Six Crimson Cranes was my most anticipated book of the year and like other books I read by Elizabeth Lim, this didn’t disappoint me. It was refreshing, magical, and epic YA fantasy filled with legends, curse, and adventure.
Six Crimson Cranes (Six Crimson Cranes #1) by Elizabeth Lim
Publication Date : July 8th 2021
Publisher : Hodder & Stoughton
Genre : Fantasy / YA
Pages : 464
*** Disclaimer : I received e-copy of this book via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to publisher and NetGalley. ***
Books I read by the same author
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.
Peniless, 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.
Six Crimson Cranes was fantastic YA retelling and mythical fantasy that revolved around Princess Shiori and her six brothers turned into Crane trying to break their curse and save their kingdom. The story was about family, friendship, love, betrayals, trust, magic, power, greed, resilience and courage.
Writing was beautiful, mesmerising, lyrical, magical and fast paced. It was written in first person narrative from Shiori’s POV. Setting of Kiata was amazing.
Plot was full of curse, magic, adventure, politics and secrets.
It started with Shiori grumbling about her betrothal ceremony. She had her secret. There was no magic in Kiata and those with magic were sent away as they can turn into demon but Shiori was born with it. In trying to keep it secret she missed her ceremony but she also caught attention of step-mother, Raikama. Raikama too had magic, much more powerful and dark and she kept it secret. When Shiori caught Raikama performing it in her secret garden, Raikama turned Shiori’s six brothers into Crane and banished Shiori with curse, if she utters or write a word about herself or the curse each of her brothers would die.
It was interesting to read how Shiori, stripped of title, money and voice survive in the world, find her brothers, a way to remove the curse, who would help her and who would betray, what conspiracy could be more shocking than Raikama’s betrayal, and how she was going to save her home and kingdom.
First half of the book was super-fast paced with introduction to characters, world, curse and it’s effect, and characters trying to find a way to lift it. While the second half was about romance and revelations. Some readers might find second half a bit slow and meandering from the main goal of lifting the curse but to be honest I enjoyed it. I’m glad it slowed for a while and I get to know Takkan and his family more.
Shiori was amazing heroine. She was seventh and youngest princess of Kiata. At first, she looked mischievous and petulant but also lonely even with her six brothers who now didn’t have time for her and not happy with her betrothal ceremony as she didn’t want to be married off to a lord from far away province. But as we read more, we see so many sides and characteristics in her. She was great friend and sibling, loyal, courageous, smart, reckless but confident, kind but no fool, determined and resilient. Her love for her brothers and country was admirable. And she was foody. She made me so much hungry in this book.
Her development was amazing. I was really amazed the way she handled all situations from working in inn to kitchen in palace without her title and ever uttering a single sound. She started to appreciate her life at palace through hardship of her journey of breaking curse. She discovered many things about herself, her country and people around her. I loved how she trusted her gut feeling and how her views towards her betrothal and step-mother changed a lot.
Takkan was Shiori’s betrothal and Bushian heir. He was mysterious and I knew from their first meeting who he was. He was kind, lovely, understanding and brave. His story telling trait was unexpected. I enjoyed reading legends through his stories. He won my heart every time he protected Shiori and took her side without knowing who she really was. I felt for him when he told about his heartbreak and pain when Shiori didn’t appear for their ceremony (it my most favourite moment in book) and I loved him even more for the way he reacted when he knew who Shiori was (another amazing moment).
Seryu was lovely surprise. He was grandson of dragon king who saved Shiori in the beginning of the book. He made story even more intriguing. He seemed wise and patient for his age but also cocky. He didn’t appear often in book but I enjoyed every moment between him and Shiori. I have feeling we will know him more in next book.
I almost missed mentioning Kiki! She was cheeky, feisty, logical, and loyal paper bird brought to life by Shiori’s magic. She made the story fun and entertaining. She made me smile and laugh at her comments on perks being ‘paper’ bird and not having actual real bird’s body. I loved her for staying with Shiori all the time in all kind of situation. I wish I have my own bestie paper bird like her.
I enjoyed reading all secondary characters. Family dynamic was my favourite aspect. I enjoyed reading about all six brothers, their characteristic, and bond between all seven siblings, their love for each other and how they all came out of their journey stronger and closer than they were. Stepmother was mot interesting character of all. She was mysterious and we don’t know her real name until the end. I hated her most of the story. I thought I knew why she put the curse and what she wanted but author had surprised me. There was so much more to her than it appeared.
World was best part of the book. It was amazing the way author seamlessly woven retellings of Grimm’s The Six Swans/ Andersen’s The Wild Swans with East and West Asian folklores. Walnut wood and it’s property to contain any kind of magic made more sense in this book than it did in Blood of Stars duology. We explore other side of Alandi, kingdom of Kiata, ocean separating both kingdoms. In Kiata no person had magical ability, magic was forbidden, Alandan enchanters cannot enter Kiata, demons were chained to mountain, and if anyone were found with magic, they were banished from Kiata. I enjoyed reading about lands, history, legends of Kiata, festivals and traditions, gods and goddesses, Taijin sea, dragons, magical plant and objects, dark magic, royal politics and conspiracy. It was all vividly described and was enchanting to read.
Romance was slow built. Both Takkan and Shiori didn’t know much about each other or at least Shiori didn’t and never tried to know him until she actually met him and their meeting was amazing. I loved every scene of them together, their growing friendship, feelings, and relationship. I enjoyed reading how Shiori’s thoughts and feelings for Takkan changed. There were many lovely moments that made me smile.
Twists and turns were well written. Few I could guess but some were surprising and major twist in climax was shocking which came around after 70% of the book. I honestly didn’t expect that and couldn’t guess how this will end. So much happened in this last 30% of the book keeping me on the edge until the end. It was tense, adrenalin filled and so sad. Damn, it almost made me cry. End was perfect, not exactly a cliff hanger, but it made me want to get second book right now (even though it’s title is not released yet). I can’t wait to see what happens in second book.
Overall, Six Crimson Cranes was refreshing, magical, enchanting, intriguing and beautifully written YA fantasy.
I highly recommend this if you like,
Curses and journey to lift them
Intriguing world and characters
Great family dynamic
Arranged marriage trope
Foody Main Character
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