SIX CRIMSON CRANES, by Elizabeth Lim, Knopf Books for Young Readers, July 6, 2021, Hardcover, $18.99 (young adult)
In Six Crimson Cranes Elizabeth Lim draws on fairy tales and East Asian folklore to create a captivating fantasy you won’t want to put down.
Shiori’anma, 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.
A sorceress in her own right, Raikama banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes. She warns 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 forswear — no matter what the cost. —Synopsis provided by Knopf Books for Young Readers
I loved Elizabeth Lim’s Spin the Dawn and enjoyed its sequel, Unravel the Dusk, so I was excited to see what she’d come up with next. Six Crimson Cranes exceeded my expectations. It’s my favorite of her books to date.
Six Crimson Cranes has a Shannon Hale-esque feel to it with fairy tale, characters and settings all sharing the spotlight. Shiori is the central character — strong, smart and loyal. I particularly enjoyed her growth after she loses her ability to speak. Equally important, though, are her six brothers, the dragon, and the people who take her in when all seems lost.
The story unfolds throughout the kingdom of Kiata, and because of that, readers are transported to several different climates and landscapes. You quickly find yourself in places that are weighted in reality but have a little something else, too.
There’s a charm to Six Crimson Cranes that wasn’t present in Lim’s Blood of Stars duology. Perhaps this came from writing two books in the Disney universe — Reflection: A Twisted Tale and So This is Love: A Twisted Tale. Or perhaps it’s just natural progression. Either way, it makes for immersive text and engaging plot. I can’t wait for the next book in this duology.