Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Wild Orchid: A Retelling of The Ballad of Mulan” as Want to Read:
The Wild Orchid: A Retelling of The Ballad of Mulan
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Wild Orchid: A Retelling of The Ballad of Mulan

(Once Upon a Time)

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  5,969 ratings  ·  500 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
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Wild Orchid, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
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…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)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,969 ratings  ·  500 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Wild Orchid: A Retelling of The Ballad of Mulan
Jul 18, 2008 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
enqi ☁️✨ kell maresh lovesite
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
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 ...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 first
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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 ...more
JG (The 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
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
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
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 ...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: ya, diverse, own, fantasy
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
Theodosia of the Fathomless Hall
2.5 Stars. This was the second installment in the Once Upon A Time series (the other in that capacity The World Above) and both by Cameron Dokey, who writing I like.
In total it's a fine book, I've not read or watched in other interpretations of Mulan, but from what I've seen it seems like it does justice. . . I wouldn't be that authority though!

My biggest and only gripe was this: DID MULAN HAVE TO END UP WITH JIAN FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE? It's supposedly set in the Sui Dynasty of China, if you're
Miss Clark
Apr 28, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves fairytales
I quite enjoyed this installment in the "Once Upon A Time" series, even though Mulan's story is not actually a fairytale. I have never read the original legend of Mulan, so my only knowledge of the story comes from many viewings of Disney's animated film version.

Many have complained about how much time is spent on the beginning of the book on Mulan's childhood, but I actually liked getting to really know Mulan before she goes off and does her heroic deed. Then again, the ending seemed
More of a 3.75
I thought I would give this book a higher rating but I just couldn't. I found the beginning of the book very slow paced. It took about 115 pages for Mulan to actually leave home. I was hoping the story would pick up quicker, but it didn't. Then when the story did start to pick up, it was over. I enjoyed the book but that's pretty much it. I liked the last 70 pages that's why it got the .75 otherwise it would have just been a 3 star book. I will continue with the Once Upon a Time
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Nov 20, 2014 12:23PM  
¿Por qué no una traducción al Español? 1 1 Oct 22, 2014 01:00PM  
Translation to Spanish, why not? 1 1 Jul 11, 2014 09:48AM  
What is the best book in the Once Upon a Time Collection? 13 40 Jun 14, 2014 04:39PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Ice
  • Princess of the Silver Woods ( The Princesses of Westfalin Trilogy, #3)
  • The Amaranth Enchantment
  • The Princess and the Hound
  • Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow
  • Princess Ben
  • Seven Daughters and Seven Sons
  • Princess of Glass (The Princesses of Westfalin Trilogy, #2)
  • My Unfair Godmother (My Fair Godmother, #2)
  • The Rose Legacy (The Rose Legacy, #1)
  • Toads and Diamonds
  • Enchanted (Woodcutter Sisters #1; Books of Arilland #1)
  • The Swan Maiden
  • Hero (Woodcutter Sisters #2; Books of Arilland #2)
  • A Curse Dark as Gold
  • Princess of the Midnight Ball (The Princesses of Westfalin Trilogy, #1)
  • Shadow Spinner
  • The Thirteenth Princess
See similar books…
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

Other books in the series

Once Upon a Time (1 - 10 of 19 books)
  • The Storyteller's Daughter: A Retelling of the Arabian Nights
  • Beauty Sleep: A Retelling of Sleeping Beauty
  • Snow: A Retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  • Midnight Pearls: A Retelling of The Little Mermaid
  • Scarlet Moon: A Retelling of Little Red Riding Hood
  • Sunlight and Shadow: A Retelling of The Magic Flute
  • Spirited
  • The Night Dance:  A Retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses
  • Golden:  A Retelling of Rapunzel
  • Water Song: A Retelling of The Frog Prince
“I had to cease to mourn what could never be and make the most of what was possible. And I would begin doing that by trying to mend the hurts of the past.” 120 likes
“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 reward. I found the way to show my true face freely, without fear. Because of this, I found true love.” 48 likes
More quotes…