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Six Crimson Cranes - Review

*I received this e-arc from Knopf & NetGalley. All views are my own*

As much as I like the concept, I haven't found the perfect story retelling. I've only read three so far in my reviewing journey, including this title, Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim, but I haven't been uber excited about any of them. I wanted to love this book. I've heard nothing but good things about it. But I could not find any strong interest within the story.

"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.
Penniless, 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."

So as it turns out, I never heard of Hans Christian Andersen's, The Wild Swans, which is possibly one reason I couldn't connect with this story. From what I understand, Six Crimson Cranes is a direct retelling with a twist at the end. Though I may not have drawn parallels in the story, I can still say that I wasn't entirely impressed with the tale. Aging was a tremendous factor for this reason.

Aging to me is what that dreaded yet comical line, "I released the breath I didn't know I was holding," is to most readers. It bothers me that the main character is a 16-going-on-17-year-old girl who acts like she's still 12 years old. She is very childlike, which is unbecoming for someone who is about to be married in a year. It was a bit cringeworthy for me, which almost resulted in a DNF, but as I continued reading, the main character did seem to grow towards the end. Now that I think about it, this might have been purposely done to show her growth through her silent predicaments. Hopefully, that was the angle.

The story got better towards the end of the book, and the author blessed us with a cliffhanger. It seems like a supreme battle is coming between humans and the magical creatures they keep mentioning throughout the story. I wish we could have more appearances from these outcasts and dragons. It felt empty citing a shapeshifting dragon, but he's MIA for the majority of the book. *sigh* I only assume all of the plot holes will be answered in the second book.

Overall I gave this book a rating of 3-stars. I wasn't entirely impressed with the tale. Aging in stories will be the cause of my bookish death. Where I was hoping for a Young Adult read, I got a borderline middle-grade novel. I fell for the "don't judge a book by its cover" trap because I definitely picked up the book because of the cover. There is to be a sequel in the future, and I might pick it up, but it's going to be a slow walking journey before I get to it.

Six Crimson Cranes debuts July 6, 2021.

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