Review: Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

Summary: Shiori, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. On the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. Her mistake catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother, who 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.

While searching for her brothers, Shiori uncovers a conspiracy to overtake the throne. 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.

Genre: fantasy, young adult
Rating:  ★★★★★

I admittedly picked this book for the gorgeous cover, and it was a pleasant surprise to fall in love with this story so easily. Initially I wondered if this might follow a common trope of YA fantasy novels where the main character is a bit insufferable, she’s a magical princess, and the romance either follows a tired love triangle or they go from enemies to lovers. Shiori is a magical princess, but while her title is mentioned often, she’s one of the strongest, smartest princesses I’ve ever read about. The romance in this story is sweet and doesn’t take control of the entire plot, which was incredibly fun.

This book is based on a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale called The Wild Swans, in which a princess must rescue her eleven brothers from a spell cast by an evil queen. I’m not overly familiar with this fairytale, but I loved this adaptation of it and found the entire story extremely enjoyable. The main plot follows Shiori as she and her brothers are banished from the kingdom. Along the way, Shiori tries to find and save her brothers; weave a net made of star stroke, a magical plant forged by gods to capture the heart of her evil stepmother; and maybe fall in love along the way. Oh, and there’s also a sea dragon who Shiori befriends in the midst of all the chaos who may or may not be leading her astray.

There are so many layers to this story, but what I loved most was watching Shiori grow as the story progressed. Being the youngest of seven brothers, Shiori was a bit reckless, impulsive, and childish. Once Shiori is banished and forced to be on her own, she learns to overcome her fears and starts facing her problems head-on instead of running away from them, the way she always had when she had the protection of her brothers and home life.

There are times in the beginning of the story where I felt anxious for the decisions she was making because I knew it would lead to disaster, but she learns from every choice and becomes a better person overall by the end, finally understanding the needs and wants of not just herself, but also her brothers and those around her. Once Shiori learns that she is the only person who can break the curse put on her and save the entire kingdom, she boldly rises to the occasion. This book is 450 pages, which gives Shiori plenty of time to realistically grow as a person. Her growth never once felt rushed, which made me enjoy her character even more.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn this book has a sequel coming out in August, because everything wrapped up neatly by the end (another reason I loved this book – no unnecessary plot breaks for the sake of a trilogy). I can’t wait to see where the second book takes Shiori.

“Find the light that makes your lantern shine,” she used to say. “Hold on to it, even when the dark surrounds you. Not even the strongest wind will blow out the flame.”

3 thoughts on “Review: Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

  1. Oh good, I’m glad you like it. I have a physical copy of this book and I keep meaning to read it, and haven’t gotten around to it. I will def do it soon!


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