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Rise of the Empress #2

Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix

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This fairy tale retelling lives in a mystical world inspired by the Far East, where the Dragon Lord and the Serpent God battle for control of the earthly realm; it is here that the flawed heroine of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns finally meets her match. An epic fantasy finale to the Rise of the Empress novels.

Princess Jade has grown up in exile, hidden away in a monastery while her stepmother, the ruthless Xifeng, rules as empress of Feng Lu. But the empire is in distress and its people are sinking into poverty and despair. Even though Jade doesn't want the crown, she knows she is the only one who can dethrone the empress and set the world right. Ready to reclaim her place as rightful heir, Jade embarks on a quest to raise the Dragon Lords and defeat Xifeng and the Serpent God once and for all. But will the same darkness that took Xifeng take Jade, too? Or will she find the strength within to save herself, her friends, and her empire?

Set in an East Asian-inspired fantasy world filled with breathtaking pain and beauty, Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix is filled with dazzling magic, powerful prose, and characters readers won't soon forget.

Fans of Stealing Snow, Red Queen, and The Wrath and the Dawn will hungrily devour this page-turning read.

384 pages, ebook

First published November 6, 2018

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About the author

Julie C. Dao

11 books1,229 followers
Julie C. Dao is the critically acclaimed author of many books for teens and children. Her novels have earned starred reviews from Booklist, School Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly, won recognition as Junior Library Guild Selections and Kids' Indie Next List picks, and landed on multiple best-of-year lists including YALSA and the American Library Association. A proud Vietnamese-American who was born in upstate New York, she now lives in New England.

Pronunciation: JOOL-lee DOW
Pronouns: She/Her

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 553 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,963 reviews294k followers
November 14, 2018
*sigh* It's never as fun reading about the good guy.

It's a real shame that this sequel is so slow when Forest of a Thousand Lanterns was so freaking good. It's also a shame to see the focus go from the amazing evil complex villain that is Xifeng, to rightful Empress and all-round good girl, Jade.

Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix sees Jade now at adolescence after being raised in a monastery. Xifeng has called her back to the city - likely with some nefarious scheme in mind - and Jade will, of course, set about to reclaim the throne that is rightly hers. This is not a spoiler; the duology is a Snow White retelling after all.

Neither Jade nor her quest are anywhere near as interesting as Xifeng and her rise to power. For one thing, the book takes over a hundred pages to get to the main plot, with the set-up establishing Jade as someone who is so mindlessly good as to be almost irritating. Then we find ourselves on a quest to retrieve five magical relics from fairy tales in order to summon the Dragon Guard, a heavenly army said to bring peace back to Feng Lu.

This part is heavily-padded with references to the fairy tales in question and various mini adventures. Sometimes I enjoy stories within stories, but here it felt like filler. As if there wasn’t enough of a plot so the author created lots of mini plots to prolong the story. And I just really dislike journey books. I've said this before, but it almost always feels like an attempt to extend the time between two significant plot points. Just get there already!

I missed that fiery bizatch Xifeng and her nastiness. I missed the court politics. I missed having a protagonist who was bad and yet sympathetic. Jade is so boring in comparison. I would still recommend the first book, but I don't feel it's necessary to move onto this second. You probably know how it ends anyway.

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Profile Image for Riley.
427 reviews21.1k followers
November 24, 2018
actual rating: 2.5

okay honestly I'll admit I went into this with a bit of a bias because Xifeng is in my top 5 favorite characters of all time so I knew this probably wouldn't pan out in a way I was happy with. But I was willing to give it a chance and see if I could be persuaded to care about Jade.

It took me a while to settle on a rating for this. And for me it comes down to the fact that this paled in comparison to Forest of a Thousand Lanterns. Where that book was complex and intriguing, this was predictable and boring.

We went from following Xifeng who had such a fascinating journey and grew into a powerful villain, to following Jade who was just so bland. There is nothing fun about reading from a character who is just so good. And she totally fell into the special snowflake syndrome. Everything she did was the right thing to do. It got boring.

The main plot of this book was that Jade needed to go on a journey to find some horcruxes magic items. But it took 100 pages to even get that storyline started and once they were on the journey I was just over it.

One thing that is still clear in this book is that Julie is an incredible writer and her world building is top notch. Although I didn't like the plot or characters, the writing is what kept me reading.

I'm really disappointed by this because Forest of a Thousand Lanterns was my favorite YA fantasy of last year and this just really didn't live up to it for me. I can see a lot of people enjoying this because my problems with it were more personal preferences rather than things that I think were done badly.

ARC provided by Penguin Teen in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Beth.
704 reviews572 followers
December 12, 2018
DNF at page 193, 50%

I'm not going to lie, I feel so let down by this. After A Forest of a Thousand Lanterns I was really really looking forward to this. It was unique and twisted and a totally unexpected read for last year. So going into this I knew this would be in the perspective of Jade (AKA Snow White) and her journey.

One of the main reasons I've DNF'd this is because I just don't like Jade as a character, I mean I didn't like Xifeng, but she was so interesting and had something about her that just gripped me from the start. Whereas Jade is just so wholesome and sweet and I think birds should just surround her and sing to her. I love a nice character but I just found her so bland and goody goody. She just bored me to tears.

Then there's this little trio, and it's just difficult to be like yep these all fit together so well, I just can't see it. Everything that happens in a period o time is just spoken of in the past in about 2 pages, so you don't actually get to see that friendship build. A big thing is how much Wren dislikes Jade and then suddenly they're pals, whyyyyyy is this a thing?!

Overall I do feel a bit salty towards this, so I'm going to pretend it never existed, and because I don't know how it ends (but I probably do because Snow White...) I'm going to say Xifeng lived happily ever after being the true Bitch Queen!

Look at them pre - ramble thoughts, I fell sorry for myself now :')

I already need to read this. I feel like 2018 is already too far away. Cover and info needed pleaseeeeee

We have a title!
Profile Image for Vicky Again.
596 reviews816 followers
May 11, 2020
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns was great, but Kingdom of the Blazing Phoneix was even better. Because wow.

I think Dao really stepped up with the world building in this one, and it wasn't in an info dump nature. There was a lot of just exploration of different areas of the world (I didn't have the gorgeous map with me) instead of just the Great Forest, and I think that made it a lot easier for me to get a sense of the world Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is set in.

Jade goes on this almost quest across the lands to search for magical god-related artifacts, and that's really why I feel like the worldbuilding was developed a lot better.

In general, Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix is just a different book than Forest of a Thousand Lanters, and you really can read Kingdom without reading FOTL.

It's a whole different type of narrative structure--not a descent to evil, but a rising to goodness through a quest of sorts with a ragtag found family, and I just really loved how Jade found these amazing people as part of her life.

Plus, I think Dao really takes the concept of Snow White and reinvents it well through her story--it's not rigidly to the tale, but it takes a lot of elements and puts them into her own storyline, which I really enjoyed.

I think part of the reason why I liked Kingdom more was because I connected more with Jade than Xifeng was just because she wasn't . . . evil. She's kind and humble, and Dao didn't just say "Jade was a good person," she showed it to us and not through the bad trope of "giving your servant stuff."

I always find it irritating when authors try to make royalty "nice people" by having them give stuff to their servants, but still not really treat them as people, and I think Dao did a good job of not doing this, and having Jade treat everyone on the same level, without being a total martyr.

Honestly, my only critique would be that some of the quest portions felt a little too convenient. Like, everything fit together easily, and it was all set up so that the protagonists could succeed. I kind of wanted more struggle in finding what way the protagonists could go, finding how they should proceed.

The quest almost felt too laid out for them--like two artifacts were conveniently in one place, so they didn't have to travel to X place. It all fit together, and although it was satisfying, I kind of yearned for that extra level of struggle and desperation of the characters.

But overall, Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix was a great read I absolutely blazed through, and I definitely recommend you pick this one up, even if you didn't like Forest of a Thousand Lanterns! It's a very different type of story, and great for someone who likes fairytale retellings with a twist.

(I do still recommend you pick up FOTL though, as it adds a certain level to the book and Xifeng's nature.)
Profile Image for Wren (fablesandwren).
675 reviews1,500 followers
November 30, 2019
I'm constantly checking to see when this book will have more info. I am so anxious that this beautiful anti-hero is going to end horribly because the actual "hero" has to win in the end, right? UGH. I need this book so badly.

- - -

That Title is on FIRE.
757 reviews2,346 followers
August 14, 2019
I’m conflicted over this. I really didn’t want the story to be this way, but I can’t control that- obviously. Aside from that, the book was good, but at times it was very boring. However, I liked how the ending played out (despite what I wanted) and ig I enjoyed the book. 😔

3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Natalie Monroe.
593 reviews3,540 followers
Want to read
January 21, 2018

Profile Image for kate.
1,149 reviews927 followers
November 10, 2018
This duology is without a doubt one of my favourite fantasies I’ve ever read.
It’s beautifully and intricately written and yet so easy to read. The world is stunning and immersive, without being too heavily described. It features one of the most brilliantly developed and fantastically written villains I have ever read and a cast of multidimensional characters who instantly pull you into the story.

The magic system is unique and easy to follow and the over-lining plot is utterly addictive, with nods to the story of Snow White and the Evil Queen subtly and cleverly woven into the pages. Without spoiling book one, book two in this duology is utterly stunning, with stunning stories within stories, addictive quests, wonderful friendships and strong women.

The Rise of the Empress duology is fast paced, beautifully written and absolutely wonderful. Overall, I’m devastated this duology has come to an end but I loved every moment of it.
(But also, please can I get a series about the Crimson Assassins please and thank you?)
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,711 reviews703 followers
November 6, 2018
I liked the first book in this series, so I was pretty eager to see how this one played out.

Jade was an easy character to like. She’s loyal and good and nice. So so so sooooooooo nice. And that’s sort of where I lost interest. What I loved from the first book was Xifeng’s ruthlessness. She is in this one, but the focus is all about Jade. There is a small group of characters and I could easily read a companion book about Wren kicking ass.

Plot wise, it was okay. The journey was a mild build up and the ending was sort of anti-climatic. And while the folklore was a fantastic aspect, I just couldn’t get captivated by a quest without urgency.

Overall, it was a good story with gorgeous imagery, but it didn’t have the spark I was hoping for.

**Huge thanks to Philomel Books for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for AziaMinor.
435 reviews54 followers
July 28, 2022
"And who said heroes have to be men? Why can't just a girl summon the army of the gods? Why can't just a girl save an empire?"

Overall Rating : B

A beautiful tale cut short rushing too fast to the finish line.

This is the story of Jade, true heir to the Kingdom of Feng Lu, who must stop her wicked stepmother from destroying everything she loves. Living a simple life, Jade has no desire to rule until she realizes that she must to keep an evil god at bay.

Reading Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is a definite MUST before you read this book because it explains so much backstory of the characters and even the country itself.

This is a true Snow White re-imagining. Wicked sorceress, a beautiful princess, an apple, magical beasts, dwarfs, although they do not sing ;)

Like I said in the beginning, beautiful story and characters, a little cheesy to be truthful (the princess really was), but I feel like this book condensed SO much it took a lot away from the story. What took three weeks, a whole month for Jade, Wren, and Koichi, was shortened into a couple pages, or even just one. And then the ending happened and they live happily ever after. Easily could've been two or even three books long. And I really wanted more Xifeng in this story, much more captivating than anyone else, although that was her skill XD

So to recap, characters unique, country and lore fabulous, story short and lacking substance. First book was the definite winner here.
Profile Image for Cora Tea Party Princess.
1,323 reviews802 followers
December 14, 2018
Review to come.

I have to know what happens, I am absolutely in love with Forest of a Thousand Lanterns and Xifeng.

Maybe not such realistic snakes on the cover though, yes? I absolutely love the new cover designs they are gorgeous oh man just look.

I desperately need more Xifeng in my life!
155 reviews260 followers
Want to read
February 11, 2018
AHHHHHHH the blurb!!!! I hope in the end Jade and Xeifeng become friends and burn the world together!!!!! NOW GIMME THE BOOK NOW

Call me crazy but I want to know more about White Jade then Xifeng. I can't stop thinking where this would go.
Profile Image for Stacy.
169 reviews418 followers
December 5, 2018
No spoilers in this review of Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix. I liked it pretty well and give it 3 stars. This sequel was different from what I expected. I thought it would focus on Xifeng, the main character in Forest of a Thousand Lanterns. She certainly wasn’t my favorite character as she wasn’t a very sympathetic one, but I expected this sequel to be a continuation of her story. It wasn’t. Kingdom was about Jade, the emperor’s daughter (and Xifeng’s stepdaughter).

A nurse has raised Princess Jade in a monastery since her mother’s death at the end of Forest. She has led a simple, subservient life but returns to the palace when Xifeng calls her home to celebrate her sixteenth birthday. Jade is overwhelmed by the royal opulence and shocked to see the sickly, weakened state her father is in. She soon realizes Xifeng is the true ruler of their kingdom and has ulterior motives for inviting her back to the palace.

Jade escapes Xifeng’s grip with the help of two new friends and sets off on an adventure to learn the truth behind her family’s past. Even though she doesn’t want to lead, she sees the state of the kingdom and decides to gather power to try to assume her rightful place on the throne.

This book started with promise, had a good premise, and wrapped up in an exciting way. So why was I bored for such a long stretch in the middle? The story contained many elements I usually love, but it just didn’t quite add up to a great read. It was good at best.

The tone of this installment was vastly different than that of Forest because Jade is the polar opposite of Xifeng, and this threw me for a loop. My other complaint: Dao didn’t properly foreshadow biggest surprise of the book, thus it didn’t feel fully earned. I was confused by another surprise in the climax and was ready to lodge a big complaint. But Dao redeemed herself with how the story eventually played out.

What did I enjoy? Dao’s prose is once again great, and I love reading about Asian culture. These are easily the two biggest positives in this finale. Overall, I would recommend this series. It is above average YA for sure. But I didn’t like Kingdom as well as Forest. The funny thing is, I kind of missed all of the things I complained about in my review of book 1. 😉

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Profile Image for CW ✨.
644 reviews1,696 followers
January 13, 2019
My first book of 2019, and - I'm calling it - my most unexpected read of this year.
I wasn't a big fan of this book's prequel, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns , but this... this was actually a good book. So for those who have heard that Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix doesn't hold up to the first book - I DISAGREE. And here is why:

- First, this can be read as a standalone, but I think reading Forest of a Thousand Lanterns will make this reading experience much better.
- The story follows Jade, daughter of the late Empress Lihua, and her quest to overthrow the corrupt and power-hungry Empress Xifeng (the protagonist of the first book).
- Whereas people might be dismayed by the fact that Jade was not an antiheroine (whereas Xifeng was), I found Jade to be a wonderful character. She was just, good, and wanted to do what is best for others. Sure, villain origin stories are more interesting, but it was actually wonderful to see how Jade juxtaposed Xifeng. I rooted for Jade, I wanted her to win.
- This is more of an adventure story than the first one, but I rather enjoyed it. I also enjoyed meeting the different people that they meet along the way (reading the first book will make this more meaningful).
- The relationships in this story are more interesting; genuine connections where they gave each other strength, found-family, friends to lovers, and so much maternal love.
- The ending was so satisfying; epic, emotional, and left me feeling content with the series.
- This was also written much better than the first one as well. If this is the sort of writing I can expect from Dao in the future, I'll certainly read her future works.

Trigger/content warning:
Profile Image for Zoraida.
Author 35 books4,020 followers
May 28, 2019
The audio of this book is wonderful. Julie C. Dao is a gem. I love how she completed the duology retelling the evil queen and Snow White. Jade is a powerful beautiful girl, and while I rooted for her, I still remember how morally Gray book one was.
Profile Image for Alexa.
2,151 reviews11.3k followers
January 10, 2019
I loved Forest of a Thousand Lanterns when I read it last year, so I was eagerly anticipating this companion novel sequel. Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix takes place years after the first novel, with Princess Jade having grown up in a monastery in exile. When her stepmother Xifeng, the empress of Feng Lu, sends for her, she has no choice but to go to the palace and face what awaits her there. Jade quickly realizes that in order to reclaim her place as the rightful heir and ruler, she must embark on a quest to raise the Dragon Lords in order to beat Xifeng once and for all. Oh man, friends, Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix is phenomenal! It complements Forest of a Thousand Lanterns so perfectly, pulling on plot and world details from it and incorporating it into this one seamlessly. I loved the narrative and tone, particularly because it’s written like a fairytale with a journey aspect (and I’m a fan of both those things in the stories I read). Dao really pulls inspiration from East Asian lore and other fairytales, and that really made me extra giddy while I was reading. I really enjoyed getting to know Jade and her companions, and because I cared for them so much, I got really emotional at times as I read. I think Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix is a very strong story to wrap-up this particular story, and I hope you all will pick it up for a read as well.

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Profile Image for aashna.
203 reviews126 followers
November 24, 2021
i really liked this book 🤞🏽 i loved jade and wren and their characterization but i wish some of the side characters were more fleshed out. i also felt that the last 30% was too rushed as compared to the first 70% but overall i think it was a lot better than the first book even though i usually like corruption arcs
Profile Image for MaryJane.
310 reviews75 followers
Want to read
December 24, 2017


Profile Image for Cindee.
813 reviews35 followers
December 27, 2018
I loved this book it exceeded my expectations it is now my favorite Snow White retelling it was beautifully written I was on the edge of my seat through the whole book. I really loved the characters especially Jade,Wren and Koichi their relationships were so well written I really loved Jade the most she was so wonderfully written. I loved the story I really enjoyed how the tale of Snow White was told in this book it kept me interested throughout the whole book. So overall I loved this book and will read more books by this author.
Profile Image for Amanda.
513 reviews1,095 followers
February 12, 2019
The predecessor to Kingom of the Blazing Phoenix (Forest of a Thousand Lanterns) was one of my favorite books I read in 2018. Obviously, I was ecstatic when the sequel was coming out because I so wanted to see what was going to happen next. I was wondering how I would like the perspective change since I absolutely loved Xifeng’s voice.

Xifeng stands in for the Evil Queen in this Snow White retelling and she is an endlessly fascinating character. Her moral compass is leaning toward evil and her thought process is fantastic to read. She’s complex is what I’m getting at. Jade stands in for the Snow White character and sadly, she’s boring to read about. It’s the same story I’ve seen a million times… a young girl must find the courage to overthrow an evil ruler to take her rightful place on the throne and restore peace to the kingdom. Also, along her journey she must also be the most compassionate and altruistic person. In other words, a character like this has all the complexity of a plank of wood.

I think it comes down to this: in any Snow White retelling, the Snow White character is probably the least fascinating character. She really doesn’t do much of anything besides marry a prince and take a nap. The real meat of the story is in the saga of the Evil Queen. Therein lies the rub. While I still thought the prose and world building was fantastic, I was ultimately reading about a dud of a main character. To be honest, there is one chapter in the end that Jade isn’t in at all and that’s entirely about Xifeng and it was the most dynamic chapter of the entire book.

I wouldn’t say this was a bad book by any means but I would say it’s a limited book. When you are writing about a “Snow White” type character, there’s only so much you can do with them to make them interesting. Also, when juxtaposed against such a powerhouse character like Xifeng the character is destined to fall flat. I absolutely think the author did all she could to make Jade fascinating but it was a bit of a losing battle. The parts that particularly shined here were the folklore and world building. The author’s prose when it came to the world of the story was truly beautiful. Sadly, Jade’s character was the one thing to make this fall a bit flat for me.
Profile Image for Amanda Kratz.
509 reviews35 followers
November 19, 2018
I really enjoyed the first book. It was a very interesting version of how the evil queen became evil from Snow White set in a fantasy imperial China type setting. This takes place about 15 years after the first book and really almost feels like a stand alone. It didn’t really do the first one justice though.

In this one we follow Jade (the Snow White character) on a journey to stop her step mom the evil queen.

Jade was supposed to be this shy timid character but her actions are anything other than. She goes to the palace and starts giving orders willie-nilly. She was just too wholesome she could do no wrong.

A lot of the story is spent on various journeys to go collect these artifacts that will help her. There is a mini fairy tale inside each one. It just felt too slow and anti climatic at the end. It was a quest or journey tale and really just fell apart. I did like seeing several Snow White references the dwarves, the poisoned apple. etc but it was a bit underwhelming. Still enjoyable just offered nothing new.

Just not as big a fan of this one vs the first one. It is still readable and flowed well, but the story reads almost like an anthology of fables than a cohesive story.
Profile Image for Yun.
513 reviews19.9k followers
November 26, 2018
Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix is the sequel to Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, and I've been eagerly anticipating it ever since I finished the first book last year. The sequel switches gears and focuses on Jade (east Asian Snow White, reimagined), who is destined to overthrow her evil stepmother Xifeng and save the kingdom. We follow her as she learns of her destiny and sets out on a series of adventures and tasks that will help her achieve her goals.

Many people mentioned they are disappointed with Jade because Xifeng was such an riveting evil heroine in the first book, while Jade pales in comparison as a goody two shoes who can do no wrong. I agree that just based on the main hero of the books, the first one was more interesting, yet I found this sequel to be no less compelling.

Dao took some small parts from the classic fairy tale, and weaved a whole world around it, fleshing it out and really making this story her own. There are so many unique and imaginative parts to it that it just sucked me right in. The quest that Jade undertakes to journey through the lands of her kingdom and find the five relics of the gods makes the book feel epic, all culminating in the final fight that determines whether good or evil will triumph.

I've been trying to put my finger on exactly what it is about this duology that is so fun, and in the end, I think it's my enjoyment of the characters and how entertaining the plot is. Dao has a real knack for crafting likable characters I can sympathize with and cheer for, whether they be good or bad. And she has shown a skillful ability to weave a tale that is complex and riveting. This duology is Dao's first books, and I look forward to reading more from her.
Profile Image for monica kim.
202 reviews6,070 followers
December 15, 2018
I loved this continuation of the series and the juxtaposition of Jade's character to Xifeng. This book really built the world and mythology out, which I loved. I'd definitely read more involving these characters or this world in the future!
Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
2,049 reviews3,453 followers
May 8, 2019
Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix is the second in a duology, but it is a very different sort of book, which I didn't expect. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is an intensely character driven, brilliantly re-telling of Snow White via the backstory of the evil queen set in ancient China. It is one of my favorite books. This installment is the story of Jade/Snow White and it is not at all character driven. Rather, this is more a traveling quest story. And while I enjoyed much of it for what it is and appreciated the way Xifeng's story wrapped up, I didn't love it in the same way. Part of this is probably to do with the fact that I don't often love journey stories of this sort unless I'm really invested in the characters.

I hoped for a portrayal of Jade that was complex with an interesting character arc, but unfortunately she is a pretty bland character who doesn't really grow or change through the course of the book. She is most interesting in the early part of the book as she interacts with Xifeng at court and develops new friendships. After that, I found her to be so perfectly nice all the time as to be quite boring. However, some of the side characters are quite compelling and I thought the author made some interesting choices in adapting the tale of Snow White.

Rather than the seven dwarves, Jade befriends and develops a crush on the son of an ambassador who is a little person. I liked the agency this lent to the character. In terms of the questing aspect of the book, Dao adapts Chinese folktales to create a foundation for Jade and her companions collecting five magical objects in order to defeat Xifeng and save Feng Lu. It thought this was a cool way of weaving in Chinese history in a magical way.

Overall, I think this is good for what it is- a quest/journey retelling of Snow White, but I wish Jade had been a more complex character who held my attention. However, I am glad I read it and appreciated the way Xifeng's story came full circle in an appropriate way.
Profile Image for kayleigh.
1,734 reviews87 followers
August 14, 2019
2.5 stars.

“All my life, I’ve thought myself weaker than others. But everyone has to work at being brave, don’t they? Day after day, in their own way.”

Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix follows Princess Jade, who has grown up in exile, hidden away in a monestary while her stepmother, Xifeng, rules as Empress of Feng Lu. But the empire is in distress and its people are sinking into poverty and despair. Even though Jade doesn’t want the crown, she knows she’s the only one who can dethrone the Empress and set the world right. Ready to reclaim her place as rightful heir, Jade embarks on a quest to raise the Dragon Lords and defeat Xifeng and the Serpent God once and for all. She just has to find the strength to save herself, her friends, and her empire, or else the same darkness that consumed Xifeng will take her, too.

If I’m being honest, I feel kind of bad giving Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix such a low rating. It really wasn’t a bad book, it was just so boring compared to Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, which was one of my favorites of 2018. I think it has a lot to do with the main characters—Xifeng was slightly evil, but still sympathetic, and incredibly complex, while Jade was just... perfect and bland. Don’t get me wrong, I love nice characters. Jade was perfect, had no flaws, and absolutely no complexity to her in the slightest. I need characters to feel real to form any connection to them, or to even like them, but with Jade being the perfect YA heroine, it was just frustrating.

On top of that, the story was also boring. I loved Xifeng’s rise to power and thought the pacing was well done (apart from the very beginning), but this took well over a hundred pages to get into the real story, and by then, I was so damn bored that I couldn’t really care about it. I don’t mind journey books, and often enjoy reading them, but considering I didn’t care for Jade, it just didn’t work. It’s pretty damn unfortunate, because if Jade was a little more developed and complex, this book might’ve been interesting. She doesn’t have to be as bad as Xifeng, but imagine how fun it could’ve been if they had similar personalities.

Overall, this was just an okay book. I definitely wouldn’t recommend it, and would say to just stick with the first one. Boring, underdeveloped characters, a slow story, and way too many filler chapters. It’s a Snow White retelling, so I’m sure you can go ahead and guess how it ends, just to save yourself some time and frustration. However, this is just a lot of personal preferences, so I can only hope someone else will enjoy it more than I did!
Profile Image for Jessica {Litnoob}.
1,190 reviews88 followers
May 11, 2019
2.5 stars

I’m so upset that I didn’t love this. After the way I was completely taken in by FoaTL I thought that this would be another five whole stars. But the most dynamic characters were those that carried over from book one, or the supporting cast in this era. I wasn’t pulling for the villain when this was very clearly a chosen one story arc. I’m endlessly disappointed and honestly I just want more villains from this author cause she did then so damn well 😩
Profile Image for Nikki.
952 reviews49 followers
August 8, 2018
In many ways, Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix wasn’t what I was expecting. It’s predecessor, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, was dark and uncomfortable (in a good way!) and a retelling of a villain origin story. Obviously I therefore loved it. But I wasn’t sure how that would fold into Kingdom. Kingdom is definitely not as dark and uncomfortable! By the end it is a wonderful tale of friendship and a great re-imagining of Snow White in an Asian setting.

It starts pretty slowly, and I have to say I did struggle with that a little. I was enjoying it, but not super loving it. All that changed when they went on a QUEST. Yes that’s right, it turned into my favourite type of book!! Yayyyyyyy!

I *adore* quest books. No idea why. And every page after they went on the quest was brilliant and wonderful. I especially loved the way the fairytales woven into the story and led them onwards. And the moment between Jade, Wren and Koichi just before they leave Ming’s. I think it was very cleverly done :)

I did enjoy the book before the quest - especially getting to see who Xifeng had become, and how life had changed in the years since Forest occurred. I think that was the bit hardest for me - so much time had passed in the book universe, there was a lot to remember and catch up on. But totally worth it. I like that Xifeng was still dark and scary, even more so really, given everything we learn. I also really liked how her tale played out.

This book is an excellent counterpart to its dark and sinister sister, by keeping some of those parts, but also letting the light seep through. I challenge you to read it and not finish with a smile on your face. 4.5 stars.
Profile Image for Winna.
Author 17 books1,932 followers
January 25, 2019
I expected to find this boring, or that i won’t find the character as compelling as Xifeng, and that i would not like the journey mentioned in other reviews. But what do i know, turned out i loved it more than its predecessor.

Jade is humble yet strong, fearful yet tries her hardest to be brave. Her companions in the journey are likable, and the quest is hard yet exciting enough to read. I love how the folktales come together, and the retelling of Snow White and the Evil Queen is even more apparent in this book.

I have to admit i was a little disappointed about the final battle, which was not as mighty as i had hoped, but it did portray the whole retelling accurately. I love the epilogue too, at the promise that hope and love prevail, that evil could be vanquished.
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