FEATHER AND FLAME, by Livia Blackburne, Disney-Hyperion, June 14, 2022, Hardcover, $17.99 (young adult)
What happened to Mulan after she saved China? Livia Blackburne explores Mulan’s next steps in Feather and Flame, part of The Queen’s Council series.
The war is over. Now a renowned hero, Mulan spends her days in her home village, training a militia of female warriors. The peace is a welcome one, and she knows it must be protected.
When Shang arrives with an invitation to the Imperial City, Mulan’s relatively peaceful life is upended once more. The aging emperor decrees that Mulan will be his heir to the throne. Such unimagined power and responsibility terrifies her, but who can say no to the Emperor?
As Mulan ascends into the halls of power, it becomes clear that not everyone is on her side. Her ministers undermine her, and the Huns sense a weakness in the throne. When hints of treachery appear even amongst those she considers friends, Mulan has no idea whom she can trust.
But the Queen’s Council helps Mulan uncover her true destiny. With renewed strength and the wisdom of those that came before her, Mulan will own her power, save her country, and prove once again that, crown or helmet, she was always meant to lead. This fierce reimagining of the girl who became a warrior blends fairy-tale lore and real history with a Disney twist. —Synopsis provided by Disney-Hyperion
Feather and Flame is the second book in Disney-Hyperion’s Queen’s Council series. This YA historical fantasy series reimagines Disney Princesses as rulers coming into power, aided by a mysterious force that weaves between their individual stories. The first book, Rebel Rose, by Emma Theriault, follows Belle as she struggles with her role within the gentry. Feather and Flame is the second book. And Alexandra Monir is writing the third, still untitled book about Jasmine that will likely come out in 2023.
While I struggled a little bit between the loss of magic going from the movie to Rebel Rose, I had no such problem with Feather and Flame. Perhaps that’s because the shifts are more subtle in Feather and Flame or perhaps that’s because I know less of Chinese history than I do of French.
I think the biggest reason, however, is that Livia Blackburne was able to capture Mulan’s essence from the first pages of her book. To put it bluntly — Mulan still feels like Mulan, the world in which she lives remains familiar — even though it does change from village to court.
Blackburne’s pacing is to be lauded, as she balances the quieter more introspective moments with those full of danger and action.
At approximately 330 pages, Feather and Flame is a fairly quick read. Blackburne hooks you at the first chapter, and you’ll be disappointed when there’s nothing more to read. I’m excited to see where the next book in this series takes readers.
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