The Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey Retro Friday Review

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).

The Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey Book Cover

The Wild Orchid

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.Β  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.

Other Reviews of The Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey:

Chachic’s Book Nook

Purchase The Wild Orchid here. *FYI I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if you buy things from Amazon after clicking link.

About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Really interesting. I’ll have to add that to my list.

  2. I totally have the Be A Man song in my head now. Mulan’s my favorite of the Disney movies so this sounds like an interesting read to me. I’ll need to check out the Once Upon A Time series sometime.

  3. I love this re-telling series. I read Golden which was the re-telling of Rapunzel and it was amazing and heartbreaking. Not having a love triangle is such a nice break!
    I work at Disney World and I have to admit, every time I hear “Be A Man” it’s like happy time. I know the song isn’t very happy but it’s so catchy! And besides, Mulan was an awesome movie.

  4. I love the Once Upon a Time series! πŸ˜€ And Wild Orchid isn’t even my favorite one! πŸ˜›
    This series is perfect for fairly light, easy fairy tale retellings. You aren’t really going to find a book that blows you away, because these are… simpler than that, but I do most certainly love them.
    (And, since you like the sexytimes, you should try Scarlet Moon. Still tame, since it’s for kids, but if I remember right, there are some pretty legit makeout scenes. πŸ˜› )

  5. No shame in having Be A Man on the ipod. I’ve got the whole Mulan cd! Again, no shame…it’s a great soundtrack πŸ˜‰

  6. I don’t have Be a Man on my iPod but I do love the movie. Fantastic review. I really liked this book. I was happy that there wasn’t a love triangle too. I have only read one other book from this series but I thought it was well done too. I love fairy tale retellings so I’ll have to check out more of them.
    I’m glad you mentioned Juliet Marillier. She is one of my favorite authors. Have you read Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon? That is another one you might like that is kind of similar to this (only it is fantasy)

  7. I’ve read most of the books in the Once Upon a Time series and have passed on my copies to a friend because while I enjoyed reading the books, the stories aren’t really that memorable. I love fairy tale retellings but I want something along the lines of Robin McKinley, Gail Carson Levine, Shannon Hale and yes, Juliet Marillier for older reads. πŸ™‚

  8. I love that book. But I wasn’t sure if it is a Fantasy book

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