This week’s Biblioshelf Musings is Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim. Sometimes you start a novel and know immediately that you are going to absolutely love and devour it – Six Crimson Cranes was one of those books! It completely transported me into a world of utter magic and fairytale.
Thank you to the publishers Hodder and Stoughton and the author Elizabeth Lim for providing me with a complimentary e-ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I didn’t manage to finish reading the whole e-ARC before it was archived but I was so thrilled when an exclusive edition of Six Crimson Cranes arrived in my July Fairyloot box – it has the most beautifully detailed cover and the sprayed edges feature the six cranes and Kiki the origami crane! It’s a work of art and I love it so much!
Book: Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim
Genre: Fantasy / YA
Publication Date: 8th July 2021
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
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.
Peniless, 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.
Elizabeth Lim’s voice and storytelling style conjured up a whole world in my head which I found fascinating. From the mountains, forests, rivers and seas, from Iro to Gindara and the dragon realms and islands in between there was always a new landscape to get completely immersed and lost in. It’s definitely one I’m adding to my bucket list of fictional worlds that I need to travel to.
I enjoyed that this was more than just your average retelling of The Wild Swans. I’m more familiar with the Grimm version (The Twelve Brothers) but I enjoyed the way that the author stayed true to the Anderson fairytale by weaving it into a stunning narrative then filling it up with extra characters and additional plot points. There was plenty of action, drama and complicated obstacles for the characters to overcome. The whole narrative exuded a magical quality, almost like lots of little moments from my favourite Disney movies all weaved together like golden threads intermittently throughout.
Shiori’s character initially came across to me as quite childish and naïve, everything she was supposed to be as a Princess living a fairly sheltered life – but then following the curse and the hardships she faced, her character was given the space to grow and mature. By the end of the novel I was championing her due to how much she had evolved through all of her trials and tribulations. Kiki, the sentient origami crane was so adorable that I had to have a go at creating some of my own!
Seryu the dragon shapeshifter was so fascinating and I’m excited to hopefully explore a bit more of the Ai’Long Realm in the next book. Takkan’s role in the story brought a little bit of romance which I was completely here for, but I’m being a little sceptical of a potential love triangle appearing in the sequel… I could be barking up the complete wrong tree though so I guess I’ll have to wait for book 2 to find out!
Several years ago, I remember reading a Chinese proverb about how an invisible thread connects those who are destined to meet regardless of time, place or circumstance. As a big believer of fate and divine intervention etc. I was so taken by this idea and here, in Six Crimson Cranes, Elizabeth Lim incorporated it so beautifully into her storyline that it made me love this book even more. All of the magical elements and events relating to the threads of fate and Shiori’s weaving of the starstroke were so vivid that it definitely appealed to all of my reading tastebuds!
Just on a personal note, I found the ending to be slightly drawn with regards to one particular character. I appreciate that it was setting up for a sequel but I was way more interested in the outcome of the narrative between Raikama’s and Zairena’s characters because I found them so intriguing and hope we get to see them later in the series.
Overall, Six Crimson Cranes is one of my new favourite fairytale retellings. Elizabeth Lim’s story manages to exude mysticism, drama and folklore from every page. Stunning!