Review: Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

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Review: Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim is a retelling of a fairy tale called The Wild Swans. The author had a childhood attachment to this fairy tale and felt like there weren’t many retellings. 

Therefore, she decided to write this novel, being inspired by the fairy tale and weaving some Chinese and Japanese mythology into it.

I enjoyed this book. It was one of those “unputdownable” books where you just want to get to the end so all your questions are answered.

The plot is not too fast paced, just nice for a beginner fantasy reader like me (but not too slow and draggy either). 

Besides having positives, there were some things I did not quite like – more explained in this review!

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Book Information

six crimson cranes review
Image from Book Depository

Title: Six Crimson Cranes

Author: Elizabeth Lim

Genre: Fantasy Fiction

Series: Six Crimson Cranes Duology

Publisher: Alfred A Knopf

Amazon Rating: 4.6

Goodreads Rating: 4.31

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Kinokuniya

Six Crimson Cranes Summary

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.

Six Crimson Cranes Book Review

What I Liked About Six Crimson Cranes:

six crimson cranes review
Image by Brewing Writer

Strong Female Protagonist

The idea of Shiori having magical powers but not being able to use them to save herself from the worst possible situations ever, is definitely what makes her a strong female protagonist in this book.

On top of that, she is unable to speak to ask for any help or it will cost the lives of her brothers.

With this, she has to use her wit to influence people to trust her and help her. 

This was extremely difficult to portray in a book and the author did a fantastic job in story-telling.

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Kinokuniya

Asian Representation

I like that the story has East Asian influence. Chinese and Japanese inspired setting and culture.

It was a refreshing read for me as most fantasy books are European based.

It was fun to read about their clothes and ESPECIALLY the food. It made me crave Chinese food. 

However, there was not much world-building and I was not super invested into the book.

What I Disliked About Six Crimson Cranes:

six crimson cranes review
six crimson cranes review

Weak World Building

There wasn’t enough world-building for me to have a deep connection with this story. 

Why was magic forbidden? Why were the demons in the holy mountain? Who are these gods and goddesses and what is their story?

Sure some of these questions were answered, but they were surface levelled.

Since this book shares the same world as The Blood Of Stars Series (Spin The Dawn and Unravel The Dusk) the world-building might have been thoroughly explained there.

However, I cannot vouch for that as I did not read that series.

I also had trouble understanding and imagining the writing related to the starstroke and the act of weaving them into a net to break the curse.

To further clarify, I do like the world, the magic system and the concept of it but it was not explained in detail and when it was, it was hard for me to imagine.

Other than that, this fantasy book was pretty easy to read.

Did Not See Much Other Characters

Besides Kiki being there with her through thick and thin, I was surprised that Seryu, the shape-shifting dragon who saved her life and also taught her how to use her magic was barely there throughout the book. 

This could be because of the time difference in the dragon world vs the Kiata, but I still found it odd. 

Seryu could have been given more of a role in this story. I would have liked to see more of Seryu going through this challenge of breaking the curse with Shiori.

Hopefully we will get more of him in the second book.

I also feel like her six brothers weren’t as present. I would have liked them to be more involved in this breaking the curse.

FAQ: Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

six crimson cranes review
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This section contains questions that are most frequently asked by readers.

Is There Romance In Six Crimson Cranes?

Yes there is. Romance blooms between Shiori and her love interest, Takkan. Some fans suspect that Seryu might have feelings for Shiori. 

However, there is no love triangle in this book. 

Is There Going To Be A Second Six Crimson Cranes Book?

Yes, Six Crimson Crane #2 is called The Dragon’s Promise. In this book, Shiori is on a quest to return the dragon’s pearl.

Do I Need To Read Spin The Dawn Before Six Crimson Cranes?

No, I have not read Spin The Dawn and I could understand Six Crimson Cranes just fine. They share the same world but are separate stories. The world-building may be clearer if you read Spin The Dawn first.

Is Spin The Dawn And Six Crimson Cranes Related?

No, they are two different book series with different stories but they do share the same world. 

Is Six Crimson Cranes A Standalone?

Six Crimson Cranes is a duology. The first book being Six Crimson Cranes and the second book being The Dragon’s Promise.

Six Crimson Cranes Book 2 Release Date

The Dragon’s Promise will be release on 30th August 2022.

Is Six Crimson Crane Chinese Related?

Six Crimson Crane is East-Asian inspired. The author mentions that the world is inspired by Chinese and Japanese legends.

Six Crimson Cranes Age Rating

The age rating for Six Crimson Cranes is 12-17 years old. There is some violence and romance but nothing too bloody or sexual.

Six Crimson Cranes Quotes

Some of my favourite quotes from the book!

“We all have our secrets. One day, Shiori, you’ll have your own.”


We were seven, and seven was a number of strength. An uneven number that could not fold unto itself, large enough to withstand many threats, yet small enough to stay devoted.


Ironic, wasn’t it, that I—a girl who always wanted to make her own choice—now for nothing more than to surrender to fate?


“We always keep our word,” he retorted. “That’s why it is so rarely given.”


Fear is just a game, you win by playing.


Pain didn’t get easier, I just had to get stronger.


“Poison is the cure for poison. It’s a medicine in disguise.”


“Food feeds the belly, thoughts feed the mind, but love is what feeds the heart.”


Elizabeth Lim Books In Order (Which To Read First)

It is not a must to read The Blood Of Stars book series before diving into Six Crimson Cranes, but you might enjoy it more as they share the same world. 

The Blood Of Stars Series

Book 1: Spin The Dawn (2019) 

Paperback | Hardback | Kindle

Book 2: Unravel The Dusk (2020)

Paperback | Hardback | Kindle

Six Crimson Cranes

Book 1: Six Crimson Cranes (2021)

Paperback | Hardback | Kindle

Book 2: The Dragon’s Promise (2022)

Paperback | Hardback | Kindle

Final Thoughts

Six Crimson Cranes is a fun fantasy read. I enjoyed the world, but was not fully immersed into it because I felt the world-building was not as detailed compared to some other fantasy books I’ve read.

Nevertheless, I loved the East Asian representation.

Besides the fantasy aspect to it, Elizabeth’s Lim writing was enchanting. Her words felt like a spell, a poem, it was magical. 

The romance was subtle, I hope to see more of it in the second book. 

I also hope to see more of Seryu (the shape-shifting dragon). I expected him to have a more prominent role in the book but he was barely present.

Overall rating: ⅘

Would I recommend this book?


I would recommend this to anyone who has read some fantasy books, I would not recommend it to a beginner as I (a beginner fantasy reader) had some trouble imagining the world and it’s elements.

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Kinokuniya

Review: Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

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