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Song of the Crimson Flower

(Rise of the Empress #2.5)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  1,193 ratings  ·  363 reviews
From the acclaimed author of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns comes a fantastical new tale of darkness and love, in which magical bonds are stronger than blood.

Will love break the spell? After cruelly rejecting Bao, the poor physician's apprentice who loves her, Lan, a wealthy nobleman's daughter, regrets her actions. So when she finds Bao's prized flute floating in his boat
288 pages
Published November 5th 2019 by Philomel
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Veronica It makes some references back to primarily Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, but overall this can definitely be read as a standalone. I'd recommend readi…moreIt makes some references back to primarily Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, but overall this can definitely be read as a standalone. I'd recommend reading Thousand Lanterns before Blazing Phoenix if you're going to read those. Blazing Phoenix wasn't as good as these other two however.(less)

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Average rating 3.78  · 
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 ·  1,193 ratings  ·  363 reviews

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Elle (ellexamines)
YA fantasy romance is a genre that rarely serves me, a lesbian, this well, but Julie C. Dao understands tenderness and was ready to give it to us. This was excellent.
She looked up and saw the love in Bao’s eyes—the love that had never left him, not even in his anger—and she couldn’t help feeling that it might all be worth it. It wasn’t just the right thing to do; she knew now that even without a spell, it was what she wanted to do.

As Song of the Crimson Flower begins, upper-class Lan is in l
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Song of the Crimson Flower, Lan, the daughter of a wealthy nobleman, cruelly rejects Bao, a poor physician's assistant, when he declares his love for her. But when a curse traps Bao's soul inside his flute, Lan wants to make amends for her terrible words and goes along with Bao on a quest to break the curse.

The story reads like a fairy tale, full of heroic moments and strong characters. Dao is masterful at building beautiful landscapes and backdrops without overdoing it, and reading her books
Oct 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019-reads, arcs, e-books
This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷

Actual Rating: 3.5 stars

“Love isn’t waiting for someone to remember me. Love isn’t dreaming about them all alone. Love is talking together, forgiving each other, finding common threads in the lives we want. I’ve learned that now. You taught me.”

★ I picked this book in a moment of excitement when it was available for downloading on Edelweiss for everyone. I was having second thoughts as I started to read less YA books and I did not want to
Vicky Again
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
very lovely! it was much more tender than I was expecting, which I really enjoyed.
Namera [The Literary Invertebrate]
ARC received in exchange for an honest review - thank you!

So, confession time: I didn’t actually finish this book.

I wouldn’t normally rate it, but I did get 55% of the way through and I knew I would end up giving it this rating anyway, even if I managed to struggle all the way though to the end.

So, why such a low rating? Because the heroine is a COW.

Lan is the daughter of a wealthy government official, Minister Vu. She comes from rich and happy family home, filled with family who lo
Not bad... not bad.

Song of the Crimson Flower is a book that I definitely read out of order. Doesn't even matter to me because I still liked everything about this book. It probably made me even more excited to dive into the first two books because this novella definitely delivered. In it, Lan and Bao were adorable. I honestly couldn't help but ship them because an enemies to lovers romance is something I could get behind.

Yeah, they were crushes before.. but eh, details.

The adventure was so much
♠ TABI⁷ ♠
Mar 06, 2018 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss
I'm ready ...more
Dani ❤️ Perspective of a Writer
Check out more reviews @ Perspective of a Writer...

The Buzz

I enjoyed Forest of a Thousand Lanterns and I was excited to read about a "good" couple rather than an evil villain set in the same world. And I do like the idea of this being a companion novel and not a third book in the series.

While the cover isn't drawing me in I do find it pretty and it gives the feel of an old fashioned fairy tale which is definitely the tone of Song of the Crimson Flower. I don't hate the title either, it fits wit
Carole (Carole's Random Life)
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I had a fantastic time with this book! It has been a long time since I was able to read an entire book in a single day but it was so easy to get lost in this book. This wasn't a long book with less than 300 pages but I thought it told a big story. The story grabbed me from the start and the story progress at a perfect pace to keep the pages turning. I am so glad that I took a chance and decided to give this book a try.

This book is li
3.5 stars! A Vietnamese YA fantasy that reads like a fairytale and includes mentions of characters and events and details of a world I’m already familiar with? Yes, please! This book was one I flew through in what basically amounts to one sitting, and I truly enjoyed the experience. The characters, the story, the world - everything came together really well!
Sarah Swann
Aug 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a nice surprise! I wasn’t expecting to be super interested in this one, but I really did enjoy it. I liked the magic and the love story between the main characters was sweet and realistic. I enjoyed their journey thought the story was really good.

*Huge thanks to BookishFirst and the publisher for the review copy!
Dec 02, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: botm
Actual Rating: 3.5 stars

Song of the Crimson Flower is a charming retelling of a Vietnamese myth that centers a romance and reads like a fairytale. It's set in the world of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, and it was fun to see cameos from characters in that series. This follows a boy with an unrequited love who is cursed by a witch, and the girl he loves who had been engaged to his foster brother. Things get complicated and they embark on journey to free him from the curse.

I had a good time with t
Rep: Vietnamese-coded

Trigger warnings: Drug use/drug addiction, violence, classism


This book seems like a cozy fantasy story that takes place in the midst of the Rise of the Empress universe. And it’s certainly a story I was eager for! I legitimately thought this was a book I’d end up loving. The first few chapters seemed that way too. We’re shown Lan and Bao unwittingly falling for each other, then we see Lan hurt and betrayed and cruelly rejecting Bao, Bao running away and encountering the wit
Mar 26, 2019 rated it liked it
This best way I can describe this book is simple. The writing is simple but pretty. Its has a slow in the beginning but picks up after the love interest gets turned into a flute (its that kind of fairy tale). The two main characters are simple and fun to read. I think this is the first time I have read of the boy love interest being awkward and bumbling instead of the girl. The other characters were more just background noice and I think might have meant more if I had read the other two companio ...more
Kitty Marie
This book has a vibe that is charming and positive. The short length (under 300 pages) and rather fast pace makes this an ideal choice for people who need a break after a large and/or intense read or just want a relaxing reading experience in general. The story presented here is simple but in a classical way, resembling a fairy tale.

What drew me to this title initially is the unusual romance, one of the more notably unique aspects of this title. I’ll just go into details that are already present
Cindy ✩☽♔
Jul 02, 2019 marked it as to-read
So excited for a book steeped in Vietnamese culture =D
julia ♥
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
4/5. This was so enchanting and interesting, full review to come.
Apr 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: YA fantasy asian mythology
Shelves: asian, fantasy
So, I was expecting way more from this book. That said, the first part was exactly what I wanted. The story was well written, the setting just perfect and I liked the characters. Bao and Lan were a nice couple, though Lan tended to be a bit of a spoiled princess here and there. But, overall, she was enjoyable. The story was predictable too, but intriguing to read their journey. The Grey City mythology seemed promising as well.

However, things went downhill halfway through. When Lan and Bao met Co
Nia •ShadesOfPaper•
You can find this review on my blog Shades of Paper.

“Soon, she would make Ba and Mama proud, and she would have everything: a lovely, elegant wing of the Huynh’s home, servants to tend to her every wish as a cherished daughter-in-law, and Tam, the handsome young man who wove his love for her into the melody o a flute beneath the moon.”

After completely falling in love with Forest of a Thousand Lanterns two years ago I knew I had to read everything Julie C. Dao publishes, and since thi
Kelly Brigid ♡
♡ Not wholly unique, but entertaining nonetheless! Having been mostly unfamiliar with the original Magic Flute tale might've prevented me from fully appreciating certain aspects of this retelling. The prose is beautiful, which I had expected from reading Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, and I'm glad that the pacing never faltered! Overall a pretty fun little fantasy! ...more
Kate (GirlReading)
Oct 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Julie C. Dao is officially the Queen on fantasy.
I don't make the rules, I just state them.

This read beautifully, with a fantastic, classic fairytale vibe and Disney had better jump on it and turn it into an equally beautiful movie asap.
Jul 29, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a good book. Len and Bao are a cute couple, and Wei has a new love story (much better than Xifeng!) The cheesy romance parts of the book were telenovela level (we can't stay away from each other or we can't breathe!), which was kind of fun to read. The adventure parts, though, could have been a little better. Still, a cute romance, and I'd read the series again. ...more
Renee (The B-Roll)
This book is so gorgeously written, dense, emotional, magical, and atmospheric. From the start, there is an almost fairy-tale like quality to this book that really makes you want to read it more and more. I loved how well both the characters and the plot are developed so quickly in this story and how the plot begins and does not let up until the very end and the book is over! The atmosphere and environment just feels so lush with details and descriptors, almost as if you can actually see/smell/h ...more
Originally posted to I Should Read That

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This is a spoiler-free review.

Julie C. Dao is one of my auto-buy authors -- I totally fell in love with Forest of a Thousand Lanterns and adored The Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix,/i>. I thought that with the completion of the Rise of the Empress duology, we would leave the world of Feng Lu forever. So imagine my surprise and delight to discover that Song of the Crimson Flower, her latest book
Oct 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Song of the Crimson Flower is a story about class and love that defies boundaries. It's about the truth of love that will transcend words even when the world seems to be pulling us apart. Is it more important for us to be proper than the image of propriety? For us to be honorable or to seem honorable? Dao also examines the ways we build people up in our head and put them on a pedestal. We end up seeing what we want to see, what will be most comfortable to us.

While there's this plot where the fa
Sofia Casanova
Nov 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is everything I wanted in a YA Vietnamese inspired fantasy. I feel so validated.
belle ☆ミ (thisbellereadstoo)
actual rating: 3.5 stars

when bao confessed his love for lan, he was not expecting such cruelty and viciousness from her. having painted a lovely picture of lan, bao couldn't believe the person he loved and admired from afar could utter such painful words. devastated, he ran away only to be cursed by a witch who has some odd ties with him. appalled at her own actions, lan wanted to apologise to bao but finds out that bao had left. when she finds bao's flute on a boat near her house, she discovere
Katherine Wren
Jan 03, 2020 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
michelle (magical reads)
4.5 stars

read on my blog

**I received an ARC for this blog tour and from a giveaway. These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.**

Love isn’t waiting for someone to remember me. Love isn’t dreaming about them all alone. Love is talking together, forgiving each other, finding common threads in the lives we want. I’ve learned that now. You taught me.

I never got around to reading Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix, and it’s been a little over two years since I read
Song of the Crimson Flower is a story that reads like a beautifully woven fairytale.

Song of the Crimson Flower follows the story of a daughter to a wealthy nobleman, Lan, and a poor physician's apprentice, Bao. After Lan rejects Bao, he leaves heartbroken and ends up crossing paths with a witch who places a spell upon him that will only love can break. Lan, regretting the way she treated him, vows to help him break the spell.

I absolutely adored this book, from its characters to the story, ever
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Julie C. Dao is the author of several acclaimed novels for teens and children, including FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS and BROKEN WISH, published by Disney Books. A proud Vietnamese-American who was born in upstate New York, she now lives in New England. Follow her on Twitter @jules_writes.

Julie is represented by Tamar Rydzinski of Context Literary Agency.

Pronunciation: JOOL-lee DOW
Pronouns: She/H

Other books in the series

Rise of the Empress (2 books)
  • Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress, #1)
  • Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix (Rise of the Empress, #2)

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