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.
Thank you to Hodder Books for the review copy. I can confirm all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Having read and loved Lim’s Blood of Stars duology I had high expectations going into Six Crimson Cranes, and unsurprisingly I loved this just as much if not a little more than her previous series. Shiori has always had to hide her magic for fear of persecution. However on the day she’s meant to meet her betrothed, her attempt to flee causes her magic to surge and catches the eye of her stepmother Raikama. Shiori tries to warn her brothers about their stepmother, but by the time they believe her its too late. Using dark magic of her own she turns Shiori’s brothers into cranes and leaves Shiori with a warning, she must never speak to anyone about who she is, for every word she utters one of her brothers will die. Abandoned with only the clothes on her back and a bucket on her head to hide her identity, Shiori must learn to fend for herself if she is to survive. But there are darker forces at work, forces that need Shiori alive and she will have to rely on the one person she vowed never to meet if she wants to break the curse and save herself and her brothers.
Shiori is an absolutely brilliant character to follow through this story. Her character growth is off the charts and I loved seeing her grow from the slightly spoilt Princess to the woman who is willing to put her own life on the line to defend those she loves. The knowledge that any word from her lips will mean the death of one of her brothers weighs heavily on her, and to ensure she doesn’t slip she does her best to keep from forming any attachments, meaning she leads a fairly solitary life. She is incredibly resilient, strong even in the face of danger, but she is also just a young girl trying with all her might to return to her family.
This is wholeheartedly Shiori’s story, but Lim brings us a cast of side characters that I defy you not to fall a little in love with. My favourites were Takkan, Shiori’s betrothed and Megari his younger sister who was the perfect scheming little sister and I adored her. There are characters you will love and ones you will love to hate, but Lim manages to bring every single one of them to life.
Six Crimson Cranes reads almost like a fable/fairytale and it threw me a little bit at first, but as soon as I got used to the writing style I was completely swept away. It took me back to my childhood when my parents would read stories to me, and I was hit with a huge amount of nostalgia just knowing I would have LOVED this story as a child, and though the characters are written quite young I still managed to love it now. Lim’s writing style is as magical as the story and I easily found myself immersed in Shiori’s world, not quite ever wanting to leave.
The romance in this book was something that really added to the story. It was beautifully written and effortlessly sweet. Seeing these two characters who have never met, and yet have been betrothed most of their lives learn to like and eventually love each other was just *chefs kiss.* Shiori had been determined that she would never marry Takkan, but the more she gets to know him, the harder he is to resist. But while Shiori knows who Takkan is, Takkan has no idea of Shiori’s true identity, and it breaks her a little falling in love with him, but being unable to share who she truly is. The romance is slow burn, and I cackled at some parts, especially when Shiori was trying to convince herself she wasn’t falling for Takkan, and Megari’s not so subtle ploys to get them together.
There is plenty of this book I can’t talk about without giving away spoilers. Lim has this amazing talent of making the readers look in one direction whilst leading us in a completely different one. I thought I knew where the story was going, but by the end I realised Lim had a different story in mind, and I will admit to being a little shocked by the ending. It’s set in the same universe as her Blood of Stars duology and fans of that series will notice little nods to it throughout, as well as one slightly huge one at the end. Though the story didn’t quite end as I was expecting, Lim still managed to get me emotionally invested and I am incredibly eager to get my hands on book two.