Today is my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for one of my most anticipated reads of the year: Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim!
Special thanks to Knopf for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Be sure to click on the banner above to check out the rest of the amazing bloggers on tour!
Goodreads: Six Crimson Cranes
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 06 July 2021
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
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.
BUY A COPY:
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.
Note: The quotes below are taken from an advanced/unfinished copy and are subject to change in the final version.
TL;DR: Six Crimson Cranes was as enchanting and fairytale-esque as I thought (and hoped) it would be! There was magic, folklore, mythical dragons, enchanted animals, frightening demons, wicked sorceresses, a sweet budding romance—oh my! Set in the same fantastical universe as her Blood of Stars duology, Lim creates a beautifully written story mixing Western and Eastern folktales with a simple yet engaging plot, beautiful world-building, and a large cast of characters that you will love, hate, and root for. This is my new favourite by Lim and I can’t wait for more! 😍
I’ve been so excited to get my hands on Six Crimson Cranes ever since I heard about it, and I’m so happy to say that this anticipated read was every bit as wonderful as I hoped it would be! I’m gonna try to be as coherent as possible in this review but also, I just want to nonsensically gush about how much I loved it? So I’m sorry if this is a rambling and repetitive mess but at least you’ll know that I really loved it! 😂
Though it had a bit of a slow start, it doesn’t take long for the story to pick up. It was so easy to immerse myself in this rich world full of enchantment and folklore. One of my favourite aspects of Lim’s books is her ability to spin a story combining Western and Eastern fairytales and folktales/myths. The writing is simply put: magical! It’s such a beautifully crafted story it’s almost poetic. Lim’s words are infused with a whimsical yearning that’s commonly found in fairytales, making it easy to be swept away into this fantastical world she has built. There’s plenty of magic, mythical dragons, enchanted birds and snakes, frightening demons, wicked sorceresses—oh my!
“She made an ocean out of her tears and painted the sky with her dreams. And her hair outshone every light and star in the universe. So radiant were her tresses that the sun asked for a lock and wore it as a necklace to illuminate the world.”
This book is set in the same universe as Lim’s first duology and I loved coming back and recognising familiar elements in the world-building and storytelling—but you can also see how Lim has really developed as a storyteller! That said, even if you haven’t read her first duology, the world-building is pretty simple and it’s easy to picture the landscapes, and it’s atmospheric enough that you can almost feel the heat of those hot summer days and the chilling bite of the winter cold. Also, I dare you to not get hungry reading this because the main character, Shiori, had a great love for food that I could (really) relate to and all the times she talked about food had my mouth watering like nobody’s business!
There’s a wide cast of characters who were both easy to love and hate. There were so many heartwarming and heartbreaking moments between them which only served to make me that much more invested in their outcomes! The story is told through the eyes of Shiori, the princess of Kiata, the youngest of seven royal children and the only girl. I was admittedly worried that I’d struggle to enjoy this when we first meet her as she comes across as an entitled, spoiled and petulant princess. She’d say and do whatever she pleased and often with little thought for anyone but herself. However, her character development was one of my favourite aspects of the story. Shiori experiences a well-developed introspective journey as, once she’s cursed by her stepmother, she can no longer speak or act thoughtlessly, which allows her to reflect on her past actions and attitudes, and her growth made me want to root for her all the more! What I really admired about her was that, despite being thrown into a completely life-altering situation where she had no one but herself to rely on, she quickly gathered her wits and fought like hell to make her way. A surprise character that I ended up loving was Kiki—who knew an enchanted paper crane could be so entertaining and sassy? Kiki’s voice was surprisingly fun and I loved the friendship she developed with Shiori. I can’t wait for more of these two!
Aside from Shiori, we also have her six brothers who were turned into cranes when their stepmother cursed them. As in Lim’s first novels, she does a fantastic job in creating and exploring realistic sibling (and overall family) bonds. Shiori used to be close to her brothers but as they grew up, that close bond faded. Despite their differences in both age and personalities, you can tell how much they enjoy each other’s company and how much love and respect there was between them as the curse bonded them again. Without giving spoilers, I also appreciated the relationship between Shiori and Raikama—it took a surprising turn and it was very bittersweet. What I really wanted was to learn a bit more about Raikama’s past as I was curious to know more!
“‘He’s just a friend, I told them all with a flick of my wrist.‘
‘He’d have to be a good friend to ride off after a girl with a bowl on her head, says your brother Reiji.’
Kiki snickered from within my sleeve, and I glared. ‘Yes, he’s a good friend.'”
Then we come to the romantic interest and the romance itself. A good portion of the story is spent in the north, in the home of Shiori’s betrothed, Takkan. Y’know, I thought I loved the romance in The Blood of Stars but I think I loved this even more? Takkan was such a soft romantic and kindhearted young man! Ah, I loved him so much! I also really loved his spirited younger sister, Megari, and his sweet relationship with her! With his penchant for spinning enchanting stories, for writing love letters, for singing folktales to life, it’s no wonder he easily wormed his way into my heart and had me swooning with his sweetness! ❤️ I think Lim really has a talent for creating heroes that are soft/sweet and charming, and full of strength and wisdom. I want more of this!
Overall, this was a thoroughly enchanting story that I didn’t want to put down but also didn’t want it to end! I did find the ending a bit rushed as things wrapped up so quickly, but there was a very unexpected tie-in to a character from the first duology that threw me for a loop, and I was shocked when I read that name at the end! 💀 But now I’m even more excited for book two because I have a feeling we can expect a helluva lot more magic, dragons, demons and (hopefully) more of that swoon-worthy romance, too!
Have you read Six Crimson Cranes or is it on your TBR?