Book Review – The Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C Dao

kingdom of the blazing phoenixThis fairy tale retelling lives in a mystical world inspired by the Far East, where the Dragon Lord and the Serpent God battle for control of the earthly realm; it is here that the flawed heroine of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns finally meets her match. An epic fantasy finale to the Rise of the Empress novels.

Princess Jade has grown up in exile, hidden away in a monastery while her stepmother, the ruthless Xifeng, rules as empress of Feng Lu. But the empire is in distress and its people are sinking into poverty and despair. Even though Jade doesn’t want the crown, she knows she is the only one who can dethrone the empress and set the world right. Ready to reclaim her place as rightful heir, Jade embarks on a quest to raise the Dragon Lords and defeat Xifeng and the Serpent God once and for all. But will the same darkness that took Xifeng take Jade, too? Or will she find the strength within to save herself, her friends, and her empire?

Set in an East Asian-inspired fantasy world filled with breathtaking pain and beauty, Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix is filled with dazzling magic, powerful prose, and characters readers won’t soon forget.

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My rating: Cyan-Full starCyan-Full starCyan-Full starCyan-Full starCyan-Half star

In many ways, Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix wasn’t what I was expecting. It’s predecessor, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, was dark and uncomfortable (in a good way!) and a retelling of a villain origin story. Obviously I therefore loved it. But I wasn’t sure how that would fold into Kingdom. Kingdom is definitely not as dark and uncomfortable! By the end it is a wonderful tale of friendship and a great re-imagining of Snow White in an Asian setting.

It starts pretty slowly, and I have to say I did struggle with that a little. I was enjoying it, but not super loving it. All that changed when they went on a QUEST. Yes that’s right, it turned into my favourite type of book!! Yayyyyyyy!

I *adore* quest books. No idea why. And every page after they went on the quest was brilliant and wonderful. I especially loved the way the fairytales woven into the story and led them onwards. And the moment between Jade, Wren and Koichi just before they leave Ming’s. I think it was very cleverly done 🙂

I did enjoy the book before the quest – especially getting to see who Xifeng had become, and how life had changed in the years since Forest occurred. I think that was the bit hardest for me – so much time had passed in the book universe, there was a lot to remember and catch up on. But totally worth it. I like that Xifeng was still dark and scary, even more so really, given everything we learn. I also really liked how her tale played out.

This book is an excellent counterpart to its dark and sinister sister, by keeping some of those parts, but also letting the light seep through. I challenge you to read it and not finish with a smile on your face. 4.5 stars.

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Buy The Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix from Amazon UK (affiliate link)

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