Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angieville where you review an older book.
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 because that is what BFFs do – when her long lost father returns from running with the devil aka doing a stint in the army. It seems like her father resents her because her mother died in childbirth, but there’s definitely more to it than that. As we know from the awesome movie, Mulan’s father is called to serve again in war, and so Mulan secretly takes on the duty because her dad is old and has other obligations. While disguised as a male, she falls for this dude named Jian who is also a prince.
Y’all The Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey was my introduction to the Once Upon A Time Series. I have to say, I will totally read more books in this series. First, the sexytimes are relatively tame. There’s no sex or anything, just glances and kisses. It’s an absorbing read though, perfect for a readathon, because there is tons of action and military parts and romance. To me, that’s a recipe for winning.
Mulan, herself, is strong. Yet she isn’t Wonder Woman or anything. She still has vulnerability. She’s stubborn. She’s far from perfect. But, her heart is big and she deeply cares for her friends and family. I like that sort of characterization.
Dokey’s characters are not immune to tragedy. Which again, YAY for books with stakes. None of this everyone is a winner and gets cake and gets to eat it too.
AND there is no love triangle. I bet you assume there would be, because I mentioned she has a male best friend. Yo, he stays in the friend zone, happily. And there’s no sort of Harry-Sally situation, but still, I love that males and females can be friends and one doesn’t get jilted or anything.
I thought The Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey was a relatively decent retelling. However, it’s not quite Juliette Marillier calibre, but still not bad. Good if you are in the mood for a fairy tale, but don’t want to commit to Marillier.
Disclosure: Purchased copy.