Princess Shiori made a deathbed promise to return the dragon’s pearl to its rightful owner, but keeping that promise is more dangerous than she ever imagined.
She must journey to the kingdom of dragons, navigate political intrigue among humans and dragons alike, fend off thieves who covet the pearl for themselves and will go to any lengths to get it, all while cultivating the appearance of a perfect princess to dissuade those who would see her burned at the stake for the magic that runs in her blood.
The pearl itself is no ordinary cargo; it thrums with malevolent power, jumping to Shiori’s aid one minute, and betraying her the next—threatening to shatter her family and sever the thread of fate that binds her to her true love, Takkan. It will take every ounce of strength Shiori can muster to defend the life and the love she’s fought so hard to win.
After promising her stepmother she would return the Dragon’s Pearl to it’s rightful owner, Shiori realises this task may be harder than she expected. It takes her to the mystical Ai’long, land of the Dragons, rife with political scheming and Dragon’s that would do anything to get their hands on the Pearl, even hurt Shiori, and to Lapzur, the mythical Island filled with Demons. All the while, Shiori is having to fight against the Pearl itself. It helps when it wants, and leaves Shiori in danger on more than one occasion. But Shiori is determined to deliver this dying wish, even when the task puts not just herself in danger, but those she loves. For Kiata is not ready for magic, but magic is here, and it isn’t going anywhere.
I LOVED Six Crimson Cranes so much, which is why this book disappointed me so much. There were bits that I loved, and others that just really took me out of the story, but I’m going to try and not make this too negative a review because, as a whole, I did enjoy the story.
Shiori was a character I loved in the first book, she was headstrong, determined, but also a little scared and wholly in over her head, and while she remains similar in this story it started to annoy me, how little she asked for help, how she just went off and did things, dangerous things that ended up putting other people in danger, how little she thought before she acted. I understand she’s a teenager, but there was very minimal to no character growth throughout the story and by the end some of her choices and actions annoyed me. Side character wise, we stay pretty close to book one with a few new additions thanks to travelling to the Dragon Kingdom. None of them are overly developed, Lim chose to solely focus on Shiori with the exceptions of Kiki, her pet paper crane & Takkan her husband to be. I enjoyed seeing these relationships develop throughout the story, and these interactions were the sole source of the growth that Shiori made as a character.
The plot was… badly paced. The first part of the book flew by, and then the middle kind of meandered up to an ending that seemed to both drag and be rushed. I did think the book had finished, and then a whole new addition was included that dragged it out a little too long for me. It almost felt like we were reading lots of little stories set in the same world, the Pearl was the underlying theme through them all, but it wasn’t strong enough to tie them all together & not make the story feel disjointed. I also felt that, because the story was so rushed in parts, the story lacked any real consequences, and the dire/dangerous situations Shiori found herself in never really had that emotional hook to make you worry for her.
All that being said, Lim is one of those authors whose writing I just love reading. She writes fairytale-esque stories filled with mythology and lore that completely drag me into whatever world she creates. I enjoyed the little easter eggs she included that link back to her previous duology set in the same world, and It did make me want to go back and re-read it because those books are set after this duology. Her descriptive writing completely brings her world and characters to life and, even though the pacing issues made sure that the dangerous situations Shiori got into never really felt truly dangerous, she does have a knack for writing fight/battle scenes that absolutely jump off the page.
I enjoyed the romance between Takkan and Shiori, they spend the first part of the book apart so we get plenty of longing on Shiori’s side. What I didn’t love was the almost, but not quite love triangle that was put in. It was hinted at at the end of book one and I was kind of dreading it making an appearance and, while we knew that Shiori would 100% always pick Takkan, I felt like the other relationship could have been better had it been a platonic one & I would have enjoyed it more.
Overall I did enjoy this book, thanks in large part to Lim’s writing style, but the pacing issues made sure that I didn’t love it. Despite that I will still be picking up whatever Lim writes next!