Hello hello and welcome or welcome back to my little bookish corner of the internet. Today I’m sharing with you my review of Six Crimson Cranes, Elizabeth Lim’s East-Asian inspired retelling of the Grimm Brothers fairy tale, The Six Swans.
Shiori’anma, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs in her veins. And 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, 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 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 contain – no matter what it costs.
Firstly – how breathtakingly beautiful is this cover? I admit that this wasn’t purely a cover buy – I did love the sound of the book – but the cover completely captured me. I honestly can’t wait to see the sequel cover because this is a total work of art.
Shiori at first is a cheeky, rather petulant, character, who doesn’t like things not going her way. She comes across as a bit immature, or maybe this is simply the result of a life where things have been easy for her as a princess. Regardless, she is also endearingly stubborn, so when she sets her mind to learning to control her magic, she fully dedicates herself. As part of her magical training, she brings to life a paper crane, Kiki, who keeps her company throughout the book, and is a genuinely hilarious – and supportive – side kick.
When things go wrong, however, they go badly wrong, and the princess finds herself cursed, in the middle of nowhere, with not a single penny, and terrified about the wellbeing of her brothers, who she has no way of contacting, and fears for the lives of. Although she had clearly loved her brothers before this, the fact she is stuck with her own thoughts, and only able to mentally communicate with Kiki, means that Shiori does a lot of thinking. She changes immensely, and the character development between the beginning and end of the book is astounding.
I adored this book. Between the character growth we witness in Shiori, the support and kindness she finds in unexpected places, and the magical mystery that she has to unravel, there was always something happening, often many things happening at once, and keeping track of everything was an enjoyable allocation of energy. There were many parts that didn’t slot into place right until the end, and I’m not ashamed to say I cried as much as I laughed.
This went down as my first five star read of 2022, and I just wish it had come into my life sooner, as these are characters I’m going to struggle to forget for a long time to come.
Thanks for stopping by today for this review, and be sure to check out some of the other posts, already up and upcoming. Maybe even follow me to make sure you never miss a post!