Author: Elizabeth Lim
My rating: 4.6 stars
Shiori lives the happy carefree life of a rich princess, her only worry that anyone discover she can wield magic. Until the day she discovers her stepmother’s true nature, and Shiori and her brothers are cursed. While Shiori can’t speak without killing her brothers, her six brothers are cursed to spend their days as cranes. Banished by magic far from the palace, Shiori and her brothers search for each other and for a way to free themselves from their stepmother’s curse.
This book was an immersive experience. The writing, like others by this author, consists of a lush prose that’s very easy to read and really pulls you into the story. It’s set somewhere in Asia, and the plot is based on the fairy tale of the princess and the six cranes. I’m not overly familiar with that tale, but I know enough to say that this presented a unique and wonderful spin over the original.
Shiori had a good character arc throughout the story, maturing nicely through her trials. I especially enjoyed the plot twists presented within. Not everything or everyone turns out based on first impressions. Additionally, hers wasn’t the only character given a voice. All of her brothers (six of them, if that wasn’t obvious), while only side characters, each had their own personalities. And I loved the complex relationship Shiori and her family had with their stepmother. It wasn’t the simple wicked stepmother story from every fairytale. There was so much more to their relationship, like you’d expect with a real stepparent and their new family.
The writing was really good. It had me blinking back tears at some points.
I’ve only read one other book by this author, and while I loved the prose there too – it was hard to dislike the book with that prose – I thought it too YA with too much of a romance focus. There is a romance in the Six Crimson Cranes, but it’s more mature, and I enjoyed the slow build-up to their relationship, which has more in common with a deep friendship than with a relationship based on physical contact. Plus, it didn’t overtake the main plot, it merely enhanced the overall story as a wonderful sub-main plot. That’s not to say this can’t be a YA book. It can appeal to both a teen and older audience.
This was a great Asian inspired fantasy book. Most of the issues were wrapped up in this first book, but several new problems cropped up at the end, paving the way for a sequel. I expect that will be worth the wait.