Song of the Crimson Flower, Julie C. Dao – Book Review

Hello Humans! Welcome back to another book review. I am feeling in control of my list of reviews to write so hopefully I should have a few bits and pieces for you in the coming weeks that aren’t just review copies!

I picked up Song of the Crimson Flower when I saw that the publisher had decided not to give it a paperback release, which was very sad but also does mean I now own a gorgeous hardback to add to my collection so I suppose there’s a silver lining. I had loved Forest of a Thousand Lanterns and while the sequel wasn’t quite my cup of tea I still loved the writing and went into this book with high hopes but very few preconceptions.

Goodreads Summary:

From the acclaimed author of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns comes a fantastical new tale of darkness and love, in which magical bonds are stronger than blood.

Will love break the spell? After cruelly rejecting Bao, the poor physician’s apprentice who loves her, Lan, a wealthy nobleman’s daughter, regrets her actions. So when she finds Bao’s prized flute floating in his boat near her house, she takes it into her care, not knowing that his soul has been trapped inside it by an evil witch, who cursed Bao, telling him that only love will set him free. Though Bao now despises her, Lan vows to make amends and help break the spell.

Together, the two travel across the continent, finding themselves in the presence of greatness in the forms of the Great Forest’s Empress Jade and Commander Wei. They journey with Wei, getting tangled in the webs of war, blood magic, and romance along the way. Will Lan and Bao begin to break the spell that’s been placed upon them? Or will they be doomed to live out their lives with black magic running through their veins?

In this fantastical tale of darkness and love, some magical bonds are stronger than blood. 

Find on Goodreads | Amazon (Affiliate)

This is a delightful little romantic adventure set in the same world as the Forest of a Thousand Lanterns books – you don’t need to have read them to read this but it would give a little added flavour to read the entire set – things will make a little bit more sense I suppose. But I’d say dive into this without looking into it too much and you’ll have a better time.

There isn’t a huge amount of substance to this story beyond what you might expect from a YA fantasy romance with this kind of setup. I actually don’t think that’s a bad thing, it allows the focus to be on the relationship building and the beautiful writing. There’s a fairy tale quality to the story that I think would be ruined if you stuck heaps more world building or additional characters or settings. I just don’t want someone to read this not expecting a romance and then being disappointed/confused – which I have been in the past. Romance lovers only beyond this point.

I liked the characters, even though the story as a whole is…I’d say familiar as opposed to tropey, Lan still feels like a well-rounded character, and I liked the way that both Lan and Bao develop as the story goes on. There is arguably a bit of insta-love in there, but I think that’s more about how short the book is and how much takes place off-page (before the start of the book) as opposed to being insta-love in a tropey YA fantasy kind of way. It’s a fun sweet dynamic between these two.

This is a quick book, there’s no denying it, and arguably there are some moments that feel a little light because of that, it would be very easy to complain that there isn’t enough emphasis on worldbuilding or some of the non-romance plot elements. But I just think that wasn’t what this book was trying to do – you can get that in plenty of other places. This is a nice romance that is familiar and lovely in a wonderful setting (that you can read more of if you so choose). I’m delighted to have this on my shelf and I’ll absolutely be reading it next time I want a pick me up!

My rating: 4/5 stars

I bought this book myself all opinions are my own.

The Song of the Crimson Flower is out now!

Find on Goodreads | Amazon (Affiliate)

What say you? Will you be reading this? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!


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