Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours, as well as the author and publisher for giving me a copy of ‘Six Crimson Cranes’ in exchange for an unbiased, and honest review!! This is my stop for the tour, and you can click the banner below to view the full schedule, and explore other posts!!
Title: Six Crimson Cranes
Author: Elizabeth Lim
Publisher: Knopf – Penguin Random House (US); Hodder & Stoughton (UK)
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Retelling
Series: Yes, this is Book #1
Publication Date: July 6, 2021
Trigger Warnings: Banishment, Burns, Near death experiences, Abuse, Kidnapping, Confinement
Final Rating: 4.5 stars
Synopsis (via Goodreads):
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’m not afraid of anything.” How often had I uttered the same words. But they were always a lie, and I had a feeling Seryu was lying, too.
Six Crimson Cranes was an enchanting, bewitching retake on the beloved Children’s classic – The Wild Swans. When I was a child, my dad used to read me Hans Christian Andersen’s stories to sleep every night through this giant book of his stories I had, and The Wild Swans was one of my favourites. At that time, one of my favourite parts of the story was the sibling relationships, and how each of the princes, as well as the princess cared so much for each other.
But, even now, nearly 10 years later, the sibling relationships in Elizabeth Lim’s retelling tugged at my heartstrings. Everything from the banter, to the unexpected “are you okay?”, and overprotectiveness hit close to home, and was so well written. It wasn’t just Shiori’s and her brother’s relationship that I loved reading, but also Takkan’s and Megari’s – because that, too, wa so heartwarming and beautiful. There was so much care, and thought put behind every sibling interaction written, and that was something I truly appreciated.
The romance, also miraculously did not actually ruin the book, and,I’m so happy, that I thought the love interest was actually swoon-worthy! Usually I love a YA fantasy, and it’s the half-hearted romance with two characters who have no chemistry that destroys it for me, but this time, I found myself rooting for the romance, and the main relationship.
Although all of these characters and their personalities complimented, and fit with each other so well, the characters on their own were also three-dimensional and well fleshed out, plus the growth, and the character arcs (especially Shiori’s) were simply phenomenal. We see Shiori grow from someone who’s slightly selfish, and extremely mischievous, to somewhat more of a listener, and that progress in maturity levels was so well developed, I couldn’t help but fall in love with her character along the way.
Pain didn’t get easier. I just had to get stronger.
Elizabeth Lim’s storytelling sucked me into the story right from page one, and I fell in love with the rich world she created. With references to multiple myths, and a blend of cultures in the story, I fell straight into the beautiful fairytale-esque world. The narrative pulls you in, and the vivid descriptions help make all of the myths and folklore jump off the page, and come to life.
The legends and folktales incorporated into the plot helped Six Crimson Cranes stand out from The Wild Swans, and I think it’s one of the things that truly set both of these lush stories apart. The references to the original story were there, and formed the core plot, but everything else was new, unique, and seemed to jump off the page as I read.
But I’d been wrong. I had underestimated music. Megari plucked a yearning chord, and my heart ached fiercely, as if its own strings had been tugged.
The writing, and prose in this gorgeous novel invoked so many emotions and reactions within me. It was whimsical, lyrical, and added to the atmosphere as well as the mood. Although the prose was lilting, and delicate, the pacing was never slow, or tiresome, and I flew through the pages.
The beautiful writing also helped add to the world building, and brought all the wonderful settings in the book to life. I could picture everything from the desolate, picturesque snowy mountains, to the bustling, crowded city during festivals, and I think that’s what made Six Crimson Cranes all the more magical.
There was nothing, really, wrong in this book, or anything I didn’t enjoy, but I just wish we had more. Raikama (the stepmother) was such a complex, intricately written character, but there wasn’t too much of a focus on her, and her thoughts.
Her character arcs was one of my favourites, and in this interview that Cherelle had with the author, it’s mentioned that a prequel/short story about Raikama was really how Shiori’s story bloomed – so I’m hoping that, in the future, that short story will be published as a novella, and we get more of an insight into Raikama’s character.
“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”
Six Crimson Cranes is a story about growth. About sacrificing, and fighting for the things you love, but most of all, about hope. A retelling of The Wild Swans, Elizabeth Lim builds on the original story, and makes it her own with gorgeous worldbuilding, focus on the importance of fighting for good, as well as heartwarming family dynamics. Shiori’s story provided a perfect, whimsical, escape from reality, and I flew through all 464 pages in one sitting!
About the Author
Elizabeth Lim 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 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 loves classic film scores, books with a good romance, food (she currently has a soft spot for arepas and Ethiopian food), the color turquoise, overcast skies, English muffins, cycling, and baking. She lives in New York City with her husband.