I’m reviewing today my new favorite Elizabeth Lim novel. I read this only a month ago and it seems like I read it ages ago. I still remember that Sunday when I sat down and read this book; I was so into the story that I never realized that a whole day had passed by. I couldn’t wait to speak about this book, and today I can finally do it.
I’m so excited to be part of this tour. Thanks to TBR and Beyond Tours for giving me a spot on this tour.
About the Book
Title: Six Crimson Cranes • By: Elizabeth Lim
Published by: Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random House Children’s)• On: 6 July 2021
Pace: Fast • Pages: 464 • Age: 12+
Series: Six Crimson Cranes #1 • Genre: Young Adult Fantasy • Rating: 4.5/5 🌟
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.
I received an eARC of this book from Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random House Children’s) courtesy of NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and ideas expressed here are my own.
Feel free to check the Tour Scehdule to know who all are taking part in this tour and to follow more updates on this tour.
Rep: East Asian Cast, Disability
• Forbidden Magic
This is the second time I’m reading about a bride running away on her wedding day. Though Shiori and Addie ran away for two different reasons, the similarities were there.
We meet Shiori swathed in silk for her wedding to Lord Bushian’s son, Takkan. It’s an arranged marriage, one which she doesn’t want to happen at all costs. She never planned on running away but because her paper crane, Kiki (her only friend and pet), flew away from her sleeves, she went chasing after it and found herself drowning in the river.
Shiori would’ve ignored Kiki if magic was allowed in Kiata. But magic in any form is forbidden in Kiata, so she was worried she’d lose her only friend and so ran behind it. Shiori gets scolded by her father and is asked to embroider with her step-mom. She hates embroidery and dislikes her step-mom, so both these tasks are too much for her, and she has to see it through without complaining and getting more scoldings.
It’s through some unfortunate turn of events, Shiori and her six brothers get cursed by their stepmother. What unravels in the rest of the novel is all about Shiori and her brothers trying to find a way to undo the curse cast on them. It’s an adventurous journey filled with dragons, ghosts, and snakes.
That’s the gist of the novel, and I’m trying to keep it deliberately vague. Now coming to the characters, Shiori sounded a lot like a spoiled girl, like the princess she was. She was too curious and excited about learning more about her world in the first half. I liked reading about how she changed from being a coddled child to a responsible, self-dependent girl in the second half. All in all, this was a reverse of Cinderella in many ways than I could think of.
It’s not every day where you can see a person getting cursed to wear a helmet and learn to live with that. Shiori wasn’t supposed to speak about what happened to her and her brothers, and the helmet wasn’t making things easy for her. It was through a lot of difficulties she found a job and could speak to others through signs. She was definitely an interesting character to read about. Without the helmet, I wouldn’t have liked her more, but the curse somehow made her more likable to me.
How many times have you read about a dragon lifting its eyebrow? I’ve seen only mortals and mundanes doing that, but a dragon, never. Seryu was the grandson of Dragon King and another friend to Shiori. I liked his sense of humour and how he helped Shiori and her brothers more than they expected. I wish he was more frequently present in the story, he was not often seen, but all his entries were timed perfectly.
Takkan was a surprising character. Even Shiori expected him to be the worst person, but he was a very sweet guy. He went out of his way to protect his family and people. We get to meet him only in the second half of the novel, but his appearance added more spice to the story. People in his castle were quite the dramatic crowd too.
I liked his sister. She was such an animated person and instantly became friends with Shiori. I loved her bond with Takkan, and I want to see more of her in the next book.
• Six Crimson Crowns
Shiori’s brothers were turned into cranes, thanks to their stepmother. The only way she could identify them was with the crowns in their heads. There was a loophole to the curse, though. The brothers could turn into humans after dusk and cranes in the dawn, so they could shape-shift because of the curse. We don’t know why the stepmother cursed these guys. We are only revealed with the reason in the end, and it was a very clever move.
Since this is my third novel by Lim, I found a few similarities between this book and The Blood of Stars series. The most obvious one was the family bond. Shiori is the knot that holds her six brothers together. Each one was different and yet loved Shiroi in their own way. I’d be lying if I told that they were all close before the curse, but it was blatantly clear that the curse brought them all together. In many ways, the curse was a boon to them than they could’ve imagined.
• The dragons are out to play
The magic in this book was far more nuanced here than in The Blood Stars series. I loved the dragon king’s part, where the people interpreted that his anger was the cause for thunder and storm. Some other myths and legends were also included, which were crucial to the plot and excellently fused in the story.
I had come across paper cranes in Unravel the Dusk. There it was just a story about a neighboring kingdom of old time. But here, we get to see the story itself. It was an unexpected crossover, especially the ending, which was terrific.
It’s safe to say that Six Crimson Cranes is my favorite Elizabeth Lim’s novel till date. The writing and magic were pronounced and executed better in this novel, raising my expectations for the next installment in the series. The second half of the novel was a bit sluggish and leaning towards more on the romantic side, but the plot was more absorbing, so I didn’t mind getting diverted. There were a lot of twists, betrayals, and revelations, that were too much to take in at a time, but it made me like a character more.
Six Crimson Cranes is an unputdownable, beguiling fantasy. I read it in one sitting and can’t recommend it enough to everyone.
Magic has many threads. The same enchantment cast with joy will have an entirely different result when cast with sorrow, or anger—or fear.
CW// Drowning Imagery, Blood, Violence
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.
Have you read this book or is it on your TBR? Let me know your thoughts on it in the comments.
“You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.”
— Paul Sweeney