Audience: 12-17 years
Review by Sarah Bihn (she/her)
MLIS Student, Kent State University iSchool
As the youngest child of seven and the only daughter, Shiori is used to an idyllic life where all that she wants is within reach–except the breaking of her betrothal. There is nothing she hates so much as the thought of marrying and moving far away from the palace of her birth and her family. But, as her brothers constantly remind her, she has a duty as the only daughter of the Emperor of Kiata to help strengthen political ties, and serve her family. However, talk of tradition and duty mean little to Shiori when there are other things to occupy her thoughts–like that of her accidental use of forbidden magic. Yet Shiori will soon come to find that all is not well within her homeland, and not everyone can be trusted. Not even within the palace. When her accidental magic causes Shiori to snub her betrothed and miss an important ceremony, she thinks it a stroke of luck, but trouble soon follows in the form of a curse upon her and her six brothers. While they must take the form of swans during the day, Shiori cannot speak, or else for every word she utters, one of her brothers will die.
Armed with only the love she has for her family and a paper crane she accidentally brought to life, Shiori must travel through lands she has only ever studied on paper; and face countless dangers in hopes of breaking her curse. Along the way, she finds new allies in the unlikeliest of places, namely the home of her betrothed, and uncovers a secret that could destroy all of Kiata.
“Six Crimson Cranes” is an imaginative retelling of several classic stories including “The Wild Swans,” “Cinderella,” “the legend of Chang E,” and the “Tale of the Bamboo Cutter.” Lim expertly weaves together the core elements of each story with an original twist that will keep readers enthralled until the end, and then wishing for more. In true fashion of traditional fairytales, this story has all the hallmarks of a classic tale–a lost slipper, a cursed princess in disguise, an evil stepmother, and a monster who may not be so monstrous. As Shiori discovers more about her stepmother and her own magic, she comes to realize that all may not be as it seems, and discovers that she no longer wants to be a spoiled princess kept in a gilded palace.