Author: Elizabeth Lim
Six Crimson Cranes. Book 2 of 2
My rating: 4.6 of 5 stars
Demons, dragons, and a dangerous pearl.
Before Princess Shiori can rest after freeing her brothers from their curse, she must honor the promise she made to her late stepmother on her deathbed. But delivering the magical pearl to its rightful owner is no simple task. Many covet the pearl’s power, and Shiori’s own abilities as her country’s bloodsake places her at greater risk. Facing dragons, demons, ghosts, and fanatic priestesses, Shiori will need all her brothers’ and her betrothed’s help to save herself and to fulfill her stepmother’s last wish.
This was a great sequel to a really good first book. The plot meandered in several different directions. Instead of just tying off the threads setup by the first book, this sequel delivered a full novel in its own right, going from Shiori’s home palace to the dragon realm, to demons, to their homeland, all the while exploring more about her stepmother, Channari’s, own sad history.
The prose flows really smoothly, making this a pleasure to read. The Asian setting also helped distinguish this from other fantasy novels. Mostly, I liked how this duology focused on the bonds between friends and family. Shiori’s brothers are always there for her, and even though her stepmother no longer lives, Shiori discovers more about her past and how much her stepmother cared for her.
I also liked how the characters weren’t presented as black and white – good vs evil. Even the demons weren’t depicted as solely evil beings. There weren’t a lot of moral conflicts, but there was enough to whet my appetite.
As per her plans from the first book, Shiori travels with her friend, Seryu, a dragon, to the dragons’ undersea realm. But getting in is much easier than getting back out. Shiori is not the only one with plans for the powerful pearl she bears. And a human has no power against immortal dragons in their own realm.
Even without the danger from the dragons, Shiori isn’t safe in her own home. With magic banished from her homeland for over a thousand years, Shiori’s countrymen fear the magic she wields. There’s only so much an emperor father can do to protect his impulsive daughter from the dangers of politicians or priestesses fanatic for the magic in Shiori’s blood.
With a dangerous demon seeking her blood, and her life in danger due to her magical abilities, Shiori’s quest to return the pearl is far from simple. With her brothers’ help, and with her fiance and magical paper bird companion at her side, Shiori journeys through demon lands, through her stepmother’s past, and through magical means to fulfill her promise to the stepmother she’d once hated, and to hopefully find love and family in the process.