Six Crimson Cranes (Six Crimson Cranes #1) by Elizabeth Lim
Published by Knopf Books
Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date : July 6th 2021
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.
“We all have our secrets. One day, Shiori, you’ll have your own.”
ARC provided by the publisher Knopf Books through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
An enchanting story of an exiled princess and her six brothers cursed by their step mother after they discover her true identity. Princess Shiori is Kiata’s only last hope to unraveling the wicked conspiracies that threatens the throne all the while silenced and her identity hidden.
First and foremost I would like to thank TBR and Beyond Tours for choosing me as one of the many amazing book bloggers for Six Crimson Cranes tour from July 5th to July 11th. Thank you as well to the author and publisher Knopf Books for providing an ARC (Advance Readers Copy) as part of this blog tour.
“But not all poison is bad. Sometimes it’s a medicine in disguise.”
Towards the end of 2020 there were many announcements of new books releasing in 2021, one of those books that caught my eye with a STUNNING cover is Elizabeth Lim’s first book to a new series, Six Crimson Cranes. Following up Lim’s success with The Blood of the Stars duology, Spin the Dawn and Unravel the Dusk, she is back drawing inspiration from a classic fairytale story The Wild Swans by Hans Christian Andersen and East Asian folklore. I have never read a book by Elizabeth Lim so this will be my first ever experience reading a book by Lim. Going into this book I went in completely blank and throughout reading the book I had zero expectations. I surrendered myself fully to Elizabeth Lim’s writing and story telling.
Before I dive deeper into my review I want to put a spotlight to both the UK version and the US version of the book. The US version is done by award winning Vietnamese-American illustrator Tran Nguyen, the same cover artist that made the covers for Elizabeth Lim’s The Blood of the Stars duology. Cover design is done by Alison Impey and lettering by Alix Northrup. OH MY GOD! It is so stunning and it is done with acrylic and colored pencil, you can see the strokes in every inch of the illustration. To check out more of Tran Nguyen’s art visit her website here. For the UK version I can’t seem to find info on it but it is as equally as stunning as the US version. The UK covers for Spin the Dawn and Unravel the Dusk is also has the same design as the covers of Six Crimson Cranes so all three books will look so good on your shelf.
“One day you won’t say that. One day, you’ll despise me.”
Six Crimson Cranes is an enchanting story that takes place in Kiata, Kingdom of the Nine Eternal Courts and the Holy Mountains of Fortitude. In the story we follow Princess Shiori’anma, the youngest child and only daughter of Emperor Hanriyu. Princess Shiori is no ordinary princess, she has a secret that will doom her life to exile. That secret is magic. Magic is deemed non existent and evil in Kiata. Because of this Shiori tries her best in hiding this secret from her family, especially her father the Emperor. Since she was a child, Princess Shiori is betrothed to the son of a third ranking warlord. Adamant about her future of being married to a stranger Shiori lives her life in the castle to her fullest by eating good food and sometimes skipping her lessons. Even though Shiori’s life turned out to be more lonely with her six older brothers : Andahai, Benkai, Reiji, Yotan, Wandei, and Hasho; becoming more occupied with their duties, Shiori finds company in an enchanted paper crane she made. On the day of Shiori’s betrothal ceremony Shiori lost control of her magic causing a bit of trouble that could possibly expose her magic. Divided between her father’s ire by abandoning her betrothal ceremony and being exiled because of magic, she chose the former. These series of events caught the attention of her stepmother Raikama. Which lead to Raikama cursing her brothers by turning them into cranes and Shiori being cursed to silence for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die. Voiceless, alone, and stripped of her privileges as a princess, Shiori goes on a journey to find her brothers and figure out a way to lift the curse that fell upon her and her siblings. During her journey Shiori uncovers a sinister and deceitful plan to overtake the throne. The only hope for Kiata is Shiori and her brothers with the help of the boy she’s suppose to marry and been avoiding all her life.
My stepmother had broken me. She’d cast me away from my brothers, my family, my home. Even from myself.
Lim’s writing is magnificently enchanting and carries a melancholic beat to it. It is riveting, precise, and simple. I adored every single page I read and I liked that I didn’t need to overthink anything going into the story. From the first page I can easily slip into the world and conjure an image of the world. Me and my friend Sasha both agree that Six Crimson Cranes is a type of book that grows on you the more you read. Lim skillfully structured the plot and delivered the simple premise so well that I didn’t even think about it until after I finished the book. Maybe this is one of those instances where I completely lost myself. I kid you not I finished 70% of the book in a day and that says a lot for me as a slow reader. What I love about Six Crimson Cranes is how Elizabeth Lim designed the story, she took a western fairy tale story, The Wild Swans, weaving in East Asian folklore, myths, and legends into it. Some of the stories that became inspiration for the book are : folklore about the Chinese dragon, Madame White Snake (about a snake spirit who turns into a human), the myth of Chang E the Moon Goddess, the Tale of the Bamboo Cutter (about a radiant girl who discovers her true heritage), and the Girl with the Black Bowl. The stories that is weaved by Lim enriches the whole story giving it a fresh new take that serves to give readers, especially readers of East Asian descent, more representation in books.
But I knew it wasn’t enough for just my skin or my voice to be strong. All of me had to be, if I wanted to break our curse. My heart, especially.
The world building in Six Crimson Cranes is straightforward, fairy tale like, and carries a nuanced atmosphere in the changing seasons throughout Shiori’s journey. In the story it starts of in the middle of summer which progressed to autumn then by the end of the story to the last remnants of winter heading towards spring. It also helps that the seasons can give readers a time window of how long Shiori’s journey is. The harsher Shiori’s journey got the more cold the season is, it is as though the season reflects Shiori’s own emotions. Each scene is well intentioned and carries a cinematic flare that I’m itching to see an adaptation of. Each setting of the story left an impression but none can beat the Rabbit Mountain, a mountain with peaks resembling rabbit ears when covered in snow near Castle Bushi’an. I keep imagining the place where the rabbits are similar to the back mountain of the Cloud Recesses in Mo Dao Zu Shi by MXTX. The magic in the book is straight forward as well, it is some sort of spoken evocation magic. Where words can imbue enchantments on things or make people act a certain way. It isn’t overly complicated anyone can definitely grasp it. Though I hope we can see more of the magic in the sequel because it didn’t leave a strong impression on me.
“If fate is a bunch of strings, then I’ll carry scissors,” … “My choices are my own. I’ll make them as I please.” Easy for a princess to say, but I was a princess no longer.
Let’s discuss the characters and relationships in Six Crimson Cranes. The strongest point of Six Crimson Cranes is the characters, the thing that got me to keep reading is seeing the development of the characters and how their relationships intertwine. Personally I am genuinely impressed by Lim’s ability in creating lovable characters with very well fleshed out personalities. Spear heading the story is our lead and main protagonist Princess Shiori’anma. The story is told mainly from her perspective. Shiori’s character during the start of the story didn’t leave an impression on me. She is a sheltered, spoiled, and sometimes careless princess. Being the only daughter, youngest child, and the Emperor’s most favored, she has always done things her way. Though Shiori is charming, brave and true to herself, she lies a lot to the point that she gains the title Princess of Liars. I understand that all these traits isn’t the most ideal but it gives room for character development. Shiori is stripped of her privileges as a princess after she is exiled and cursed. Pushing her to grow up and fend for herself with nothing, not even her voice. I love it when characters are pushed to their limits because their development will a thousand times more satisfying
(yes, I like seeing characters suffer). Shiori’s overall development came to a full circle, with each incident or predicament she grows to be a stronger character which by the end of the book she becomes a different Shiori.
We were seven, and seven was a number of strength. An uneven number that could not fold unto itself, large enough to withstand many threats, yet small enough to stay devoted.
The other supporting characters in Six Crimson Cranes are also well written, believable, and has a strong presence. The six princes plays an influential part in the plot of the story, as the book is titled Six Crimson Cranes. Though most of their development are done off page it contributed to the plot though not as significant as Shiori’s. For me only three of the six brothers stood out to me and they are Andahai, Benkai, and Hasho. They are probably the brothers that have the most presence of all. Andahai and Benkai are the two eldest brothers they are the grown ups of the bunch, with Andahai taking role as the leader which could be said is a birthright role for him being first born. Benkai is much softer, compassionate, and loving towards his siblings. Hasho is the closest to Shiori, he has a stronger bond with her having a closer age gap and being the brother that will always have Shiori’s back no matter what. Deep down I’m a bit sad Lim didn’t show more sibling interaction in the story but I still adore the times when the brothers pop up.
“The rabbits have told me that past the light you shine, your eyes are dark with sorrow. I have no gold, and I have no kingdom, but I would give this comb to hold up your hair so that I may see your eyes and light them with joy.”
Next let’s talk about the dragon and the betrothed. The dragon, Seryu, is another character that will play a huge part in the future books as hinted in this first book. Seryu is entertaining, boastful, proud, and confident especially in front of Shiori. Though his scenes were relatively minimal he manages to leave an impression. There is one scene when Shiori reunites with Seryu and for some reason Seryu was acting “funny” *wink wink*. The interaction is just so cute! I had a good chuckle out of it. Lastly, Takkan the betrothed. Takkan will have to be my favorite character in the story. Something about his loyalty, humility, and overall heart melting devotion is truly remarkable. His personality and gestures isn’t out of this world, Takkan is actually very believable! I am thoroughly impressed by Takkan’s characterization. There is no other leading man that can fit the mold for Shiori. Ugh and the yearning between Takkan and Shiori! Such small scenes that left me breathless.
All I wanted was for this night to last forever. To find that our strands had been crossed and knotted all along. Ironic, wasn’t it, that I—a girl who always wanted to make her own choices—now wished for nothing more than to surrender to fate? I chuckled quietly at myself.
Final thoughts, Six Crimson Cranes is a well written story with a staggering amount of impactful and lovable characters that will surely pull you in the more you read the book. Everything from the plot, premise, and overall structure is executed beautifully by Elizabeth Lim. Lim’s writing has an addicting qua lity to it in it’s simplicity and clearness in her storytelling that is captivating that left a huge impression on me. Rest assured the ending is satisfying and didn’t leave me crippled with a cliff hanger. Overall the Six Crimson Cranes is a fun read and a well done first book to a duology. Hopefully the sequel will live up to it’s predecessor. I highly recommend this book for readers who are looking for something light and immersive please do pick up this book! By the time this review is up the book will be officially released so get your hands on a copy right now!
The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
This is a playlist of songs I compiled to capture the image and mood of Six Crimson Cranes based of my own interpretations of certain scenes in the story. Each song I picked reminded me of a specific scenes in the book though I wish to explain what each song represent. I will pick my top five songs in the playlist!
1. 暁のヨナ Akatsuki no Yona by 梁 邦彦 Ryo Kunihiko
Let’s start with the first song that will set the mood of how grand the setting of the story that is Kiata. This song from Akatsuki no Yona sets the vibe perfectly, not to mention the anime has similar parallels to Six Crimson Cranes. When I think about Kiata, the Emperor, the six princes, and princess Shiori I think of this song.
2. One Summer Day by Joe Hisaishi
The constant hum I felt while reading Six Crimson Cranes is melancholy, in the story Shiori is cursed to silence so she is trapped within herself not being able to communicate her thoughts and feelings to other humans. She can only communicate with her enchanted paper crane, Kiki. I chose this song to best fit the vibe of the times when Shiori is trapped indoors at the palace with Raikama, meeting Seryu, and then eventually building up to her going to the summer festival.
3. 그대라는 시 All About You by Taeyeon (태연)
This song best conveys Takkan at first one sided relationship with Shiori, I can’t find another song that best describes Takkan’s attempts to try and get closer to Shiori. Takkan is a cultured man that loves stories, music, and singing so when I read the translated lyrics for this song I feel like Takkan can sing this song to Shiori.
Verse 1 : 언제부터인지 그대를 보면 운명이라고 느꼈던 걸까 밤하늘의 별이 빛난 것처럼 오랫동안 내 곁에 있어요 Chorus : 그대라는 시가 난 떠오를 때마다 외워두고 싶어 그댈 기억할 수 있게 슬픈 밤이 오면 내가 그대를 지켜줄게 내 마음 들려오나요 잊지 말아요 Verse 2 : 지나가는 계절 속에 내 마음은 변하지 않는단 걸 아나요 그저 바라보는 눈빛 그 하나로 세상을 다 가진 것 같은데
Translation : Since when I saw you Did you feel it was fate? Like the stars in the night sky were shining You've been around for a long time Every time I think of a poem called 'you' I want to memorize it so I can remember you When the sad night comes, I'll protect you Can you hear my heart? Don't forget it In the passing season my heart I know it doesn't change Just the way you look at me I feel like I have the whole world with me
4. 꼭 돌아오리 Will Be Back by 임선혜 Sunhae Im
When I first heard this song playing in one of the most emotional scenes in the South Korean drama Moon Lovers I got literal goosebumps. I choose this song for the Six Crimson Cranes playlist for a certain character’s sacrifice and love. You have to read the book if you want know which character I’m referring though.
계절에 흩날려 떨어진 꽃잎은 홀로 남아 외로워 슬프도록 별들이 떠나간 하늘은 서글퍼 내리는 빗물처럼 울고만 있네 꽃들은 피고 또 지듯 보내는 마음 바람에 전해주오 첫눈이 내리면 이뤄지는 소원 그 말을 난 믿어요 간절한 소원 애달픈 나의 마음을 그대 안다면 다시 꼭 돌아오리
Translation : The fallen flowers scattered by the season Remains alone, lonely and sad The sky without the stars is sad Like the falling rain, it is crying Flowers bloom and wither, just like my heart Tell me with the wind When the first snow falls, my wish will come true I believe in that, an earnest wish If you know my longing heart Please come back to me
5. いつも何度でも Always with Me by Yumi Kimura
For the last song I wanted something that fits that satisfying ending and beginning of a new arc. I will not say much about the details to avoid spoilers but this song perfectly captures that ending for me. The lyrics also fits the overall wrap up of the whole story expressing Shiori’s long journey, both the journey she had endured and the journey ahead.
呼んでいる 胸のどこか奥で いつも心踊る 夢を見たい 悲しみは 数えきれないけれど その向こうできっと あなたに会える 繰り返すあやまちの そのたびひとは ただ青い空の 青さを知る 果てしなく 道は続いて見えるけれど この両手は 光を抱ける
Somewhere, a voice calls, in the depths of my heart May I always be dreaming, the dreams that move my heart So many tears of sadness, uncountable through and through I know on the other side of them I'll find you Everytime we fall down to the ground we look up to the blue sky above We wake to it's blueness, as for the first time Though the road is long and lonely and the end far away, out of sight I can with these two arms embrace the light
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 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 she 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 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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