Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim || book review

This review is spoiler-free!

Title: Six Crimson Cranes
Series: Six Crimson Cranes, #1
Author: Elizabeth Lim
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Published: July 6th, 2021
Category: YA
Genre: fantasy, retelling
Pages: 464
My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5)
Goodreads page

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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.

[ This synopsis was taken directly from Goodreads. ]

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Six Crimson Cranes is a retelling of The Wild Swans by Hans Christian Andersen with an East Asian fantasy twist. It seems to be set in the same world as The Blood of Stars duology, but they are entirely different stories with little to no connections. You don’t need to read that series to read SCC.

This was my most anticipated release of 2021, so my expectations were sky high. I really enjoyed Elizabeth Lim’s previous two books, Spin the Dawn & Unravel the Dusk. Even with my high expectations, SCC hit the spot. It was everything I liked in a retelling. It had enough elements of the original story to identify it as a retelling, but it had a lot of unique bits to make the story interesting and not predictable.

That being said, I wasn’t surprised by the ending. Granted, that wasn’t the author’s fault. At one of the SCC launch events, someone asked a question that spoiled the ending and ruined the surprise for the readers (like myself) who haven’t gotten their copy yet or finished the book. It was a kind of a bummer, because I feel like I would’ve gotten a kick out of the twist at the end if it wasn’t spoiled the week the book was released. Word of caution, if you’re at a book launch event, please please PLEASE be mindful of asking questions with spoilers. Not everyone has the time/opportunity to read the book the moment it’s released.

One thing I loved about this story is how colorful the world is. It sounds weird, I know, but you’ll get it once you read it. The world is so rich with culture, mythology, magic, and story. There was never a moment where I was bored or the story felt dull.

Another thing I liked about SCC is that it isn’t a retelling of a typical fairy tale. In YA, you see a lot of Cinderella, Beauty & the Beast, and Hades & Persephone retellings. I like that the author is going off the beaten path and retelling a story that isn’t as widely known.

Something I’m a bit skeptical about is that there is a hint of a love triangle. I don’t hate love triangles, but I don’t love them either. No love triangle forms in SCC, but there might be one in the sequel. I’m not sure how I feel about this, but we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. Regardless, it’s not going to stop me from reading the sequel.

Overall, Six Crimson Cranes was such a delight to read, and I’m so sad I have to wait another year to know what happens next!


✅ great retelling but also great original story
✅ vibrant world and culture
✅ love the plot twist
➖ takes place in the same world as the Spin the Dawn series

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I give Six Crimson Cranes 4.5 stars!

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Stay awkward and amazing!

14 thoughts on “Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim || book review

  1. We Write at Dawn 08/10/2021 / 9:06 am

    I’m sorry you were spoiled on the ending. I hate it when people do that, especially right after a book releases. Hopefully they learned their lesson and won’t do it again.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Knit One, Spin Too 08/10/2021 / 9:07 am

    Thanks for this review! I have this one on the nightstand to start today and it sounds like a good one! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Marta the Monogamist Reader 08/11/2021 / 8:03 am

    Lovely review, and I’m sorry the ending was spoiled for you, that’s the worst! I think we may have a love triangle in the second book, let’s just hope the sequel will be as great as the first one.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Em @ The Geeky Jock 08/12/2021 / 2:35 pm

    Ooo! Thanks for the tip about the twist! I normally read the ending first … so, will do my very best to resist the temptation!

    Liked by 1 person

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