Series: Six Crimson Cranes #1
Published by Hodder & Stoughton on July 13, 2021
Genres: Fairy Tales & Folklore, Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic, Fiction, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia
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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.
Six Crimson Cranes is an enchanting new YA fantasy based on East Asian folklore and the The Wild Swans tale. It promises a lush, magical story featuring a Princess who becomes exiled, a swoon worthy Prince and even shape-shifting dragons (which was my favourite part of the book). So how did it hold up?
5 Things I Liked About Six Crimson Cranes
1. Shiori, the main character
There’s no Princess who waits to be saved in this one – Shiori is one fiery princess who will get things done herself! I loved her character arc in this book, where she goes from being a privileged, spoilt princess and literally loses everything she has when she is cursed by her Stepmother. She has to wear a strange wooden bowl on her head, and can’t speak for fear of losing one of her brothers. But somehow, she makes herself useful by utilising her cooking skills, befriends key people in the Kingdom, and works to expel the curse on herself and her brothers. I really liked this heroine and found that her grit and determination really got her through the tough times.
2. The whimsical and enchanting setting
The setting of Six Crimson Cranes is lush and beautiful, set in the East Asian fantasy world of Kiata. There are warlords and princes who have tried to woo the Princess, opposing kingdoms who want to overtake the Emperor, and mystical, magical beings living in faraway places. The magic within the book was wonderful, whether it’s to do with poison, curses and bloodlines. I also loved the magical paper crane who Shiori befriends and becomes her confidante in her journey. I did wish there was more in-depth world building however – as the book is a very action focused book where something is constantly happening.
3. Love for your family
Much of what drives Shiori to navigate her tough circumstances is the promise of return to her Kingdom and family. Her beloved brothers have been cursed as six cranes, and she goes to extreme lengths to keep them safe, even if it means putting herself in danger. Although the brothers did kind of merge into one another after a while, you could tell her love for each of them was strong, and she treasured the different relationships she had with them. It was also refreshing to see the typical evil stepmother trope turned on its head.
4. The slow burn romance
The romance wasn’t a primary part of the book, but it was definitely welcome! It builds up over the course of the book and I loved how the couple got to know each other purely due to circumstance. Prince Takkan is sweet, respectful and thoughtful, and I loved how it really changed Shiori’s mind who had preconceived notions of him.
5. The delicious food
I’m always up for delicious cuisine in the books that I read, and Six Crimson Cranes definitely featured a lot of it! Shiori becomes a cook in two of the places that she ends up, and her specialty is a hearty fish soup that she learnt from her mother. She also becomes a kitchen apprentice later on and learns how to cook different dishes from a chef. I loved all the food descriptions and it definitely made me crave dumplings!
Some other thoughts I had:
- Six Crimson Cranes feels more like a younger YA book due to the writing and themes.
- I found that the book lacked character development aside from Shiori. Outside of Kiki, the magical crane and Takkan, I didn’t really get a feel for the other characters.
- The book is extremely fast paced and more focused on action than character development or world building. Because of this, I found it tiring to read especially throughout the middle, as we’re constantly travelling or doing something.
- Shiori’s curse where she had a wooden bowl stuck on her seemed a bit ridiculous – especially since people couldn’t even see her eyes. How does she make eye contact with anyone else or see much if its covering her eyes that much?
- The UK edition of the book must be one of the most beautiful covers I’ve seen – and the Fairyloot special edition is pictured above.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Thanks to Hachette Australia for sending me a review copy of the book!
Six Crimson Cranes is available from Australian bookstores for RRP$22.99 or from The Book Depository.
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