Title: Six Crimson Cranes
Series: Six Crimson Cranes #1
Author: Elizabeth Lim
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: July 6th, 2021 (Alfred A. Knopf BYR)
Synopsis: 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.
Thank you to the publisher, Penguin Teen Canada, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Shiori’anma is the princess of Kiata, and as the seventh child and only girl has lacked for nothing, beloved by both her father and brothers. But she has long hidden a dangerous secret – she possesses magic, forbidden in Kiata. When on the morning of her betrothal ceremony to Takkan, a lord from the distant north, she loses control over it, it brings her to the attention of Raikama, her stepmother. Unknown to everyone, Raikama is a sorceress, and with dark magic, turns the six princes into cranes and strands Shiori on a remote island with a warning that for every word she speaks, one of her brothers will die. Voiceless and alone, Shiori is determined to find her brothers and break the curse, but in the process, stumbles upon a deeper conspiracy that stretches far beyond Raikama’s betrayal. It’s up to her to restore Kiata to what it used to be, and when she unexpectedly crosses paths with Takkan, learning to trust him could be crucial to her success as danger draws closer.
“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.”
I had pretty high expectations for this book after how much I enjoyed the Spin the Dawn duology, and Six Crimson Cranes managed to exceed all of them! Set in the same world as A’landi, this book certainly had its share of magic, myth and lore, but what I personally appreciated more was the complex plot and trying to figure out what each character’s motivations were, because things are definitely not what they seem at first glance. Elizabeth Lim’s writing is beautiful and she has a wonderful way of bringing the world and characters to life such that it transports the reader into this riveting story that is impossible to put down.
This book is entirely narrated from Shiori’s perspective, and it works, because she has the most to endure and learn, going from princess to nameless, faceless servant girl in the blink of an eye. I did feel that this part of Shiori going through all these hardships stretched too long at times but her transformation from a sheltered, spoiled and headstrong princess we first meet is perfectly portrayed. There is still so much more room for her character to grow, which I feel is a very good sign for the sequel. The romance between Shiori and Takkan was very sweet, and I liked that it didn’t distract too much from the story. I wondered for a while if Seryu, the dragon prince, was going to be a love interest but I’m glad that didn’t happen. I was quite disappointed though, that Seryu didn’t have a more central role to play, and apart from the few magic lessons he gives Shiori, he hardly features, so I hope that will change in the next book. I also really enjoyed Raikama’s character, to my surprise and her role was an intriguing one.
While Shiori’s character arc is excellent, one area that was lacking was any actual explanation of her magic itself. Of course, with her magic being blocked for much of the book, there weren’t too many opportunities for her to actually do anything, but some more background as to the nature of her abilities would have been nice.
The ending wrapped up far more plot points that I expected it would for the first book, but it also leaves things at a very interesting place going into the sequel, with a possible reappearance of a familiar foe. I’m really curious to see if this means we might get some sort of cameo from Maia or Edan. Six Crimson Cranes was a fantastic read, and a fast-paced adventure. I really enjoyed this book inspired by old fairytales and folklore, and would highly recommend it to fans of both fantasy novels and retellings! This is definitely one book not to be missed this summer!
Six Crimson Cranes releases on July 6th, 2021.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
All quotes in this review were taken from an advance reader’s edition and may differ from the final version of the book.
Other reviews in this series: