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Inspiring Mulan Books To Channel Your Inner Feminist

Do you love the story of Fa Mulan? Based on a Chinese legend, find popular Mulan books, books about Mulan, and Mulan fairytale retellings.

Popular Mulan Retellings Blog Post Cover in black and white with young girl holding a sword
We hope you love and are inspired by these YA and adult Mulan retellings.

Mulan’s Origins: Legends, Books & Disney

Have you watched Disney’s cartoon version of Mulan or read the book? Who doesn’t swoon for a good love story about a young feminist maiden totally kicking some serious butt?

Disney's Mulan movie cover with picture of cartoon Mulan

In Disney’s Mulan, the Emperor of China decrees that one male from every household must fight in the Imperial Army to protect the country from northern invaders. 

Mulan dons men’s traditional warrior clothing and fights in place of her sick father.  In the Disney version, there is triumph and romance.

The Real Story of Fa [Hua] Mulan

Hua Mulan is a real person from a Chinese legend.  Disney’s Mulan isn’t very far from the mark.  Mulan’s heroism is recorded in ancient texts and a folk song known as the Ballad of Mulan.  

The details get a little iffy around here because this text no longer exists.

However, over the course of centuries, scholars, musicians, and historical novelists created Mulan retellings that helped shaped Disney’s Mulan today. 

The stories portray Mulan as a brave hero and warrior, fighting for years as a female soldier.  Today in Chinese culture, Mulan is a symbol of hope and inspiration.

Inspiring Mulan Retellings Pinterest Pin with book covers for Frost Blood, Flame in the Mist, Smoke in the Sun, and Rebel Wings
Is your TBR pile already overflowing? Save these popular Mulan books for later on Pinterest.

Books About Mulan

These are the books that most closely resemble your classic Mulan retelling and story. Many of the characters remain the same with just a small alteration to the plot.

Book about Mulan, Wild Orchid Cameron Dokey, book cover with young Asian girl holding a bow surrounded by pink orchids

Wild Orchid: A Retelling of The Ballad of Mulan by Cameron Dokey

Wild Orchid is a book about Mulan filled with magical romance.  Who doesn’t want their fairytale with some princessy love and a fierce woman?  In this Mulan retelling, Dokey emphasizes those lustful and crush-like feelings that Mulan has for Prince Jian.

Set in China, Mulan meets her father, a soldier for the emperor that she hasn’t seen in years.  As the Huns build their army, Mulan goes off to fight for her frail father.  While battling traditional gender stereotypes, Mulan meets her swoon-worthy soulmate. Amazon | Goodreads

Book about Mulan, Reflection A Twisted Tale by Elizabeth Lim, book cover with a shadowed warrior holding up a sword and mountains in the background

Reflection: A Twisted Tale (Twisted Tales #4) by Elizabeth Lim

“What happened if Mulan had to travel to the Underworld?”  A Disney Mulan book, Reflection is a Mulan retelling with a fantasy twist.

Like Mulan, discover a battle against the Huns.  Disguised as Ping, Captain Shang saves Mulan’s life.  In effect, Shang is mortally wounded.  Mulan must cross into the Underworld, Diyu, to find and save Shang’s soul before he’s trapped there forever. 

Reflection is the fourth book in the Twisted series, which is infamous for flipping books upside down and around. Amazon | Goodreads | Read More→


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Similar YA Mulan Retellings

If you like Mulan retellings as much as I do, you will want to join in the craze and try these fantastical and magical Mulan books. While these are Mulan-inspired books, they all have different characters and more unique storylines or locations.

YA Mulan Retelling, The Warrior Maiden by Melanie Dickerson, book cover with Asian young woman wearing a male red warrior tunic and carrying weapons

The Warrior Maiden by Melanie Dickerson

If you are looking for books about Mulan set in Eastern Europe, you’ll love this Baltic Mulan retelling.  The Warrior Maiden takes place in Poland and Lithuania.  True to Disney’s Mulan, this strong lead grabs her father’s clothing and heads off to fight against the Teutonic Knights.

Dickerson is infamous for her YA fairytale retellings. The Warrior Maiden is no different except that the novel has Christian overtones. Dickerson utilizes faith as a powerful tool to build confidence. Through her characters, she criticizes conservative religious condemnation. Amazon | Goodreads

Find romance and a story where even the most closed-minded characters open up their hearts.  Find more Baltic Books on TULRead TUL’s Complete The Warrior Maiden Review→

Mulan books, Spin The Dawn by Elizabeth Lim, book cover with woman with black hair fighting a dragon

Spin The Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Submission from travel blogger Keri of Quiet Girl Loud World

Maia’s dream is to become a royal tailor who dresses the emperor. When a messenger comes from the palace and offers her father an opportunity to become the royal tailor, Maia knows that she must go in his place. Even though women cannot become tailors, Maia disguises herself as her older brother and leaves for the palace to pursue her dream and to bring honor to her family.

Once she enters the palace, Maia learns that she and 11 other experienced tailors are vying for the position. The challenges push her limits, but with the help of a mysterious enchanter and a little of her own magic, she finds herself able to compete.

If you enjoy stories with adventure, sweet romance, and characters who overcome hardship Spin the Dawn is the Mulan book for you. Amazon | Goodreads

Books Like Or Inspired By Mulan Retellings

Along with books about Mulan and Mulan fairytale retellings, these are our favorite Mulan-inspired books. Some of the stories might feel like a bit of a stretch, but for others, you can more clearly see the Mulan resemblance.

Mulan Book, Frostblood by Elly Blake, book cover with symbol dripping red blood over ice

Frostblood by Elly Blake

Frostblood is a New York Times bestseller and is the perfect book if you love YA dystopian action series. While not an exact Mulan retelling, meet powerful 17-year-old Ruby.  Similar to the Red Queen, Ruby has hidden abilities to control heat and flame.  Like Mulanshe is a warrior in love.

With the death of her mother, Ruby, a Fireblood, joins forces with the Frostbloods to seek revenge and overthrow the corrupt kingdom.  Soon captured, Ruby is thrown into a pit where she must fight for her life, and of course, battle her emotions over a guy. Amazon | Goodreads  | Read More→

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

Flame In The Mist by Renée Ahdieh

Flame In The Mist is one of my favorite Mulan books that incorporates historical fantasy with feminism.  Set in feudal Japan, Mariko feels powerless in her current role as the daughter of a samurai. Forced into a marriage of convenience, Mariko must either sit back like Dickerson’s Mulan or fight back.

True to your classic Mulan retelling, Mariko dresses as a boy to fight against the gang who attempted to murder her. I love the angsty romance along the way. Amazon | Goodreads  See our full review in March 2020’s issue of Currently ReadingRead More→

Mulan inspired book, Smoke in the Sun by Renee Ahdieh, book cover with two pink and purple dragons and a young Asian girl's face surrounded by white and purple flowers

Smoke In The Sun by Renee Ahdieh

The sequel to Flame In The Mist, Ahdieh’s Smoke In The Sun furthers this enchanting Mulan retelling even better and quicker paced than the first. Without giving too much away from Book One, I promise Book Two answers your questions and gives you a sense of finality.

Learn Mariko’s future: Will she follow her family’s wishes to marry the emperor’s son? Not everyone is who they seem to be, and the fiery action and romance will suck you right in. Who will perish for the cause? Most notable, this beautifully written Mulan book ends with Mariko discussing her place in the world as a woman.  Amazon | Goodreads

Books Like Mulan, Defy by Sara B Larson, green book cover with sharp dagger facing down

Defy By Sara B. Larson

Defy is a book similar to Mulan that incorporates a love triangle, sorcery, and women in battle.

Alex dresses as a male to fight in the army with her badass sword-fighting skills.  Although unstoppable, a sorcerer kidnaps Alex along with her friend and a guard.  We can see where this is going, right? While trying to sort through her feelings, Alex must still try to save her kingdom. Amazon | Goodreads  | Read More→

Alanna by Tamora Pierce book cover with light-brown horse

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

Winner of the Margaret A. Edwards Award, Alanna is like a Mulan retelling for its lead characters overcoming gendered stereotypes and women with weapon mastery.

The first title in the Song of the Lioness series, enter a Mulan-like world where females cannot aspire to warrior status. Alanna ultimately switches places with her twin brother to train as a page.  With a magical element read along to see if Alanna can obtain Mulan’s legendary status. Amazon | Goodreads

Rebel Wing by Tracy Banghart, book cover, with male and female holding hands looking up at a plane

Rebel Wing by Tracy Banghart

If you are looking for more books like Mulanyou will enjoy Rebel Wing for its woman-goes-to-battle-after-feeling-powerless edge.

18-year-old Aris feels helpless at home while her boyfriend is drafted into the war.  Unlike Mulan, though, Aris is recruited into the war effort as a pilot but is asked to disguise herself as a man.  Sigh… Of course, women–even good ones–aren’t allowed into the military.  Can Aris save the Dominion of Atalanta? Amazon | Goodreads

Mulan Books Our Readers Recommended

Mulan retellings, The Hand the eye and the heart by Zoe Marriott, book cover with golden bird, pink dragon, and orange and yellow tiger surrounded by flowers and orchids

The Hand, The Eye & The Heart by Zoë Marriott 

When our Mulan book list first published, one of our readers suggested The Hand, the Eye & the Heart. I have been meaning to try this one.

Zhilan is a transgendered character and takes the place of their disabled father on the battlefield. While not a strict Mulan retelling, find LGBT romance with a Mulan twist. Amazon |  Goodreads

If you’d like to add a Mulan novel, please let us know in the comments or drop me an email!

Popular Mulan Books For Adults

If you are looking for more books about Mulan for adults, be sure to check out these fiction and nonfiction titles.

Books about Mulan, Women Warriors by Pamela D Toler, book cover with woman riding a black horse going off to battle holding a sword

Woman Warriors by Pamela Toler

A book about Mulan and women like her, Woman Warriors focuses on IRL strong women who were once pushed into the shadows of history.

Since the beginning of time, women have fought in battles and changed their identities.  Gender masked their accomplishments.  The women in the book span the globe and transcend time.  A few women included: Tomyris, Amina of Hausa, Boudica, and Lakshmi Bai. Have you heard of them up until now?  Me either. Amazon | Goodreads

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, beige book cover with dragon head

A Game Of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

It is not a secret that I haven’t joined the GOT fandom yet.  Although not really Mulan book series per se, I think we all know that GOT has strong women that battle it out. With the end of the HBO series, I couldn’t knowingly leave GOT off of this list of strong women warriors.

I have not read the books, but I know that there is a struggle for the Iron Throne, some dragons, and some equally strong women.  Further explaining would just insult the people who know it all way better than me. Amazon | Goodreads

Mulan Books Pinterest Pin with book covers for Alanna, Reflection, Frostblood, and Defy
Did you find a new Mulan book to read? Save it for later on Pinterest.

So which of these popular Mulan books and retellings will you read?  What is your favorite aspect of Mulan?  I’d love to know what other books you’d recommend. Please let us know in the comments.

I don’t know about you, but I am seriously ready to go out into the world and kick some major butt now.  But as me, Christine, TUL: I went to Smith–you won’t see me covering up or succumbing to gender roles.  My sword: my pen.  My little fuzzy sidekick?  A glass of wine.

You might also like my friend Rachel’s Classic Retellings book list.

More YA Reading Lists On TUL:

Uplifting LGBT YA Books
Best YA WW2 Books
Top Vampire Books For Tweens & Teens

You May Also Love:

The Warrior Maiden Book Review
March 2020’s Mulan Reading Challenge
March 2020’s Currently Reading: Flame in the Mist & Smoke in the Sun
Books That Make You Think

Lindsay

Friday 6th of December 2019

I also think that Mulan could be based on Alanna 1st book since it came in the 1980s and Mulan in the late 90s. That’s a really big coincidence since these two books propel the story of girls who disguised themselves as boys to enter the military; one by choice and the other because she had to.

Christine

Friday 6th of December 2019

Ultimately, they are both based on the Ballad of Mulan and Hua Mulan from ancient times and Chinese legends.

Hayley Yager

Tuesday 16th of July 2019

Agree, the romance in Disney gives big misconceptions to impressionable young girls. Maybe that's why I wasn't fussed, my mum was just saving me from having super high expectations and falling in love with imaginary princes?

Christine

Tuesday 16th of July 2019

You seriously have to watch Ralph Breaks The Internet or at least fast forward to the Disney Princess part. You will crack up. They make fun of themselves SO badly.

I am pretty sure that you found a REAL prince... ; )

Hey, I went to an all women's college after watching Disney my WHOLE life. Lol!

Lauren Elena

Sunday 14th of July 2019

Oh my god! Funniest thing...I was reading this and it made me think about Game of Thrones. I was thinking to myself, don’t bring up Game of Thrones again, Lauren, don’t do it. I’m so glad you did!? There are many strong women in Game of Thrones but the one who is most like Milan, I think, is Arya. For sure! Her society meant for her to be a Lady but that’s not what she wanted in life. She wanted to be a fighter and that’s exactly what she became! She’s kick-ass.

So many of these books sound great! I’m definitely adding Wild Orchid and Frost Blood to my list. Women Warriors sounds great too!

Great post! You have to teach me how you get the small pictures of the book covers. I should probably know that as a book blogger.? I just read about some sort of plugin but I don’t know if I jot the name down or took a screenshot. Hopefully I find it somewhere!

Christine

Sunday 14th of July 2019

YAY!! LOL!! I almost messaged you or Keri to write about Game of Thrones for me here. I didn't want to leave it off the list because I have a general idea of what goes down, but I didn't want the true fans to call out my butt lol! I've heard over and over that Arya is a warrior and she sounded so much like Mulan that I couldn't resist.

I also loved the Red Queen, which is comparable to Frostblood, if you ever need lots of YA series to read.

I'll message you about covers.

Sarah

Sunday 14th of July 2019

I love the animated Mulan movie, but I am especially excited to see the live-action one. Just saw the trailer the other day and it looks so dang good! I definitely need to read some of these books. I love reading books with strong female leads and these ones all look great. I read Alanna recently, but the others are new to me. Can't wait to read some these. My poor TBR, haha.

Christine

Sunday 14th of July 2019

I'm really excited about the live-action Mulan too. I feel like I need to have a party to watch it.

My TBR pile is a complete mess; I feel you. The Warrior Maiden ends up on all my lists because it's so great!

Hayley Yager

Friday 12th of July 2019

After seeing this post I can't believe I've never read Mulan!! I'm guessing I maybe saw it on TV as a kid but Disney wasn't big in my house - I swayed more towards The Goonies and Little Rascals haha. But I love the concept and I'm all for sassy female warriors! So I definitely want to add approximately all of these books to my list :)

Christine

Saturday 13th of July 2019

I certainly grew up in a Disney-obsessed household. We owned all of them all on VHS (what is that?!?). Mulan was definitely the bolder of all the Disney ladies. I always love a good woman kicking ass story. I could probably do without the romance in almost every single one, though.