Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress #1)
by Julie C. Dao
What is it about:
An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl's quest to become Empress--and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.
Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng's majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?
Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins--sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.
What did I think of it:
I love a good fairytale retelling, or as in this case reimagining, so when I heard about this book it immediately ended up on my wishlist.
And this is a wonderful read.
Even though this is a reimagining instead of a retelling and it tells the story of the rise to power of the Evil Queen - something the original fairytale of Snow White doesn't show - there are similarities to be found. But this tale is so beautiful and engrossing that those similarities are the last thing on your mind. I was too invested in the story to be busy comparing anyway.
Xifeng is a character who I could both relate to and despise, depending on the choices she made. During the story my opinion on her kept changing, but even at the moments I didn't like her I still wanted to keep reading to find out if her plans would work out.
The world building is absolutely beautiful. I could easily picture the settings, from the enchanted forest to the palace everything felt real.
The way this books ends makes that you could easily read it as a standalone, but also hints at enough things still to come to make you want to get hold of the next book. I will most certainly keep an eye out.
Why should you read it:
It's a wonderful Fantasy read.
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