by Elizabeth Lim
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 has a wonderful fairy tale vibe. It’s a retelling of The Wild Swans, which isn’t super well-known, and I love it when authors focus on an “obscure” tale. I also got super subtle Snow White-ish vibes, which I liked.
While the story is a retelling, the plot didn’t feel predictable (though I’m not super familiar with The Wild Swans plot line).
The characters were great. Lim did an excellent job with the character development and having the characters balance/foil each other. Megari was possibly my favorite character.
I liked the family themes and the bond between Shiori and her brothers (I love a good sibling story).
I listened to the audiobook of Six Crimson Cranes, and the narrator did a fantastic job. She gave each of the characters their own unique voice–I could tell which one of Shiori’s brothers was speaking even before the dialogue tag was said.
If you’re looking for a fairy tale retelling, or an Asian-inspired fantasy, check out Six Crimson Cranes.
Cautions: light/moderate romance; super brief reference to boys having crushes on one of the princes; moderate violence; storyworld demons feature as part of the plot *
*there are exclamations of “gods” and the like throughout the story, which I didn’t count as blasphemy since it’s in reference to the story world gods