Book Review: Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lin

Rating: 3 stars

Title: Six Crimson Cranes

Series: Six Crimson Cranes #1

Author: Elizabeth Lin

Genre: YA Fantasy


Six Crimson Cranes in the newest book by Elizabeth Lin and takes us to Kiata, where Princess Shiori lives with her brothers as she grapples with the forbidden magic she possesses.

When I first picked this up it really captured me within the first few chapters, so as I settled in to read this book, I had high hopes. However, before long I went from being excited to just avoiding picking it up.

The beginning enticed me with royal mischief, the meeting with the mercurial dragon and teasers of magic. However, this quickly gave way to what I ultimately found was a quite boring book. I have seen a lot of love for this book so my experience really surprised me, but I just couldn’t help but find it quite slow. In the synopsis, it says Shiori is voiceless and alone…. I hadn’t realised this would equate to a story where our MC is silent for the majority of the book. We hear her thoughts and her internal talk to her magical paper bird but beyond that nothing. This meant no banter, no arguments, no flirting, no nothing… just Shiori communicating with the occasional gesture. It was very well written, but for me, this just wasn’t exciting to read.

I also found that for a lot of the book Shiori bides her time waiting or slowly progressing towards her goal which again meant that not a huge amount happened. This all made perfect sense for the plot of the story but as a reading experience, it was just quite dull. I kept waiting for action and whilst there was some towards the end and things did happen, the in-between waiting really slowed me down. The premise was excellent, but the execution left me wanting.

There are several key characters in the story but other than Shiori and her paper crane Kiki, we don’t spend a huge amount of time with any of them, not enough to really connect with them.

Shiori changed a lot throughout the book, at the start she was very young and consequently brash, impulsive, and petulant which I didn’t love. But I liked that more than her being sad and silent which is how she continues for the majority of the book as her personality has a dramatic change due to the magic curse. Which, again, makes perfect sense for the plot but doesn’t make for a very riveting read.

The world was lush and beautifully written, the story had an intriguing premise and a lot of elements I normally love such as magical companions, forbidden magic and hidden royals, and an eclectic cast of characters on a quest to save the day. But ultimately it just fell flat, the slow pace and plot of her biding her time, sewing, and working in kitchens just didn’t do it for me. Yes, more than happened, conversations we overhear, her betrothed being kind to her, and others being cruel because she looks different… but not enough to excite me. We even ended the book with a villain monologue and a quick dramatic fight, which again, just didn’t work for me.

Overall, a wonderfully written and well-thought-out book with some important themes and lessons learned by the characters. However, the execution of this didn’t work for me, this slowly, quieter style might work for some people but personally I found it a bit dull and had to keep pushing myself to pick it up.


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.

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