By: Cait Marie
*I received an advance copy of this book from the author to proofread, but I loved it so much I’m listing it as an ARC review.*
To avenge her sister’s death and protect her family, Hua Minglan dons her father’s armor and takes his place in joining the war against the Kou. While training under Commander Jian, she slowly opens up and finds her place among the soldiers. Hua was never happy about the life she was destined to have as a woman, and now she has a way to live the adventure she’s always wanted.
Befriending the harsh Commander and soldiers was not part of the plan though. And she’s hiding more secrets than just her being a woman. Secrets that would make her the enemy of the very army she’s fighting for. Secrets that could get her and her family killed just for existing.
What a way to start off the new year! By now, you all know how much I love retellings, and you’re probably aware of how much I love M. Lynn’s books but I was not prepared to be so in awe of this one.
Dragon Rising is a Mulan retelling, and while it does have a lot of similarities to the Disney movie we all love so much, it’s fresh and new and exciting. There is a full, rich background for the characters. The story is well thought out and executed brilliantly. It kept me intrigued from beginning to end, and it was hard to stop reading to do anything else.
Let’s start with the characters because that is one of the most vital parts of a story for me. Every once in a while a book comes along where I just instantly love the characters and feel deeply connected to them. It doesn’t happen often, even if I love the characters in a book, but the ones here jumped right into my heart and are prepared to stay for a long time. From Hua, a fierce warrior who wants to protect her family above all else, to Jian, the Commander who hides behind a tough mask, I love them all. There is also Emperor Bo and General Luca, whom I adore with all my heart. Jian is Bo’s half-brother, and the three men have been best friends their whole lives, which just makes my soul happy. Their friendship is very real and apparent, and they’re wonderful.
Michelle clearly did a lot of research when writing this book. It is evident in the cultures, settings, and histories presented. She does such a good job telling the story that even though there isn’t a POV of anyone in the enemy Kou army, we get a clear idea of their people and way of life. There is a distinction between the two people, and it was interesting seeing those differences.
I love her style of writing. I’m sure I’ve said it before, but it’s true. She has a way of really bringing the reader into the story, and it all feels so natural. The world building is done beautifully without being bogged down by descriptions and information–there is a perfect balance. It’s easy to get in to and find yourself lost in this new world.
I know it’s early in the year, and this was the first book I finished, but I am certain it’s going to be a favorite. Not just of 2020. This is a book I will absolutely be rereading time and time again, I’m sure. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in a long time, and I’ve read a lot of good ones the past couple months. I cannot wait to see where the next book takes these characters. You better believe I’ll be pestering Michelle until it’s in my possession!
Dragon Rising is set to release March 13!