Book Review: Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

Six Crimson Cranes

Author: Elizabeth Lim
Series: Six Crimson Cranes, book 1
Publisher:  Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers (July 6, 2021)
Hardcover, 464 pages
Fantasy, YA Fantasy, Retellings


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.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Wild Swans is one of my favorite fairy tales, and I’m always thrilled to find a new retelling of this amazing story. I loved this version, and especially enjoyed all the unexpected places that Elizabeth Lim took it.

While this does have an element of romance to it, I feel like that’s a bit of where it was lacking for me. There’s also a potential love triangle, which I LOVE, and I’m hoping it comes into play more in the next book because I have MAJOR second lead syndrome for Seryu! You’ve got your straight-laced cinnamon roll, and your off-limits rapscallion… DELICIOUS.

Elizabeth Lim builds lush, imaginative worlds and describes them so vividly it feels like you’re really there, tasting the glutinous rice cakes stuffed with apricots right along with Shiori. (Ok, yes, this book made me hungry!) The characters are so fully formed that even Kiki, the paper bird, has a personality that practically leaps off the page. I love the journey that Shiori goes through, seeing the world (and herself) through a new lens and coming to appreciate so much that she’d taken for granted while still remaining true to who she is at her core.

This is the first book in a duology. The main plotlines from this book are wrapped up and it can be read as a stand-alone novel, but it also adds additional layers to the story throughout this book that lay the groundwork for the next book, and it ends in a way that’s clearly the beginning of the next book. So if you’re someone who absolutely CAN’T do cliffhangers, maybe wait for the next book to release – but also this book is so great, don’t wait on it, haha!

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