Book Review – Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C Dao

forest of a thousand lanternsAn East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress–and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

***

gold_star-svggold_star-svggold_star-svggold_star-svg 4/5 Stars

By the end this book is so so so good.

“Why would you want to be like everyone else?” Well that quote from near the end sums up so much of this book. I have to admit that, for me, this took a little while to get going and connect with the characters. However, as it starts to spiral more into the origin story it truly is, it gains power. My only real quibble is the value placed on beauty in this society, for me that was hard to read. However it is necessary for this story, assuming the next book goes where I think it will.

This book is supposed to be dark and ominous, and in places it truly glories in that – for me those are both uncomfortable and the best bits. It’s about choosing your path and having a darkness inside you.

It’s also nice to read a book that isn’t about niceness and light! Haha. Not my favourite read this year, but one I would definitely recommend to people because it’s telling a different story.

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