Book Reviews

Book Review: Six Crimson Cranes 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. 

Title: Six Crimson Cranes
Author: Elizabeth Lim
Genre: young adult fantasy, retellings
Format: Digital ARC
Publisher: Knopf
Date Published: July 6th, 2021
Trigger Warnings: banishment, near death experiences
Rating: 4.8//5 Owls

This book is pure freakin magic. First of all, I have an unhealthy obsession with Grimm Fairytales, so all you have to say is “Hey Meghan, this book is a retelling of a Grimm Fairytale” and I’ll read it without a second thought. The Six Swans itself is a brilliant tale, and i was so excited to see what Elizabeth Lim would do with it; and she absolutely blew me away.

Part of the brilliance of this tale is that the main character, Shiori, spends the majority of the story not be able to speak. I was a little apprehensive about this, how do I get to truly know a character who doesn’t really talk? But between her inner monologue, her mental conversations with her paper bird Kiki, and her own unique ways of communicating, I was able to absolutely fell in love with Shiori.

This is a truly enchanting tale of a naive, cushioned girl who must survive a new type of life that she never could have imagine. I loved watching Shiori transform from the spoiled trickster princess, into a thoughtful, caring, and strong willed mute “nobody”. Every step of her journey felt natural and real.

Parts of Shiori’s journey were a little troupe-y; magical quest, only one who can save everybody, evil stepmother, but every time it seemed like the story was going to follow the usual alignment of a certain troupe, it veered off into a new and surprising direction. I found myself audibly gasping in surprise at multiple twists, and when it was time for the biggest twist of all, I was truly shocked and in awe.

In addition to Shiori, we have her six brothers, who since they spent the majority of the story as cranes, we didn’t get to know quite as well as i would have hoped. We got small glimpses of their different personalities and traits, but not enough for me to truly know who was who.
There was also Kiki, the paper bird who acted as Shiori’s moral compass and close friend. I never thought I would read a book and fall in love with a piece of paper as much as I did, but she was truly an incredible character.

Then there is Seryuu, the dragon/boy that Shiori meets and befriends, who helps her in some ways through her journey, and Takkan, the boy she was supposed to marry, and the unexpected surprise in her story.

My favorite thing about these two boys is that although I suspect a bit of a love triangle is forthcoming, the relationships she had with them in this book was mostly platonic. Even as feelings developed and lines blurred, there was no cases of insta love, mad dashes of declaring undying love for an almost stranger, the relationships form slowly and over the course of the entire book, and it was so refreshing to read a story where the main character’s journey was their own and not dependent on the love of another. (Although, familial love plays a huge role in the story) I didn’t realize how much some stories depend on the romance aspect before I saw how amazing it is for a story and character to grow without it.
I’m not sure how either of these relationships will continue, if it will be a love triangle, no love story, or just one, but I love not knowing yet. I can’t wait for them to develop further and see what happens next.

Overall, I thought this story was absolutely incredible. Shiori’s journey to save herself, her brothers, and her kingdom was so well done and truly magical. It was a pretty straightforward journey, without too much action or crazy plot twists, but every step of her journey just felt so necessary and right, there is truly nothing more I could have wished for in this tale. The story also wrapped up so nicely that it almost could be a standalone, but I’m still anxiously awaiting the sequel.

Six Crimson Cranes is out July 6th, and I definitely recommend picking this one up! I for one will be sitting here waiting and waiting for the sequel to come out.

1 thought on “Book Review: Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim”

  1. It was a lovely book. I got interested in the story because I enjoyed the Blood of the Stars duology and funny enough, Shiori and her brothers were mentioned by the secondary main character. I liked how Shiori grew in this book and the twist with her Stepmother as well. I can’t wait for the next book in the series

    Liked by 1 person

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