Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim
Hodder & Stoughton, hb, £11.99
Reviewed by Mikaela Silk
Shiori is a spoiled princess who loves her brothers, hates her stepmother and doesn’t want to marry the random nobleman her father has picked out for her. Life is simple. Then she meets a dragon, learns of her own magic and discovers that her stepmother is keeping secrets. Life will never be simple again. Cursed into silence and anonymity, her only thoughts are finding her brothers and breaking the curse that keeps them as cranes by day. If only she knew that having cranes for brothers was the least of her problems. At least she has Kiki, her trusted magic paper bird.
The Grimm’s ‘Six Brothers’, which inspired this book, is my favourite fairy tale, so there was a lot to live up to, and it didn’t disappoint, with original elements of the tale deftly woven into the narrative in a uniquely, magical way. Why have swans when you can have cranes? Why weave shirts from nettles when you can weave a dragon net with a magically strong fire weed? As I was reading, I got lost in the story and almost forgot to expect some of these details until they snuck up on me and took me by surprise. Then there are the new fantastical elements, such as the dragons and their pearls, which add a whole extra level of intrigue to the story.
As the main character, Shiori is easy to like. It is great to follow along as she grows and evolves from a spoiled princess into a heroic character. The other characters are not explored much further than how they relate to Shiori and how they interact with her plot. However, there was still just enough detail for me to fall in love with Takkan and feel Shiori’s magnetic pull to her brothers. Her stepmother, Raikama, is perhaps the most complicated character, although we only see the full depth of her backstory in the final few pages.
The main thing I was disappointed by was the ending which felt a bit rushed. However, I am more frustrated that I now have to wait to find out what happens to Shiori next!