Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim is the first book in a YA fairytale series.
It is also a New York Times Bestseller. The following article contains some of the most asked questions about this book, and my best attempt at answers to those questions.
I hope you enjoy this article!
Is Six Crimson Cranes a standalone book or a series?
Six Crimson Cranes is the first book in a duology.
Elizabeth Lim did say she was going to write a third book, but that this most likely would be a prequel.
Apparently, her editor has not yet approved it, so we don’t know if Six Crimson Cranes will continue as a duology or become a trilogy.
You could then say that this series is a trilogy even though the third book will be a prequel.
Does Six Crimson Cranes have any LGBTQ elements?
Six Crimson Cranes features one main romance. This is an M/F romance (between male and female).
So far there are few side characters the reader follows, and thus no LGBTQ elements.
Is Six Crimson Cranes a retelling?
Yes, Six Crimson Cranes is an East-Asian retelling.
It is based on “The Wild Swans” by Hans Christian Andersen, or “the Grimm Brothers” depending on which version you want to go by.
Where is Six Crimson Cranes set?
Six Crimson Cranes is set in the same world as The Blood of Stars duology (Spin the Dawn and Unravel the Dusk) which is set in an East-Asian world.
What is Six Crimson Cranes about?
Six Crimson Cranes follows the story of Shiori, the only princess of Kiata. Her secret is that she has forbidden magic running through her veins.
When Shiori slips up she thinks her mistake is like a stroke of luck. Forstalling the wedding she never wanted. But Shiori catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.
Raikama has dark magic of her own, and she banishes Shiori, turning her brothers into cranes. She warns Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.
Shiori then goes searching for her brothers. On her journey she uncovers a conspiracy to overtake the throne. This conspiracy is more cunning and complex than even Raikama’s betrayal.
Thus, Shiori goes on a mission to save the kingdom.
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 has been taught all her life to contain.
And she has to do all of this without uttering a word!
Does Six Crimson Cranes feature a love triangle?
There are two characters who could be love interests for Shiori: Takkan and Seyru.
At first, the book makes you think there will be a love triangle.
But then through a good twist, we notice there is only one real love interest for Shiori.
Who knows what book two will bring!
Six Crimson Cranes Characters
Six Crimson Cranes is told through Shiori’s perspective. That said, the story features plenty of other characters that play important roles in the book.
Below you can read about some of these characters.
Shiori is the youngest child and only daughter of the emperor, she has 6 older brothers. Shiori has forbidden magic which her stepmother finds out about. Her stepmother then curses both Shiori and her brothers. The curse is that Shiori can’t speak. And if she does, for every word she says a brother will die. She also has a bowl on her head she can’t take off which prevents people from recognizing who she is.
Seyru is an arrogant water dragon. But he also has a soft side to him. Seyru gave a piece of himself, the pearl, to save Shiori when she drowned. Seyru also offers to help Shiori learn how to control her magical gifts. And this water dragon helps Shiori throughout the book in various other ways. We don’t get to see a lot of Seyru, but he definitely plays a big part in the book.
Takkan is a prince of a neighboring country. He is also the betrothed of Shiori. Takkan and Shiori have never met before. On the day they would meet Shiori flees, so for a long while we don’t know who Takkan is until they meet at an inn. There Takkan goes by another name so we still don’t know that this person is Takkan all along. Takkan is your typical warrior character. But he can also be a very sweet person, who sings, write poetry, and paints.
The 6 brothers
Shiori has 6 older brothers. Their names are Benkai, Hasho, Andahai, Reiji, and the twins names are Wendei and Yotan. They all have their own personalities, but we don’t actually get to know them. They do play a big part in the story as they are cursed into cranes and Shiori will do anything to break this curse. The brothers can all turn into humans at night but as soon as the sun comes up, they turn back into cranes. They try to help Shiori in any way they can to find a solution as to how to break the curse.
Raikama is Shiori and her brothers’ stepmother. Raikama isn’t actually her real name but it means Nameless Queen. Raikama wasn’t always who she is now. We don’t get to know much more about her until close to the end of the book.
Kiki is a paper crane Shiori brought to life with her forbidden magic. Kiki plays a big role throughout the book. In fact, Kiki and Shiori can communicate telepathically since Shiori can’t speak out loud due to the curse.
Do you need to read The Blood of Stars Duology before Six Crimson Cranes?
Spin the Dawn and Unravel the Dusk are set in the same world as Six Crimson Cranes.
However, you don’t actually have to read them before Six Crimson Cranes.
That said, Six Crimson Cranes does contain a few Easter Egg references to The Blood of Stars books.
So, if you haven’t read the Duology you’ll miss out on these easter eggs.
Six Crimson Cranes mythology
The Setting of Six Crimson Cranes draws inspiration from the Tang Dynasty and Heian Period.
The book itself is inspired by The Wild Swans.
And Elizabeth Lim has included influences from a lot of other Chinese and Japanese myths and folktales.
Some of these are:
- The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter – about a radiant princess whose hand is sought by many suitors. Until her true heritage is revealed.
- Madame White Snake – about a snake spirit who becomes a human.
- The Girl with the Black Bowl, and the legend of Chang’e the Moon Lady.
Elizabeth Lim also includes inspiration from some western fairytales like Cinderella, Rumpelstiltskin, and Thumbelina. The decision to change the Swans to Cranes also comes from Asian culture. Cranes are symbolic and represent longevity and immortality.
Six Crimson Cranes Ending Explained
Below you can read more about the ending. Beware it contains spoilers!
There is a moment that Shiori does speak and it is to save Takkan.
This lifts the curse that was on Shiori and her brothers.
Takkan already suspected she was Shiori but was not 100% sure.
And Raikama wasn’t the bad guy in the end.
In fact, she did everything to protect Shiori from The Wolf who wants the dragon pearls.
Raikama fights with The Wolf and ultimately gets hurt and dies, but not without an emotional goodbye.
At this point, Shiori finds out what Raikama’s real name is.
The saying goes that once you speak her real name out loud it will lift the curse.
In short, Six Crimson Cranes ends happily.
However, the ending prepares the way for a new story which leads us to book two which we have a title for “The Dragon’s Promise”.
We don’t know what exactly The Dragon’s Promise will bring us.
Based on the ending of Six Crimson Cranes, I expect a whole new world in the next book where Shiori must return Raikama’s pearl to its rightful owner.
This book could also be another retelling. Regardless, plan on more dragons mixed in with the East Asian mythology.
What are books like Six Crimson Cranes?
Here are some books I think you will enjoy if you liked Six Crimson Cranes!
- Spin the Dawn and Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim. Like I said, you don’t have to read these books to understand and enjoy Six Crimson Cranes. However, there are some Easter Eggs in Six Crimson Cranes you won’t know about unless you read the Spin the Dawn Duology.
- Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa. This is a Trilogy based on Japanese folktales including demons named Kitsune, Samurai, Yokai and Akuma’s.
- Descendant of the Crane by Joan He. This is a standalone book of Chinese inspired fantasy. It is about a princess who becomes queen after her father’s murder.
- Wicked Fox by Kat Cho. You can read this duology as a standalone. Wicked Fox is about girl who is a nine-tailed fox.
- Flame in the Mist by Reneé Ahdieh. This Duology is a Mulan inspired retelling set in the Japanese world.
- Jade Fire Gold by C.L. Tan. This is a recently released fantasy stand alone. Jade Fire Gold is about a girl and a lost heir set in Chinese mythology.
- The Girl who fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh. As of the date of this article, this book hasn’t been released. But Elizabeth Lim herself recommended this book. It is a standalone novel that is full of magic. A girl takes the place of her brother’s beloved, sacrificing herself to become the Sea God’s bride. This in the hope that one day they will find their true brides. It is a story inspired by Spirited Away and Korean mythology.
Six Crimson Cranes editions
Six Crimson Cranes has different editions, but there is only one special edition. There is the normal UK cover and the normal US cover. As for the special edition, only Fairyloot has done a special edition for Six Crimson Cranes. They also did a matching set for Spin the Dawn and Unravel the Dusk.
About the normal UK Edition
As the title says it is the normal edition so nothing special about it. It has a pastel color focusing on the blues and pink cover with the 6 cranes and Shiori on it. In the distance, you can see Shiori’s house.
About the normal US Edition
Like the UK edition, the US edition is a normal book with nothing edited to make it special. However, Elizabeth Lim did go by her local bookstores to sign several editions there. So there is a chance you could snatch a signed copy. This edition has more detailed art of Shiro on it with around her 6 crane brothers. This cover also has brighter colors.
That said, each cover is beautiful.
About the Fairyloot Edition
Fairyloot is a book box company based in the UK. This means that the books and thus the covers they use are always the UK editions. It is the same with Six Crimson Cranes. But, Fairyloot did a color edit. The standard edition focuses on blues and pinks. But the Fairyloot edition changed those blues to lilac. They also changed the color of Shiori’s dress to red. This edition is signed by Elizabeth Lim and has both sprayed and stenciled edges in purple. The stencils are of the 6 brothers in crane form with Kiki on the bottom.
I hope I was able to answer some of your questions in this article.
And if you have a question that I did not cover, feel free to let me know in the comments below!