Author: Elizabeth Lim
Publication date: July 6, 2021
Genre: YA fantasy
My rating: 5/5 stars
Six Crimson Cranes was one of my most-anticipated reads of this year–and, I am pleased to report, it exceeded my expectations. Taking the bones of Western fairytales (especially “The Wild Swans”) and reshaping them in an Asian-inspired world brimming with its own unique mythologies, Elizabeth Lim has created a tale that feels at once classic and wholly original. Read through for my review, info on the author, and some quotes from the book, as well as my latest Bookstagram post about this beauty!
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.
This book is positively brimming with things to love. It has classic tropes like a prince in disguise, a fierce princess in exile, and an evil stepmother. It has vibrant new details like a shapeshifting dragon boy, a magical paper bird, and enchanted walnut pouches. It has food descriptions guaranteed to make your mouth water, six loyal brothers you’ll wish were your own, and a multilayered plot that carefully unfolds with each chapter, revealing new depths of magic, adventure, and courtly intrigue. Fans of Lim’s previous duology, The Blood of Stars, will delight in the small Easter eggs she has hidden throughout the book (this story takes place in a different kingdom within the same world, so there are small references to it everywhere). And it all unfolds in beautiful language that makes you feel like you’re reading a chain of fairytales, all linked together, equal parts beautiful and brutal, by turns heartwarming and heartbreaking.
I would say more, but I think my thoughts would just turn into nonstop gushing–and this is a book that has so many layers, it’s really better to just dive in and experience them all. Just do yourself a favor: pick this one up, and prepared to be whisked away to a magical world you won’t want to leave. (And, actually, you don’t have to leave quite yet–this is going to be a series, so there’s more to come!)
These are just a few of my favorite quotes I highlighted while reading this absolute gem of a book:
- “Don’t teach a dragon history, Princess, especially not magic history.”
- Fear is just a game, I repeated to myself, over and over. You win by playing.
- Pain didn’t get easier. I just had to get stronger.
- “Find the light that makes your lantern shine . . . Hold on to it, even when the dark surrounds you. Not even the strongest wind will blow out the flame.”
- “One doesn’t need magic to be dangerous, Shiori . . . A reputation is all it takes to spread fear. And fear is a mighty weapon.”
The other hosts on this tour have been hard at work creating more content about this book–playlists, quotes, mood boards, book looks, and even a post about cranes and mythology! You can find a full schedule of all the stops, including both blogs and Bookstagrams, HERE.
About the Author
Elizabeth Lim is the author of the critically-acclaimed and bestselling The Blood of Stars duology (Spin the Dawn and Unravel the Dusk), the New York Times bestseller So This is Love, and the USA Today bestseller Reflection. Forthcoming books include the Six Crimson Cranes duology, expected summer 2021 and summer 2022, respectively.
Elizabeth grew up on a hearty staple of fairy tales, myths, and songs. Her passion for storytelling began around age 10, when she started writing fanfics for Sailor Moon, Sweet Valley, and Star Wars, and posted them online to discover, “Wow, people actually read my stuff. And that’s kinda cool!” But after one of her teachers told her she had “too much voice” in her essays, Elizabeth took a break from creative writing to focus on not flunking English.
Over the years, Elizabeth became a film and video game composer, and even went so far as to get a doctorate in music composition. But she always missed writing, and she turned to penning stories when she needed a breather from grad school. One day, she decided to write and finish a novel—for kicks, at first, then things became serious—and she hasn’t looked back since.
Elizabeth graduated from Harvard College with an A.B. in music and a secondary in East Asian Studies, and she completed her graduate degrees (MM, DMA) at The Juilliard School. She grew up in Northern California and Tokyo, Japan, and now resides in New York with her husband and two daughters.
If you’ve stuck with the post this long, you may as well get a “reward” for it. Here’s the picture of this book I took for the Bookstagram leg of this tour. The sticker at the top was part of the pack of preorder incentives this book came with (yes, I loved it so much that I bought a hard copy!), and that sad little paper bird was my attempt at recreating Kiki, the magical paper crane that accompanies Shiori on her adventures throughout the book.
Thank you to TBR and Beyond Tours and Knopf Books for Young Readers for providing me with an eARC of this book via NetGalley as part of my participation in this tour! All opinions are my own.