By Elizabeth Lim
The book Six Crimson Cranes, a retelling of the classic fairytale The Wild Swans, follows the story of Princess Shiori, who accidentally reveals her secret powers to her stepmother Raikama and is exiled from her home. Raikama, who possesses dark magic of her own, curses Shiori and her six beloved brothers: Shiori must wear a soup bowl on her head to hide her identity and is forbidden to speak, lest her brothers die, while her brothers turn into six crimson cranes. For the first time in her life, Shiori travels outside her home and explores the world, where she must brave the dangers of the unknown and find a way to break the curse Raikama had placed on herself and her brothers. Reading this book, I felt completely immersed in the fictional world that Elizabeth Lim had built.
This book interweaves many fantastical elements as we follow Shiori on her journey to recover her brothers; the book is inspired by an East-Asian setting and Asian mythology, both of which serve to breathe new life into the fairytale The Wild Swans. At its core, Six Crimson Cranes can be said to be about the strength and resilience of family, as the bonds between Shiori and her brothers are what drive her to risk danger and save them from their curse. This theme, for me, was the book's biggest strength. I also enjoyed the plot twist ending, which I believe further served to reinforce the theme of family. However, while the book was incredibly captivating, with the rich world-building and interesting characters, I felt that the pacing was inconsistent. Around halfway through the book, the plot slowed considerably before picking up and resolving all the challenges at the end. Still, this was a fantastic read, and I would recommend this book to fans of YA fantasy.
Reviewed by Amal
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