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.
Disclaimer: This review is not sponsored. I was part of the International Blog Tour for this book and I was given an e-ARC of the book by the publisher in exchange an honest opinion.
There is something fascinating and magical reading about stories of traditional origin. Authors with Asian descent truly offer vibrance in terms of world building, plot and the characters.
Song of the Crimson Flower was my first book by Julie C. Dao. I’ve gotten hold of her first two books (Forest of a Thousand Lanterns and Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix) for quite some time, but I never had the chance to pick it up before this blog tour started.
Now, after reading this stand-alone book, I wanted to binge read the first two books! I could sum up why I liked this book in three important points:
First, the world building. I know I only had limited visibility of this world when I started the book, but it wasn’t a problem since page one. I liked how she re-established the setting and the feels of the book right from the start — offering a familiar taste and feel to her first-time readers. Some parts pointed back to necessary information that were in the first two books, and for me, that really felt like the author encourages us to dive further into the world she created.
Second, the characters. Julie C. Dao introduced us to characters that are easy to fall in love with. Though I’m not entirely fond of mushy and cheesy characters (some of them are), I really think that I liked most of them.
Bao makes me remember that there is always good in the world. He’s always there to help other people even with his curse. Lan reminds me of someone who is brave and caring. She never fails to understand that her goals and pure intentions always go first than her personal feelings. These main characters, along with the supporting ones, makes you understand how the author wanted to tell the story.
Lastly, the plot. To be really honest, I was scrambling for the anchor when I started reading it. Again, that’s my fault for not reading the first two books. But when I started going deeper into the story, I realized that the plot was one of the major things that made this book strong. It’s not easy to create a stand-alone story from a well-loved series. But Julie C. Dao gave us something that’s worth reading. She gave us characters that will make us love the main series more.
I really liked the idea that this book speaks of love, but the story encompasses “love” across all of its aspects. We’re not only talking about romance, but it also includes love for family, friends and for yourself.
I would admit that some parts were not my cup of tea (the cheesy dialogue especially) Maybe because I wasn’t really that accustomed to see those on fantasy novels. I also would’ve really loved to see a bigger battle at the end. But regardless, I loved the central theme and how the plot was carried until the end.
Overall, Julie C. Dao’s Song of the Crimson Flower gives an added value to the first two books she wrote. If you’re looking for a book that weaves magic and tradition, sprinkled with a romance and adventure, this is the book for you!
Song of the Crimson Flower is already available for purchase worldwide!
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Julie C. Dao is the author of the acclaimed Rise of the Empress duology, including FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS and KINGDOM OF THE BLAZING PHOENIX. A proud Vietnamese-American who was born in upstate New York, she now lives in New England. Follow her on Twitter @jules_writes.