mythology, perhaps due to her father, Richard, being a teacher of Philosophy, Creative Writing, and Western Literature.

Cameron has one husband and three cats, and is th

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