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The Dragon’s Promise

[A Quick Note: This is the second book in the Six Crimson Cranes duology. I don’t really have spoilers in this review, so feel free to read it even if you haven’t yet read SCC. Note: Elizabeth Lim is one of my favorite YA authors, and she is also an auto buy author. I always love her work, some books more than others, after discovering her Spin the Dawn book. I even have multiple copies of her books, and most of them are autographed!]

“𝑩𝒖𝒕 𝒂 𝒑𝒓𝒐𝒎𝒊𝒔𝒆 𝒊𝒔 𝒂 𝒑𝒓𝒐𝒎𝒊𝒔𝒆, 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒂 𝒌𝒊𝒔𝒔 𝒊𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒘𝒊𝒏𝒅, 𝒕𝒐 𝒃𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒓𝒐𝒘𝒏 𝒂𝒃𝒐𝒖𝒕 𝒘𝒊𝒕𝒉𝒐𝒖𝒕 𝒄𝒂𝒓𝒆. 𝑰𝒕 𝒊𝒔 𝒂 𝒑𝒊𝒆𝒄𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒚𝒐𝒖𝒓𝒔𝒆𝒍𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒊𝒔 𝒈𝒊𝒗𝒆𝒏 𝒂𝒘𝒂𝒚 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒘𝒊𝒍𝒍 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒓𝒆𝒕𝒖𝒓𝒏 𝒖𝒏𝒕𝒊𝒍 𝒚𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒑𝒍𝒆𝒅𝒈𝒆 𝒊𝒔𝒇𝒖𝒍𝒇𝒊𝒍𝒍𝒆𝒅.” —Elizabeth Lim

Shiori made a promise to her stepmother, to return her stepmother’s cursed pearl to its rightful owner. Time and again, this promise threatens to unravel the threads of fate between Shiori and Takkan. They must fight for their love. Together, they use the pearl to trap one monstrous demon in exchange for freeing another. When the price to heal Shiori’s kingdom is her life, she must make the ultimate sacrifice.

I’ll be perfectly honest…Six Crimson Cranes would have been fine as a stand alone book without the pearl as a story device to write a second book. This book was completely different than the first (not necessarily in a bad way). Truthfully, it felt unnecessary. Most of what I loved about the first book was absent in the second regarding Shiori herself.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, as I did give it 4 stars.

The setting and world building was the best aspect of this book. Lim’s writing is lush and decadent. Her world descriptions of both the dragon’s kingdom and Shiori’s kingdom were stunning. I love her food descriptions (they always make me hungry). Her writing alone is the kind of gorgeous prose that speaks to my heart. Overall, that made for a transportive read.

This was, at heart, an adventure story. It was a mash up of segments presenting challenges to Shiori. From traveling to the dragon kingdom, to facing evil forces within her own palace, to visiting the island of the demons where the dragon Wrath lives, there’s danger everywhere she turns. Each destination poses its own obstacles, forcing Shiori to press for victory.

However, there was one important aspect missing. What I loved about the first book was the character development and internal conflict with Shiori’s character. TDP didn’t feel internally focused. It felt 100% plot based. The goal was obvious—return the pearl to its owner. Sure, fine. But I like a character with an obvious flaw who must grow and change. That’s what a story is, at heart, isn’t it? Growth and change?? But Shiori herself wasn’t struggling with anything personal beyond her grief, and that simply didn’t offer the internal conflict I yearned for.

Whomp, whomp…

Overall, though, I did enjoy this. The writing swept me away, despite the lack of conflict within Shiori form the onset. Elizabeth Lim is an auto-buy author for me. I love all her work. I guess I just felt that SCC could have been a stand alone, with all the lose ends neatly tied up at the end, OR, some kind of obvious internal conflict with Shiori from the outset, to make this book necessary to her character.

𝐌𝐘 𝐑𝐀𝐓𝐈𝐍𝐆: 𝟒/𝟓⭐️


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