Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim is a fantastic start to a new duology. Shiori is a trouble-maker, and a liar, but magic changes her life.
All quotes are from an advanced reader copy. They may or may not reflect the published edition.
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.
“What a waste to have wings that cannot fly.”
Elizabeth Lim has returned with another book weaving cultural tales into a fantasy. This story was beautiful and intriguing. Shiori is a bit of a selfish, trouble-making princess. She causes chaos for her family, including her six brothers. After meeting a dragon and learning about her own magic, she is banished. This begins the journey where Shiori must learn to be everything she never has been: quiet, compliant, and hard working. The character growth Shiori experiences was fantastically done. While she holds to her moral groundings, she still actively becomes a better person. And sometimes, poison is medicine.
“I was tired of needing to be clever. Of needing to figure things out.”
The romance in this story is truly a semi-unrequited slow burn for the majority of it. This is one of my preferred forms of romance in books, and I loved the way it played out altogether. Takkan has many stories to tell, and it was nice to see some of this lore be brought into a fantasy book in this way. I found even the side characters interesting. However, we didn’t get to know much of the brothers (understandable, since they’re cranes), and I expected a little more in that aspect. Additionally, there were times where the pacing made the timeline somewhat confusing. While this always cleared itself up, it did leave me lost at moments.
“If you’re not afraid, I won’t be either. I’ll stay with you to the end, Shiori.”
The ending of this book had me on the edge of my seat. I wanted nothing more than a happy ending for Shiori, her brothers, and Takkan. I really loved the way it was set up for the second book. It did feel a bit similar to Lim’s previous duology “Spin the Dawn”, but regardless, I enjoyed it. This was a fantastic story, weaving lore, romance, and life lessons all together in the end.
“And this too, I will overcome.”
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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