Friday, July 2, 2021

ARC Review: Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

Title: Six Crimson Cranes
Series: Sic Crimson Cranes #1
Author: Elizabeth Lim
Source/Format: Netgalley; eARC 
More Details: Fantasy; Young Adult; Retelling
Publisher/Publication Date: Knopf; July 6, 2021

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Synopsis from 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.

Six Crimson Cranes was one of my most anticipated releases of 2021, because it’s a retelling of one of my favorite fairy tales: The Six Swans. And wow, this was a fantastic story. It had all the hallmarks of a fairy tale complete with a richly realized world, endearing characters, and a story that was engrossing from the first page to the last.

Six Crimson Cranes was the kind of story that gradually eases the reader into the world. It spent a good enough amount of time on the characters and the world before the bulk of the story began. At times tragic, yet always hopeful, Six Crimson Cranes took the essence of The Six Swans. But it gave the story unique spin set against the backdrop of a detailed historical setting. I loved all the little nuances with the food, manner of dress, traditions, magic, and the architectural keywords that made the setting come alive.

The characters were another high point of the story. Lim did an excellent job on them, and I liked all the individual arcs that each one went through.

Shiori was, by far, one of my favorites. She had the most character growth among all of them. Toward the beginning, she was reluctant to fulfill her role as a princess. However, I felt like that had more to do with the changes coming to her life—getting married, moving away, and feeling like she was growing apart from her older brothers as they settled into their respective royal roles. The fear of the unknown was an early source of tension. She felt unheard, but it wasn’t until she couldn’t tell anyone anything—not even to ask for help—that she began to face the truths about her own secrets, and the truth about people she thought she knew all her life.

Six Crimson Cranes was an excellent story. It was a highly enjoyable read, and I was a big fan of the way the mystery played out. And in some ways the conclusion was satisfying for part of the story. Yet, there were also several outstanding questions that will likely be answered in the sequel.

If you like retellings, then I can’t recommend this one enough.

About the author.....

Elizabeth Lim is the author of the critically-acclaimed and bestselling The Blood of Stars duology (Spin the Dawn and Unravel the Dusk), the New York Times bestseller So This is Love, and the USA Today bestseller Reflection. Forthcoming books include the Six Crimson Cranes duology, expected summer 2021 and summer 2022, respectively. Elizabeth graduated from Harvard College with an A.B. in music and a secondary in East Asian Studies, and she completed her graduate degrees (MM, DMA) at The Juilliard School. She grew up in Northern California and Tokyo, Japan, and now resides in New York with her husband and two daughters....

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Disclaimer: This copy of the book was provided by the publisher (Knopf) via Netgalley for this review, thank you!

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