I just finished the Six Crimson Cranes duology this last week!
I was a huge fan of Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim, which came out a few years back, and have been itching to try her newest fantasy series. It was nice to read these two back to back because they’re action-packed stories set pretty close together, so it was like tumbling headfirst into a long adventure. If you enjoyed Spin The Dawn, this new series will definitely suit you too as it delivers the same fairytale vibes with mythology woven in and mischievous and fearless heroines with a big dash of magic.
Things You’ll Find In This Series
- Grimm’s The Six Swans retelling
- Japanese mythology, including the tale of Hachikazuki and the 1000 Origami Cranes legend
- dragons and demons and whimsical magic
- defiant and mischievous princess
- non-stop action and quests
Six Crimson Cranes starts off with introducing us to Princess Shiori. She’s a wildfire of a girl, full of reckless impulses and cheery defiance, who loves being silly with her brothers and eating all the good food at the festivals and just is uninterested in performing her “princess duties” when there is a world out there to dance around. Shiori’s impulses definitely throw her into trouble a lot and her thoughtlessness comes back to bite her. When her evil step-mother curses her brothers to be cranes, Shiori must not speak a word or else she’ll kill her brothers. She ends up cast from the palace and on the run, unable to speak and ask for help, and forced to bear the terrible secret of her step-mother’s cunning. It closely follows the Grimm tale (this specific fairytale has been one of my favourites for years) while weaving it Japanese mythology. Definitely recommend checking out #ownvoices reviews too.
Shiori also is cursed to wear a bowl on her head so no one can see her face/expression. She is cut off from most forms of communication and it drives her to be quite creative. She sacrifices a lot to save her brothers, and it was nice seeing her mature from selfish to selfless.
Also shout out to Kiki, the magical paper crane that Shiori folded that came to life. She is the sassy side-kick, the voice of reason, and honestly goes through a lot. But no one can keep Kiki down. 😌
The story has a fair bit of travelling and then launches into the quests Shiori must fulfil to try and break her brothers’ curses. She also ends up in the isolated city of her betrothed (whom she thought she hated) and ends up caught up in the politics there while yearning for her betrothed who doesn’t even know who she is. Takkan was such a loyal sweetheart, and definitely Prince Charming material. It’s a slowburn romance for sure.
Seryu was also 👌🏻 wonderful, though he features more in the sequel. He is deviously lighthearted and a fun dragon to read about. Like pure mischievous chaos. He helps Shiori learn to manage her magic and I liked their dynamics together. Shiori attracts trouble, Seryu is (sotly) trouble. There’s a very minor love-triangle, but Shiori is all about Takkan. 😂
I won’t give any spoilers for the sequel, The Dragon’s Promise, but it’s definitely packed full of action and new quests. We get to journey to Seryu’s underwater dragon world, which is just stuffed with magic and tricky and terrible characters. The dragons were devious creatures and I only wish their scenes had been longer. Because 👌🏻 yes dragons.
There are new high stakes and dangers for Shiori in the sequel, especially with the incoming threat of demons escaping their confines in the mountain, so expect to go into this one and be a little breathless by the end. You won’t be bored with the pacing.
Definitely a magical and whimsical series, perfect for fans of fairytales and YA fantasy.
Thanks to Hachette Australia for the review copies!
Title: Six Crimson Cranes (#1)
Author: Elizabeth Lim
Date Published: July 26, 2022
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Hachette AUS
Purchase: Book Depository, Dymocks
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A princess in exile. Six enchanted cranes. An unspeakable curse.
Shiori’anma, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs in her veins. And 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.
A sorceress in her own right, Raikama 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 uncovers a dark conspiracy to seize the throne. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in a paper bird, a mercurial dragon, and 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.