Get ready because I’m about to gush over this beautiful YA fantasy book. I didn’t know what I was getting into, but I knew that it was loosely based on the Hans Christian Anderson story, The Wild Swans. I think Elizabeth Lim might have hit the mark with this one for me and it absolutely blew me away.
Here’s more about Six Crimson Cranes
Shiori, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted, but it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.
Raikama has dark magic of her own, and she banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes, and warning Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.
Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and, on her journey, uncovers a conspiracy to overtake the throne—a conspiracy more twisted and deceitful, more cunning and complex, than even Raikama’s betrayal. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to contain—no matter what it costs her.
Ok, this was a wildly beautiful and breathtaking novel. I was so impressed by this book and it was my first from Elizabeth Lim. I can definitely see myself reading more of her books in the future.
I loved how much excitement and adventure this book has. There was bit of suspsense, romance, fighting, and magic. It had a little bit of everything and it was so well done. I really appreciate a book I can fully immerse myself in and just feel like I’m along for the adventure.
Shiori was definitely the female character I was looking for; someone who doesn’t have the skills to survive in the world initially, but with intuition, drive, and finding their own strength they realize so much more about themselves than they imagined. I absolutely loved Shiori and her resilience to let things like her curse or the extreme poverty she found herself in to keep her from doing what she needed to do; survive and find a way to free her brothers.
And the cast of characters in this book were exceptional. I loved Seryu, the dragon, who was a bit arrogant and yet had a soft side to him. I loved Kiki, the paper bird that Shiori brings to life. I felt like a part of why Shiori survived is because she couldn’t bear to lose her paper friend. Takkan, the prince and her betrothed was definitely my kind of guy; the kind that is strong like a warrior, but soft with the ability to sing songs, recite poetry, and paint. And I loved Shiori’s six brothers.
But I think the one person who I wished made more of an appearance throughout the story was Raikama, her stepmother. It was a total surprise to see what happens at the end, but I wish there was more of her presence throughout the story. She felt more like a reason to be pursuing the ultimate goals, but her involvement felt more passive.
The relationship between Takkan and Shiori was relationship goals as far as I’m concerned. I loved that they were so caring for each other and it didn’t feel forced or insta-love. It was more innocent and kind, which honestly is my favorite kinds of romances. I cannot wait to see what happens to them in the next book.
The worldbuilding here was fairly good, but there were parts where I was confused by where they were or what was happening. These happened more towards the end and I had a few issues with the pace of the ending as well. It might just be me, but there definitely felt like a rush towards the end to wrap everything up, so much of it was lost. However, I felt like I was able to really see this world vividly and the map at the beginning of the book lends a huge hand to understanding how the characters moved across the world.
Although there felt like a rush to get to the end, I was seriously surprised by how things turned out. I won’t say here because of spoilers, but so much was revealed in such little time that I ended up finishing the book with more questions than I had answers.
But I felt like the book left with enough to end the first story and make room for the next. I’m so excited to read the end of this story (which will probably happen in a year) and see what happens to Shiori, her brothers, and the world they live in.
Thanks to Get Underlined and Knopf for a gifted copy of the book. My opinions have not been influenced by the author or the publisher.