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Six Crimson Cranes #1

Six Crimson Cranes

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A princess in exile, the boy she left at the altar, six enchanted cranes, and a dragon from the deepest sea.

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.

From the author of Spin the Dawn comes a breathtakingly original fantasy inspired by East Asian folklore and perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo or Tomi Adeyemi.

464 pages, Hardcover

First published July 6, 2021

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About the author

Elizabeth Lim

23 books8,723 followers
Elizabeth Lim grew up on a hearty staple of fairy tales, myths, and songs. Her passion for storytelling began around age 10, when she started writing fanfics for Sailor Moon, Sweet Valley, and Star Wars, and posted them online to discover, "Wow, people actually read my stuff. And that's kinda cool!" But after one of her teachers told her she had "too much voice" in her essays, Elizabeth took a break from creative writing to focus on not flunking English.

Over the years, Elizabeth became a film and video game composer, and even went so far as to get a doctorate in music composition. But she always missed writing, and turned to penning stories when she needed a breather from grad school. One day, she decided to write and finish a novel -- for kicks, at first, then things became serious -- and she hasn't looked back since.

Elizabeth loves classic film scores, books with a good romance, food (she currently has a soft spot for arepas and Ethiopian food), the color turquoise, overcast skies, English muffins, cycling, and baking. She lives in New York City with her husband.

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5 stars
27,077 (42%)
4 stars
25,885 (40%)
3 stars
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331 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 11,622 reviews
Profile Image for Cait Jacobs (Caitsbooks).
305 reviews14.6k followers
May 28, 2022
I am in love with this world and this book.

If you want:
- fairytale vibes
- arranged marriage trope
- family and siblings who would do anything for each other
- dragons, curses, quests, and talking paper cranes
then you need to read Six Crimson Cranes

Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC!
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.7k followers
August 4, 2021
EL is just one of those reliable authors who never disappoints with their storytelling.

i knew this story would deliver in terms of immaculate world-building with lush mythology, easy-going writing that expertly tells intriguing legends, and strong characters who are worth rooting for. as anticipated, this is a really well-rounded story that lives up to expectations on every front.

the only downside is i thought seryu the dragon was the most interesting character in the entire thing and he got so little page time. such a bummer. BUT the next book is set up to take place in the land of dragons, so i have high hopes that seryu will play a larger part in the story and that has me very excited!

overall, another great addition to ELs bibliography and an excellent story for those in the mood for an east-asian inspired fantasy.

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Sofia.
231 reviews6,990 followers
July 17, 2021
When I was first getting into reading, I was semi-obsessed with fairy tales. Okay, maybe I was fully obsessed.

I had this book called The Wild Swans. It made me so stressed. I'm not sure why. But I fell in love with the story.

The Wild Swans (Chinese Edition): an tu sheng: 9787560085951: Amazon.com: Books

As far as I know, there aren't very many novels inspired by this tale, one of my favorite folk stories. So when I found Six Crimson Cranes, I fainted and died, and then resurrected when I received an ARC (I LOVE YOU NETGALLEY).

This book definitely lived up to my expectations. I binged the second half of it, completely pulled into the story. It follows Princess Shiori and her brothers. All six of them were turned into cranes by Shiori's stepmother, Raikama. Shiori was cursed as well. For every word she speaks, one of her brothers will die.

Six Crimson Cranes frustrated me. It made me sad. It made me want to scream. Why? Because I cared. I wanted Shiori to defeat the curse. Every time she was set back, I felt her anxiety and stress and pain. I was shocked at how deeply I cared. I don't usually get very invested in books. Most of the time, I feel like I'm looking at characters from behind a glass wall. If a book isn't as excellent as this, I will be able to cackle as they suffer. I swear I'm not a psycho, just jaded.

I adore the way this book kicked stereotypes in the face and decided that it would follow a different path. I won't spoil the ending, but it really shocked me and made me rethink the way I perceived certain characters. It defied everything I thought would happen.

Shiori is such a strong and brave character, determined to save her brothers even if she knows she'll get hurt along the way. She's so easy to root for. She has a vibrant personality, believable goals, and an adorable origami friend. Each of her brothers has a unique, individual personality. It was easy to tell them apart.

The only part of this book I didn't like was right after Shiori had been cast out of the castle. She was roaming the streets searching for work. This lasted maybe three pages, and then a random person approached her and offered a job, even after everyone had been calling her a demon. This person didn't have motivation to hire her. It happened way too quickly and left me with whiplash, but honestly, this moment was so insignificant in comparison to the other events, so I'm not taking off part of a star for that. The rest of the book's pacing was pretty consistent.

Six Crimson Cranes was a delightful and heart-wrenching twist on an amazing fairy tale and I enjoyed every second of it, from the fleshed-out characters to the adorable romance to the awesome plot twists.

5 stars

ARC provided by NetGalley.

✰ Asian readathon ✰

Book 1: Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress : ★☆☆☆☆
Book 2: Jade City : ★☆☆☆☆
Book 3: The Paper Menagerie : ★★★★★
Book 4: Six Crimson Cranes: ★★★★★


Excuse me, I need to scream.


review to come...
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,316 reviews44.1k followers
February 10, 2022
Absolutely promising, fairy-tallish, dreamy, magical start to brand new fantasy series!

A well-executed, creative, original, Eastern mythology meets action packed adventure with dark fairytale vibes definitely put this remarkable book on your radar.

If you already enjoyed Blood and Stars duology and became fan of seamstress Maia, it will be easier for you to adore Princess Shiori and her dark magical adventure!

Shiori is the princess of Kiata, the seventh and only girl child, 16 years old, spoiled by brothers, having hot and cold relationship with her stepmother Raikama : the nameless queen, engaged to be married with third lord of barbarian North named Takkan.

But she neither wants to get marry nor wants to know more about her future husband. And she has a big secret to keep: she can do magic by giving lives to paper birds. This is small scale but it’s still threatening when you’re the princess of an empire who forbids the magic.

Her destiny changes the day her groom to be visits her alongside his father. During her own betrothal ceremony, she finds herself chase after Kiki( paper crane she’s created) and she jumps into palace lake fully clothed to catch the Crane and the last thing she sees before getting drowned is a sea dragon who saves her life.

But her only problem is not getting house arrest to sharpen her sewing skins with her stepmother. Takkan and his father perceived her attitude as an insult and they left the palace urgently.

But Shiori barely stays out of trouble. When she attends Summer Festival, she meets the human form of sea dragon. His name is Seryu and he offers her to teach magic.

And later she finds out she’s not the only magical entity at the palace. Her stepmother is also a snake-human who can perform dark magic and as soon as she catches Shiori who learned her secret: she curses her by putting a bowl magically glued to her head, even her eyes are covered by bowl so nobody can recognize her.

Shiori finds herself exiled to farther village and the bowl is not the only curse she has to deal. Raikama also forbids her to talk or write anything about her situation: if she opens her mouth to form a word her brothers will start to die one by one. She also turns her brother into six cranes and cursed their own father not to remember his own children.

As her six brothers fly around the empire to find her, poor Shiori is caught by merciless woman to work at the kitchen of a dilapidated inn. Now she’s a poor maid, humiliated by the kitchen crew, trying so hard to her way back to her home!

As soon as one kind and charming soldier arrives to the inn to borrow her money and his dagger, her fate will change and she will get a chance to find her brothers and break the curse her stepmother put on them.

But this is the only beginning of her compelling adventure and nothing as it seems. As she learns more about herself, the curse, she slowly finds out how naive she is from the beginning and she is the only one to change things radically at the empire!

Overall: interesting, intriguing, riveting start of epic series! I loved Shiori and her complicated love-hate relationship with her stepmother.

Takkan was one of the sweetest heroes I’ve ever read. He can sing, draw and read poems. Yes, he’s adorable cinnamon bun!

I’m looking forward to read the second book! This is one of the most amazing fantasy reads of 2021!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Random House Children’s / Knopf Books for young readers for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.
Profile Image for Zoe.
332 reviews1,447 followers
April 14, 2022

This was so good 😭
every single person needs to read this and that is an order.
GO! What are you waiting for?

I had honestly forgotten what it was like to read a fantasy book with a good plot. *cough*sjm*cough*

I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this. There are no words in the English dictionary to do so.

I am so glad Elizabeth Lim has blessed us with her characters and amazing plot.

Shiori is one of my favourite main characters ever because

1. She is not literally useless like every other main character to ever exist. She is not clumsy, not 'not like other girls and is not just plain boring.

2. She and Kiki are so cute together

3. She is so smart and helps those who deserve her help, and she loves her brothers with all of her heart.

Seryu was also the best I loved him so much. He was so funny and the most adorable person dragon ever. The fact that he has red eyes and green hair makes him even hotter. The way he cared for Shiori was too much for my fragile little heart. I hated how little we saw of him in this book and I'm extremely excited for the next book so I can see more and more of him.

Now onto the prince Takken. Now I do love Shiori but this stupid little bitch thought he was a menace and the worst person alive and it turns out he is the loveliest person alive wtf. I do love Takken and he is an angel but I love Seryu more I'm sorry, not sorry. I'm manifesting no love triangle and that she will end up with Seryu and no Takken. They can be besties for life. I'm so sorry Takken my love but dragon boy wins.

I have to mention the plot. It is so good and the end?! That plot twist was not expected at all. I was screaming + crying.

Live footage of me reading this book:


oh my god?! That ending?? What was that? The bad guys were good and the good guys were bad? WHATT I was really thinking that this witch bitch was the real deal but i lover so much. ELIZABETH LIM WHAT ARE YOU DOING MESSING WITH MY HEAD.

Alsoooo, if I were Shiori once i told the world who i was and that i was alive i would see everyone that was rude to me and say OFF WITH THEIR HEADS

is that selfish?
Do I give two shits?
Not one bit


And how is Shiori gonna talk to the dragon king? he has the anger of Zeus and that's not good at all. Miss gurl better have her wits about her otherwise shits gonna be messy af.


If this review has not convinced you to read this book then all hope is lost.

I have decided that I am starting the rebellion where we stop reading romance books with naked men on the covers, so start with reading this instead! Join my cult! Not really but really.

peace out.
Have fun in my cult!

{previous review of other edition}
this cover is one of the most beautiful things ive ever seen in my life
Profile Image for Hailey (Hailey in Bookland).
614 reviews87.8k followers
January 13, 2022
I'm honestly not really sure how I feel about this one! I was physically reading it until about halfway, if even, and then switched to the audiobook because I was finding it so slow. The audiobook did make a big difference, I started enjoying it more. But I still didn't really fall in love with this. I didn't dislike it, but I was so captured by the world of Spin the Dawn and this one didn't quite do that for me. I don't think it helps that I had seen so many people love this one, so my expectations were quite a bit higher. But it was just a solid fantasy for me. I will say, the story had a super unexpected twist that set it apart from a lot of other similar stories I've read. That was really cool. As for if I'll read the sequel, I'm really not sure. If I had to guess I'd say probably not. But I think this one is worth checking out if you're in the mood for a fantasy. I just have others I've enjoyed more.
Profile Image for Chloe Gong.
Author 16 books21.3k followers
June 15, 2021
A stunning remake of a fairytale. Six Crimson Cranes is the perfect blend of whimsy and ferociousness, with twists and turns that will tug at your heartstrings.
Profile Image for may ➹.
494 reviews2,075 followers
Shelved as 'maybe'
October 23, 2020
another beautiful Asian girl on a beautiful cover who I am in love with!!!!!
Profile Image for Lauren Lanz.
724 reviews259 followers
Want to read
October 24, 2020
This cover singlehandedly coerced me into reading the synopsis, adding it to my TBR, scouring Netgalley in hopes of requesting a copy, and then looking into the author and her other books.

Damn you, gorgeous cover.
Profile Image for solanne.
193 reviews482 followers
August 9, 2023
a story just as enchanting inside as it was out!! lush, ghibli-esque settings, dragons, atmospheric writing, found family, impossibly loveable characters... colour me utterly enchanted

> 4.5 stars


elizabeth lim’s cover artist is really out here doing the most for us, huh. thank you tran nguyen
Profile Image for Talkincloud.
173 reviews3,365 followers
March 16, 2023
Książka przy której można sobie odpocząć od świata. Świetnie się ją czytało.
Profile Image for myo ⋆。˚ ❀ *.
827 reviews6,904 followers
June 2, 2022
the beginning of this book was strong, very strong but once they leave the castle it gets very boring, it’s a good 200+ pages of absolutely nothing and useless plot. i liked the characters and the world but i wasn’t interested in the romance and i thought the end was a total cop for me to have been sitting here for like 400 pages for that.
Profile Image for Ishika .
198 reviews541 followers
March 3, 2022
“Find the light that makes your lantern shine,” she used to say. “Hold on to it, even when the dark surrounds you. Not even the strongest wind will blow out the flame.”

I am about to commit a crime by calling this book cute. This book was very cute. I loved it. I wasn't sure if I was going to love Shiori because of how arrogant and naive she was in the beginning but she had a great character development by the end. Though there are two things I don't understand.

1. How did she ever wash her hair without removing the bowl. I mean just look at this:

It does not make sense. (Or maybe it does but my bowl-less privileges is making me act like an asshole).

2. Who taught her sign language? And how does everyone tends to know what she's speaking? Like I can't even make out what my friend's saying when she's sitting just beside me during the boring classes. Maybe I should go and take lessons from Shiori. My friend's going to be so happy.

“Mother and Father always say that courage is the Bushian creed, but in times like these I wish it were more like ‘Keep to yourself and drink tea.’

Now Shiori's brothers were nice guys but they could have been great if only they stopped treating Shiori like she was going to break. I mean I know elder brothers are way too protective of their sisters but these guys just took it on another level. (or maybe it's just me being jealous because I desperately want an elder brother).

Seryu and Kiki were the best characters in this book. If only Takkan didn't like a boyfriend (and husband) material I would have shipped Seryu and Shiori. But well if she ends up with Seryu now then I'm committing murder. Of my brain.

The plot twist...was very predictable. I knew what was going to happen. If this was some other book I would have already dnfed it. But even though I knew what was going to happen, I enjoyed it. The last 20% had my heart racing. This is a great book if you like a little light fantasy and if you are willing to ignore some questionable issues.
Profile Image for Anne.
4,065 reviews69.5k followers
January 8, 2022
Very cool.
The Wild Swans gets a makeover with an Asian setting that kicks things up a notch!
Now I haven't read many retellings of this particular fairytale, but I was engrossed in Shiori's plight from the get-go. And I loved her BFF origami bird.


The gist?
There's a world that has walled its magic away, a clever young princess on the verge of adulthood, a bossy dragon-boy, a bunch of annoying but lovable brothers who turn into birds, an unwanted betrothment, an evil stepmother, and a whole lotta twists that change your opinion about the way you see the story to boot!


The only weird thing (to me) was that Shiori had a wooden bowl magicked onto her head to keep people from realizing who she was. I had to look it up because I was just like, a bowl?! What the hell? Anyway, with my degree from Google firmly in my hand, I poked around on the web and found the Japanese story Hachikazuki that's about a woman who is so beautiful her grandmother makes her promise to always wear a bowl on her head (for fairytale reasons) and (after fairytale tribulations) eventually marries a prince. <--ta-da!
Mystery of the bowl solved!


I think if you like retellings you'll find a lot to enjoy with this one.
Fair warning: this isn't a stand-alone book so it ends on...not a cliffhanger per se, but it isn't completely resolved with a nice tidy HEA at the end. I'm fine with that because I think I'd like to go back and revisit this world.
Profile Image for Southern Lady Reads.
450 reviews617 followers
August 30, 2023
If I had to recommend a YA (Young Adult) fantasy series - this would definitely be in my top 5!

**YA Note: There's a little bit of romance in a sweet/crush-like way - but overall, the story and the adventure are at the forefront of Six Crimson Cranes.

- One of the better immersive reads I've read in a long time.
- Beautifully written in a way that feels just challenging enough/ 'on grade level' for young adult readers (which in my experience is around 8-13 i.e. -- My Harry Potter years.) but still enjoyable for any new adult/adult readers.
- Themes of familial ties and coming-of-age courage are a large part of SCC
- Fast-moving timeline + dragons and a unique fantasy world build

**As one of the longer YA books I've read in a while, I'm glad I took a moment before writing this review to gather my thoughts. This book is LONG, and while that's not always a bad thing, I think my attention strayed a few times because I just had so many books I wanted to get through!

↑↑ Update - Finished May 26th, 2023 ↑↑

100/456 Pages Read: I started Six Crimson Cranes, and the writing is beautiful! I feel like I can see the landscapes of mountains and rivers on the Asian continent with their beautifully flowing silks and delicious food.

- SCC almost reads like a fairy tale retelling. I'm not sure if it is or not, but I'm enjoying it so far!!

↑↑ Update - Started May 23rd, 2023 ↑↑

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Profile Image for kaz.brekkers.future.wife.
380 reviews292 followers
May 13, 2022
Wow, I loved this book like a mother, sister, aunt, daughter, brother, father, cousin...well...I think you get it.
nothing has enchanted me more than asian mythology, and once I saw a book with a pretty Asian girl on the cover and heard that it was based on ancient china and japan, you knew I was in. This book did not disappoint. I devoured it within days, and it made me forget I was reading.
Writing: Beyond 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Lim has a way with words. She's not pretentious with her writing but it's still intriguing and pulls you into the scenery. And I'm pretty sure I didn't come across a "he growled/purred/barked" so that's like a million extra brownie points. The most important part of writing isn't how pretty it is but how the words flow through your ear and are translated into real sensations, whether that be feelings, scents, imagery, vibrance. And especially empathy. In this case, Lim did it just write. Shiori has to be an amazing character, because she's so well-written. Every second her struggles and emotion are translated into words that are perfectly understandable. Also the scenery was amazing. Lim must have a book called "the beautiful words dictionary" because I'm pretty sure she put every single word from that dictionary in this book.
Worldbuilding: Beyond 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Wow, Lim had a chance to build such a wonderful world and she took it. I love worlds that involve Asian mythology so I'm a little biased on this part. But wow, just wow. I'm not just talking about the monarchal regime, but THE CULTURE. I can never highlight how important culture is in a book's setting. You can't be lazy with it, because readers will know. But my oh my, did Lim outdo herself. There were so many traditions, clothes, manners. There were even activities that represent apologies. It was so amazing because in every different location the cultures and beliefs shifted. Not to mention religion was also mentioned. I loved learning about offerings and the relationships between dragons gods, priestesses, and demons. Each race had specific cultures and events that played a big part in their evolution. Lim obviously took a long time to trace the cultures and weave the strings. And learning little tidbits of culture and information on the world made the book ten times more enchanting.
Characters: Beyond 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Character development is the biggest part of a story. Our main POV was from Shiori, and honestly enduring the journey with her was amazing. Shiori is such a strong woman, and no I don't mean the "strong female character" who's OP and somehow always wins. There's a difference between being a strong female character and a well-written female character. Shiori was the latter. Shiori lost a lot in the book. She didn't win most of the time. But that doesn't mean that she wasn't strong. Every loss she gleaned, she got back up and dusted her clothing. You can see that each event changed her and made her grow. That's what I love about well-written female characters. They don't win every situation and have powers that solve everything. They lose most of the time, but each loss makes them win something stronger in themselves. You can't connect to a character if they never reach their lowest point. What I also loved about her is that she didn't just master her magic, she took the time to learn it and understand it. She was kind but not too much of a damsel and distress. She was selfless but also did things that were best for her. She allowed herself to love Takkan without making him her entire life. She was strong and compassionate, and on every page, you can see her growth. I loved her cleverness as well, whenever she incurred an obstacle, she would take the time to formulate a plan instead of diving head-first into danger. I loved Takkan as well, judge me if you like but I love a country-loyal, respectful, royal. And look at that, I just rhymed.
Plot 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
I can tell you that Lim has a penchant for originality. The plot was simple at first, as most retellings are. i thought she was going to keep it simple and stick to the baseline instead of adding complexity to the story. Well...i guess I underestimated her. She definitely wanted a differeent signature and the plot grew more complex throughout every page. There were twists and turns, and political intrigue that was so intense I think I bulged a nerve.
Elizabeth Lim has to most definitely be one of the best authors of the century.
Profile Image for Elle.
587 reviews1,404 followers
December 31, 2021
Now a Goodreads Choice nominee in Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction!

It’s pretty rare for a book to have such stunning, yet different covers for both the initial runs in the US and UK, and yet Six Crimson Cranes was able to pull it off! Even though I ended up DNFing Elizabeth Lim’s debut Spin the Dawn, the cover alone was enough to make excited to pick up this first book in a new series.

Kiata has long been free of magic, both cast out from its borders and hidden under a mountain. Unless you are Shiori, the youngest child and only daughter of the Emperor, of course. The young princess possesses some of this forbidden magic, but so does her step-mother, Raikama, who upon finding out curses Shiori and her six brothers. They are expelled from the palace, and while the boys are transformed into cranes, Shiori loses access to her magic. In an extra twist of cruelty, Raikama’s curse makes Shiori unrecognizable as the princess and forbids her from speaking. For every word she utters will bring about the deaths of one of her brothers. After their banishment, Shiori and her feathered brethren must work to break their step-mother’s curse and protect their kingdom from a dark and looming threat.


It took a bit of time for me to get into this, and I’ve been trying to figure out why that is. I was afraid for the first third to half of the book it was going to be another DNF, but luckily either I or the story found its bearings.

I usually don’t have a problem with fast-moving plots, especially in YA fantasy, but for some reason the pacing here was a little off. Things would stall for a bit only to then rapidly move through pivotal plot turns and action sequences as if they didn’t hold consequence to the story. My impression is that Lim isn’t as comfortable writing those kinds of scenes, so she tries to get through them as quickly as possible. Perhaps I’m just used to more detailed descriptions of action or fighting sequences, but they felt rushed overall for me.

The other issue I had was that even thought there was less time spent on action, there still wasn’t enough focus on characters either. There were no character deep dives into their motivation outside of some superficial descriptors, and as a result I felt held at arms-length from everything they were going through. And because I didn’t know the characters that well, it was difficult to know whether something they were doing was in-character or not. Is this normal for Shiori? Her brothers? Raikama? I don’t know, and I think some of the important revelations later on would have been more impactful if I understood these people better.

I will say that Lim writes sensory aspects really well. There’s such great descriptions of the landscape, their clothing and the food—basically everything that brings a place and time to life. I never had any doubt as to where we were and how we were supposed to feel while there. And the second half of the book salvaged the plot for me, though I wish it didn’t take so long to get there. While I was still reading I wasn’t sure I’d be interested in picking up the sequel, but now that I’ve finished I assume that I probably will.


**For more book talk & reviews, follow me on Instagram at @elle_mentbooks!
Profile Image for Era ➴.
217 reviews561 followers
May 4, 2022
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me an ARC!

Why are Asian mythology books so addictive -

My dumbass didn’t realize that this book is an Asian retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Wild Swans.” I definitely should have known from the synopsis, or even from the fact that Elizabeth Lim’s entire repertoire consists of Asian fairytale retellings. But no. My brain cell doesn’t operate on logic.

Anyway, as I’m pretty sure everyone knows by now, I LOVE Asian retellings.

This did not disappoint.

The plot is, again, an Asian retake of “The Wild Swans.” Shiori, the princess of Kiata, has forbidden magic. She’s only ever used it by accident, but it escapes once more right before her betrothal ceremony. This could be considered lucky, since she didn’t want to marry that guy, and had been hoping to cancel the ceremony anyway. But she meets a dragon.

Now, dragons aren’t supposed to interact with humans, and most people have just dismissed them as old creatures of legend. But Seryu, the dragon Shiori meets, is about her age - and worse, he knows about her magic.

From there, a lot of shit goes down, involving Seryu’s dragon pearl, Shiori’s magic, and her very beautiful, slightly suspicious stepmother who definitely has secrets of her own.

Shiori ends up cursed, her magic contained, all six of her brothers turned into cranes, and dispelled from the palace. If she speaks, one brother will die for each word past her lips.

I have no complaints with the storyline. I liked “The Wild Swans” as a fairytale (although I believe “The Girl Who Trod On The Loaf” is superior), but Elizabeth Lim’s Asian mythology elements just brought it to another level. I love fairytale retellings, especially Asian ones.

You could say that the world-building of this book was similar to “Spin The Dawn” (walnut shells enclosing magic, enchanted remnants of the gods, enchanters becoming demons, etc.), but considering that she was drawing from the same mythology, that’s not really a sound argument.

The world-building of Kiata was so intricate and it was pretty well-done. There was some info-dumping, which made it hard for me to follow - I think it should have been integrated more smoothly into the storyline somehow.

But I loved the whole aesthetic of the world. I love the whole feel that Asian-inspired books have. Maybe it’s because I’m Asian, so I can connect to it more (although anyone who knows me can confirm that I have an unhealthy obsession with Greek mythology).

“Fear is just a game, Shiori,” I reminded myself. “You win by playing.”

The characters were written well, even if they weren’t developed and fleshed out as much as I think they could have been.

Shiori was a strong protagonist, and being in her head was a good experience. She was stubborn, a bit spoiled, and very entertaining. She could be impulsive and in over her head at times, but she was flawed in a good way. Her character grew pretty gradually, but I think the development was good over the course of the book.

Raikama was a very compelling, powerful antagonist and I was really interested in her backstory. But I feel like she could have been developed a bit more, and the transition of her character throughout the plot felt really choppy and abrupt.

Shiori’s brothers - there isn’t much to say about them, because they weren’t very major to me and I lowkey don’t remember their names. But they were good characters and I liked reading their relationship with Shiori.

Kiki was a mood, as much as an animated paper crane can be. She was so much fun to read and I really liked having her as a character.

Megari was hilarious and even though she was minor, I really liked her. She was such a fierce, bright character for a little girl.

Seryu was a bit annoying and I wasn’t sure how to feel about him. I liked his beginning appearance, but I think he’s being built up to be something of an antagonist, or at least an antihero, in the next book. I found him too possessive and brash for me to really like him.

Takkan was a bit of a standard prince-with-a-heart-of-gold, but that’s not anything to complain about. His character wasn’t super memorable to me, but his romance with Shiori was sweet. I didn’t ship them, but I don’t really do shipping that much.

*cue laughter from all of my friends in the background*

Yes, that’s a bit of a lie. But I only really ship the couples that I’m intensely in love with, and Shiori x Takkan didn’t do that all the way for me.

I think my favorite thing about this book was just how well-built it was, from the way the fairy-tale was structured to how smoothly the Asian culture was integrated.

My least favorite thing was that Shiori’s perspective felt choppy. Her opinions about Raikama and her magic felt like they were switching from one thing to another so suddenly, and it took away from her development.

I also didn’t like the ending very much, because it felt a bit cliché and it didn’t really shock me the way I think it was supposed to.

Overall, I really liked “Six Crimson Cranes” and I’m really excited for the sequel. But looking back on it, I didn’t really love it the way I thought I did when I was reading it two months ago.

“Find the light that makes your lantern shine,” she used to say. “Hold on to it, even when the dark surrounds you. Not even the strongest wind will blow out the flame.”
Profile Image for Nadhira Satria.
440 reviews746 followers
May 19, 2023
REREAD!!!!!! Just amazing as the first time. I’m literally obsessed with this book, this series, this world, and everything that Ms. Elizabeth Lim writes.

pre-reread review:


talented, brilliant, incredible, amazing, show stopping, spectacular, never the same, totally unique, completely not ever been done before, unafraid to reference or not reference, put it in a blender, shit on it, vomit on it, eat it, give birth to it.

Holy shit, this was one amazing book!! The second I picked it up to read, my eyes are glued to the pages. I even had to fight myself to go to bed and not read more of this amazing book. Before I bought this book and read it I was afraid I wasn't going to like it since I didn't like Spin the Dawn. But oh wow I loved EVERY SINGLE WORD. The book is absolutely breathtaking and beautiful. I haven't been this amazed by a book in a very long time so I'm happy that this book incredibly wowed me. It punched me in the face with how beautiful and well written this book is.

What I Like

1. The main character
Shiori'anma is our main character. And even though I don't always love young adult main characters, I truly fell in love with Shiori. She is feisty, mischievous, smart, and completely human. She has her faults and she isn't completely flawless like most YA MCs. She could be spoiled and want things to be her way but the character development is absolutely amazing. I read how Shiori'anma grew from a spoiled princess to a wonderful person. I enjoyed her voice so much and I loved that it was from her POV even though I don't normally like first person pov.

2. The Worldbulding
WOW OH WOW. WOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWW. The lore and the worldbuilding are beautifully written. There are stories about the world and the lore and it's sooooo good. Everything felt so magical and beautiful. The east asian inspired setting was breathtaking and captivating. Absolutely wonderful.

3. The Writing
Beautiful, enchanting, and MAGICAL. The writing was absolutely gorgeous. I felt like I was completely transported into the book. It is so beautiful and I felt like the writing completely complemented the worldbuilding. Lush and beautiful, the writing kept me glued to the book for hours without complaining whether it was boring or not.

4. Takkan
MY SWEET ANGEL. An absolute sweetheart who deserves the world. He is the sweetest love interest ever oh my god just talking about him makes me want to CRY. He's EVERYTHING I LOVE HIM SO MUCHHHHHHH.

5. The plot twist

What I didn't like

1.That I had to wait for a year for the sequel. I WANT IT NOW.

Oh my word. You guys, do yourself a favor and get this absolutely amazing book. (Don't blame me if you don't like it tho) It's absolutely amazing and I cant wait for the second book. PHEW I need to breathe now because this book left me breathless.
But basically: Buy this. Thank you for coming to my ted talk

and also: where were these Asian reps when I was growing up??? thank you thank you thank you to all Asian authors who write own voices books. I needed this when i was younger.
Profile Image for l..
492 reviews2,139 followers
August 5, 2022
when the author personally asks you if you want an arc of her new novel & asks her publicist to send you one ……… i simply cannot wait to fall in love with elizabeth’s gorgeous writing all over again :’)
Profile Image for gabrielle.
167 reviews101 followers
January 2, 2022
Shiori is the youngest sibling of seven and the only princess of Kiata. Unbeknownst to the rest of her family, forbidden magic runs through her veins. On the day of her betrothal ceremony, she loses control and catches the attention of her stepmother, Raikama, who has dark magic of her own.

Raikama casts a curse, turning Shiori’s brothers into cranes and banishing her from home, unrecognizable to anyone and unable to speak because for every sound that passes her lips, one of her brothers will die. Forced to work with the boy she didn't want to marry and a rebellious dragon she’s been taught not to trust, Shiori searches for a way to lift the curse from her brothers and herself.

I’m sorry, but I was super bored while reading Six Crimson Cranes. This was very close to a DNF, and I finished it through sheer will.

What I Liked:

- The Asian inspired world building.
- The fairy tale vibes.
- Dragons, because who doesn’t love dragons?
- The descriptive writing.
- The super gorgeous cover.

What I Didn’t Like:

- There was good action at the beginning and the end, but the middle 300+ pages had little plot and was comprised of Shiori traipsing around a castle, cooking or sewing.

- None of the characters were compelling. Shiori is your basic spoiled princess who learns humility and hard work by being banished and having her privileges stripped. Takkan is your cliché too perfect prince, who was able to implausibly deduce every situation with no context. Seryu was interesting but he was barely present. It was hard to get to know the brothers because there were six of them and they were usually cranes.

- I remember the romance felt unbelievable and was mainly comprised of lingering glances, but it’s been a little while since I read this and I don’t remember specifics.

- A big deal was made out of Shiori’s forbidden magic, but it seemed like nothing but a plot device.

- The truth behind the stepmother, Raikama, and why she cursed Shiori and her brothers.

- The weird and uncomfortable love triangle that started to form.

If I read the sequel, it will solely be for Seryu and the underwater dragon world and nothing more.
Profile Image for abigail ❥ ~semi-hiatus~.
256 reviews610 followers
April 17, 2022
5 stars
This book is a masterpiece filled with beautiful storytelling.
It truly transports you to another world and even with all the chaos and evil—I didn't want to leave.

I absolutely adore Shiori. She is such a strong character even with her naivete. However tragic it was that she went through, she came out of it bolder, smarter, and with some amazing character growth overall.

Takkan and Seryu are both love interests—each having different backgrounds, attributes, and characteristics. I love Shiori and Seryu's banter and relationship. Despite the fact that he is a dragon, he has a soft spot for Shiori and truly cares about her. Takkan has had a longer relationship with Shiori. Having known each other through childhood and him being her betrothed, Shiori was always against it, and never truly aspired to look deeper into that connection. On the road, however, she ran into him, and despite him suspecting her to be who he thought, he still was kind and caring in contrast to everyone else. I have a soft spot for both and I am not good at deciding.

I can't wait for the next book!
Profile Image for Fanna.
992 reviews534 followers
May 19, 2022
➵ this story is perfect. from cursed beings to familial relationships, my heart was entranced by the consistent plot peaks and enchanted by the magic of love; the fantastical aspects were excellent and the revelations were surprising —every point was emotionally propelling for me. lastly, it made me cry. rtc.

15.06.2020 the publicist has blessed me with an earc! i hope the story will be as beautiful as this stunning cover.
22.05.2020 this new duology has just been announced and i absolutely can't wait, especially when we're being promised a princess and a cursed brother along with a dragon and a paper bird brought to life. also, yes to asian rep!
Profile Image for JustJJ.
120 reviews162 followers
October 6, 2021
This review and others @Bookerification

Rating: 4 stars
Despite the hype that surrounds it, ‘Six Crimson Cranes' was not high on my list of books to read. The mediocre blurb failed to entice me with its offer of a light-hearted and fluffy, Young Adult (YA) read. It was not until I came across its beautiful cover at the bookstore that I was drawn to this book. 

It was love at first sight! The elegant font, simple illustration and soft, pastel colours grabbing my attention and demanding that I read this book. 

Even so, I feared that the contents of this book would not match its stunning cover, but all it took was the first sentence to relieve my concerns. The enchantingly vivid writing that follows this sentence swiftly earned my rapt attention. Its smooth, simple flow wrapped itself around me like a snug blanket, lulling me straight into the world that Elizabeth Lim skilfully constructs. 
“Stray too close to the fire, and you only burn”

The world-building is comprised of a gradual release of details across the book. This does mean that very little information is revealed at the start, which can put off some readers. However, Elizabeth soon establishes a detailed and creative world that even includes a few unique elements.

Much like the world-building, the storyline starts off rather simple as the stage is set for the coming adventure. Once this is done, things pick up rather quickly, and the storyline proves to be far more complex than initially portrayed. Several twists and dangerous situations are also used to increase the tension, making the storyline even more intriguing.
“Greed is a great motivator”

Our main character, Princess Shiori, is another element that starts off relatively simple. I struggled to connect and relate with her original spoilt and self-centred personality. Thankfully, as the storyline proceeds, Shiori proves to be more complex and stronger than I had initially perceived her to be. Her character growth is one of the strongest I've read in a while as it felt very natural and realistic. 

Another strong feature of this book is that it manages to avoid most YA fantasy tropes. This is especially noticeable in the romance elements of the story. What we have here is a remarkably natural and non-toxic romance that does not become the sole focus of the story. That's right - it is possible to have a storyline that is so well developed it does not rely on romance to fill up pages with unnecessary anguish.

This book also stands out in the strong family ties it presents. There is something very heart-warming about these characters who love and respect their family dearly. Yes, no family is perfect, but every now and again, it is still nice to read about caring families that really try to do what’s best for each other.
On the whole, ‘Six Crimson Cranes' is a fantastic start to a series that I can easily see becoming a favourite of mine. The writing is terrific and well-supported by a complex storyline full of numerous twists and lovable characters. However, it does start off quite simple and slow-paced, so I’m giving it 4 stars. I would still highly recommend this book for all YA fantasy lovers as it refreshingly avoids most tropes associated with the genre.


Full review to come @ https://bookerification.com/

4 stars!! This was so good!
Profile Image for el.
253 reviews1,535 followers
August 24, 2021
whenever i start a new young adult book, i feel like there's an extended adjustment period, just because so much of the pleasure i derive from books comes from complex, stylistic prose, and you rarely ever see that in a genre primarily marketed to teenagers. with six crimson cranes, that adjustment period took around 80 pages—give or take—and then i was locked in. the prose here is about as scaled back as it comes. it's plain, unadorned, and rarely ever transcends the lower end of the age threshold this book was very clearly written for (13-18 year olds, in my opinion).

because the adjustment period took so long to wan, i was convinced that i would not enjoy this book for quite a while. in the end, though, i couldn't resist the pull of a fantastical family adventure. the world here—in spite of its relative simplicity—is really beautiful. i found the pace and progression of the narrative satisfying, the building suspense effective, and i really did love shiori as a main character. that, and the nature of her curse, which, while outlandish in places—characters referencing her emotions/eyes/expressions always made me raise my eyebrows, because you can only see her mouth! according to the curse—felt really refreshing.

and, okay, yes, i am a sucker for the idea of second chance romance + identity porn between two people who have met in childhood. it helped that takkan was such a well-written male love interest. i feel like that's often rare to see in ya, especially ya entrenched in love triangle scenarios, which this series is obviously setting up for. what usually happens is...i read a young adult book and i take issue with the fact that it's trying to sell me a romantic dilemma that features two boys who are equally terribly written.

in six crimson cranes, at least one boy held up his end of the deal. takkan is a shy sweetheart with a strong moral compass and an artistic bent, so he was a delight to watch unfold across the pages.

having said that, i continue to have to contend with the young adult love triangle formula, which is so disproportionate that it is almost always apparent who the real endgame is within a few protag/love interest interactions. i've made a game out of trying to sniff out the romantic red herring.

even though seryu was introduced first, and has the allure of magic and cross-species conflict on his side, i could tell he was never going to hold a candle to the actual Main Guy. i wish love triangles like this one were written with more balance, because the screentime (and development) disparity here undercuts any idea of an actual dilemma. and i know book two is likely preparing to thrust seryu/shiori center-stage, but it often feels too little too late after establishing a strong main romance in book one—like the protagonist is just biding her time until she can return to the real endgame during the inevitable I've Made My Choice conclusion.

also, seryu's switch-up from i saved you because you're a pretty human to i'm gonna give you the cold shoulder now because i feel threatened by the presence of a new guy in your life was so abrupt i wanted to cringe. i hate this kind of side-guy arc in a love triangle, especially when it kicks in way too early—these two barely know each other!—and here, it just felt out of place, particularly because i felt the motives behind seryu/shiori's first interaction were already flimsy as is.

in that same vein, i think what i craved most from this book—and why i'll be mourning the idea of it as an adult fantasy for the rest of the week—was nuanced character writing. aside from shiori and takkan, and maybe possibly perhaps a certain character buoyed by circmustance/plot twists, the vast majority of the people filling up this world felt like caricatures.

it was hard to distinguish most of the six brothers from one another because they had so little screentime, and did very little memorable work with what they did have. i wanted more women to have a focal point, and the women who did i craved greater complexity for. too often it felt like they filled one-dimensionally wrought villainous voids so elizabeth lim could raise the stakes.

zairena's entire character, for example, remains confounding to me. like, okay, i know this is young adult, but i wish amoral characters—especially amoral female characters with unconvincing set-ups—were written with more care, particularly when they're introduced so early. here, they really do start to feel like cartoon characters; while their motives may not be immediately obvious, they are always coded as blatantly malicious from the get-go, and with the women, especially zairena, it started to just seem needlessly catty? i was actually genuinely shocked zairena wasn't a former scorned lover of takkan's, because that was how unsubtly her dislike for shiori was written. granted, i was glad for megari, but i wished shiori had more girls her age to interact with, and i wish the general cast of characters felt more fleshed out than one or two defining traits.

this book is more of a 3.75 or 3.8 out of 5 stars for me, and that little rating leap is largely because of the pay-off, and the adrenaline high of the magical adventure. and, yes, also because of the romance. shiori/takkan really defied my ya expectations, okay!!!!

regardless, though, i think this is a super strong start to a fantasy series, and i will be tuning in for the sequel. if you want uncomplicated romance-infused curse-breaking, definitely check this out!
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