A Wild Swans Retelling

Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

Publication Date: July 6, 2021

Summary from NetGalley:

Shiori’anma, 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.

A sorceress in her own right, Raikama banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes. She warns 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 uncovers a dark conspiracy to seize the throne. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in a paper bird, a mercurial dragon, and the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to forswear–no matter what the cost.

Weaving together elements of The Wild Swans, Cinderella, the legend of Chang E, and the Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, Elizabeth Lim has crafted a fantasy like no other, and one that will stay with readers long after they’ve turned the last page.

ARC provided by Random House Children’s via NetGalley for an honest review.

Confession:

The main thing that I loved about this book was how well the European fairytales were woven with the Asian culture and folktales to produce a wholly new story that was just wonderful! The writing was amazing and at times you could really feel like you were there in the story going through the same hardships as Shiori.

Shiori was also a wonderful character. She went through so much growth, starting as a spoiled and head strong princess, to doing what she must in order to survive a terrible curse. She is the sole narrator and for most of the book we are totally in her head. Besides her being clever and creative, she was also able to see the good in people even when they maybe didn’t deserve it. I also loved her relationship with Kiki, a paper crane that she brought to life and is her friend and confidant throughout the story. Kiki was a times the only comfort that Shiori had and sometimes she was the comic relief we all needed.

I loved her relationship with her brothers, although they could be a problem at times. They did not allow her to grow as she should, trying to shelter her and protect her when she really didn’t need them too. We don’t see a whole lot of the brothers, and they did tend to be one dimensional, but that was ok. They were not the focus of the story.

The romance between Shiori and Takkan was well done. Slow and sweet, with a lot of misunderstandings at the start. I really liked Takkan and how he loved to tell stories. He was also wonderful with his sister. But he could be tough, as well, when he needed to be especially when Shiori or his sister were in danger.

I really liked Seryu, the dragon that Shiori befriends at the start of the story. I would have like to see more of him, but it looks like the second book will be more about the dragons and their role in this world. I can’t wait to see more of him and learn more about his world.

Lots of evil characters in this one, and some who turned out to not be quite what they seemed at the start. Raikama was really good as the evil stepmother, but there was way more to her than anyone suspected. I loved her story and how things were not what you expected.

As always the writing is just suburb, and you will find yourself totally immersed in this world. Although the characters are very much a part of the story and are what drives the plot, the overall story is what will captivate your heart. I just loved the mix of European fairytales with Asian culture and folktales.

Another stunning story from this very talented author. If you loved Spin the Dawn then you really need to get this book. You will end up loving it just as much or more as her first duology.

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