by Ashley Dickson-Ellison (@teachingtheapocalypse)
I wanted to read this one from the moment I heard the description, which incorporates a retelling of "The Wild Swans" fairy tale woven in with East Asian folklore and myths. Thank you to NetGalley for my advance copy of Elizabeth Lim's Six Crimson Cranes (Amazon | Bookshop.org) in exchange for an honest review! This brilliant YA fantasy read focuses on Princess Shiori, who at the beginning of the story is worried about her upcoming betrothal to one of the lords of the kingdom. However, as forbidden magic latent within her suddenly blooms, she finds herself in a much more precarious situation than a simple unwanted betrothal.
When Kiki, Shiori's beloved paper crane that came to life thanks to Shiori's magic, winds up at the bottom of a lake, Shiori dives in to get her and encounters a dragon.
"The bottom of the lake tasted like mud, salt, and regret. The water was so thick it was agony keeping my eyes open, but I thank the great gods I did. Otherwise, I would have missed the dragon."
As Shiori and the dragon Seryu become friends, he helps her learn more about her magic, but their journey leads her ever closer to a curse that will change her life and the life of her six brothers forever.
The curse has profound repercussions for all of the siblings, and Shiori becomes a penniless, no-name, unknown girl in a remote area of the kingdom. No one can recognize her, and her brothers transform from cranes to men each day, unrecognizable to anyone in either form. Worst of all for Shiori, if she utters any sound at all, one of her brothers will die.
"Only a cruel heart could yield such a curse. So why didn't I believe it?"
I don't want to share more about the plot and risk spoiling something, but this is a fantasy fairytale retelling you don't want to miss! Shiori is such an amazing character, and the people she meets along the way are also excellent. I loved the way that she found her way forward even when facing inconceivable odds.
This one is perfect for the fairytale retelling category of the Unabridged Reading Challenge, and I'll probably talk more about it on the pod when we share more retelling recommendations because I absolutely loved it!
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