Are you looking for a classic YA fairy tale retelling of Mulan? Check out The Warrior Maiden by Melanie Dickerson, a book set in Lithuania and Poland.
Melanie Dickerson is infamous for her classic fairy tale retellings. From Snow White and Aladdin to The Little Mermaid and Rapunzel, readers can’t help but get sucked into the romance and ancient storyline. Even though we already know the outcome, I still feel the need to peek ahead in these books. I’m a sucker for love and horses not dying.
The Warrior Maiden is no different, as Dickerson reimagines the story of Mulan. Set in 15th century Lithuania and Poland, readers watch as Mulan defies gender boundaries. Can she overcome class, her womanhood, and religious differences while also staying alive? A historical young adult romance with Christian overtones, I couldn’t help but fall back in love with Mulan’s adventures.
The Warrior Maiden Summary
As a Smithie, I know I wouldn’t fare well in 15th century northern Europe or pretty much anywhere for that matter.
The same is true for Mulan. With her father dead, Mulan has two choices: Go to war as a man or marry the butcher. If she doesn’t, her adoptive mother loses their Lithuanian home. Don’t get me wrong, free meat sounds great. In fact, I grew up in a similar situation with all the meat a girl could ask for. However, this butcher treats women like slaves and is quite frankly, gross. Bossiness and superiority are such turn-offs.
In this circumstance, I’d pass on the juicy steak too and chop off all my hair. That should say it all.
Accompanied by her childhood friend, Mulan sets off for war with little training to help defeat the Teutonic Knights in Poland. Assuming her father’s name, Mikolai, Mulan soon realizes that although she cannot sword fight, she offers endless value to her comrades.
Fearless and borderline reckless, Mulan proves her worth over and over again. Yet, she also fears the consequences of her unveiling. Of course, there is the handsome Wolfgang, who she begins to form a bond with. A “bond.” Ahem…
As we know with the tale of Mulan, the army discovers her gender. How will her fellow soldiers treat her as a woman? Can she still save Poland from the Teutonic Knights? And what will become of her and Wolfgang? What about her mother? Can they overcome life’s self-imposed dividers of class, gender, race, and even religion?
Who Will Love The Warrior Maiden
Although a young adult title, The Warrior Maiden is perfect for adults and teens looking for a book set in Lithuania and the Baltic States. Plus, if you love a fairy tale retelling, Dickerson offers a unique twist with her powerful words, cultural diversity, and religious overtones.
Christian YA Historical Romance
Although I do not typically read Christian fiction, the religious aspect felt less preachy and more meditative. Values and morals versus following the Bible verbatim, like the Teutonic Knights, offer greater life lessons. Dickerson suggests Bible interpretations such as those to suppress women and condemn others for their practices–Mulan’s mom’s healing salve–is not the purpose of religion. Living a life of helping others with faith and love thrives. We find strength in our convictions.
Along with strong guiding principles, The Warrior Maiden stresses familial tension and brotherly love. Wolfgang’s brother is the black sheep of the family and struggles to come of age. Past actions haunt the brothers. Yet, there is forgiveness and growth. Our past does not define us.
History Brought To Life
Most unique, Paul von Rusdorf is an actual historical figure and master of the Teutonic Knights. Dickerson takes liberties to give Rusdorf a voice as little is known about him. Similarly, Malbork Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Poland where part of this story takes place. History comes to life along with budding and enchanting romance. What more could this English and history major ask for?
One Small Setback
My only qualm with the story is the excessive self-doubt from both Mulan and Wolfgang. Neither is sure that the other is interested in marriage or feels love. I get it. At least I can appreciate that the lack of confidence is equal on both sides. Then again, this YA. Lust away.
The Warrior Maiden by Melanie Dickerson [Thomas Nelson 2019]
Genre: YA Historical Romance, Fairy Tale Adaptation, Christian Historical Fiction
Learn more about New York Times bestselling author, Melanie Dickerson.
P.S. Please note that while this title is listed as #9 in the Hagenheim series, The Warrior Maiden reads as a standalone.
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