Where do I start?
In a kingdom which has banned magic and banished all demons to the Holy Mountains, Princess Shiori must hide her magical blood from those around her, in particular her six brothers, her mysterious stepmother and her father, the Emperor.
However, when a combination of magic and stubbornness derails Shiori’s betrothal ceremony the princess discovers that she is not the only family member hiding their gift. After spying on her stepmother, Shiori is convinced that her father’s wife is a demon and turns to her brothers…with disastrous consequences.
With her six brothers transformed into cranes, Shiori is alone, cast far away from the palace and forced to remain mute: for every word she utters, one brother will die! She is also unrecognisable, her magic is locked and she cannot reveal her past to anyone. Powerless, abandoned and mute- can Shiori save her six older brothers and return home to defeat her stepmother?
Shiori herself is an amazing protagonist. She is young, impulsive, stubborn but also has the biggest heart. Her love for her brothers (and food) is integral to her personality and the comfort she takes in the memories of her mother is beautiful.
Initially, Shiori’s life may appear to be a fairytale with extravagant robes and magnificent palaces. Maybe that is why Lim creates a fairytale-worthy curse? With a lost voice, a lost pink slipper and a city put to sleep, Elizabeth Lim certainly showcases some of the magic we saw in her Disney Twisted Tale novels.
Shiori’s journey to save her brothers is one of tremendous bravery and courage and it is along this path that the princess truly discovers her inner strength. She also matures immensely (it’s probably inevitable when your stepmother curses you) but Shiori experiences the hardships of the world around her, learns who to trust and realises that sometimes poison (or a curse) can be a “medicine in disguise”.
The supporting cast within Six Crimson Cranes are also incredible. Seryu the dragon prince with his ruby eyes and green hair clearly cares for Shiori. Will he try to sway her affections in book two? He will have to compete with Takkan, the loyal, picture-perfect prince who protected Shiori when no-one else did, long before he knew her true identity.
Shiori’s stepmother, Raikama, was possibly the most complex character. Despite only being present at the beginning and end of the novel, she spends 90% of the book as a villain – and the reader is fully on board with this! However, Lim’s ingenious use of Shiori’s faint memories help her piece together an unfathomable puzzle: why would Raikama curse the siblings instead of killing them? Is this linked to her stepmother’s magic and her mysterious past?
The world building in Six Crimson Cranes is magical. Without breaking the flow of the novel Lim perfectly creates the kingdom of Kiata in our minds, from the manicured grounds of the palace during the Summer Festival, with kites bobbing against azure skies, to the bleak but beautiful Iro, overlooked by Rabbit mountain, glittering in the light of the silver moon. Elizabeth Lim truly transports her readers to these beautiful but dangerous landscapes.
Six Crimson Cranes is a book which surpassed all my expectations. The world building is as magical as its fairy-tale undertones and the characters already feel like old friends. I don’t think I can wait another year for the sequel!
Thank you so so much to Netgalley for providing this amazing opportunity! I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review…and now I’m off to pre-order the real thing!