Book Review: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of an Empress) by Julie C. Dao



“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.

Set in an East Asian-inspired fantasy world filled with both breathtaking pain and beauty, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns possesses all the hallmarks of masterful fantasy: dazzling magic, heartbreaking romance, and a world that hangs in the balance. Fans of HeartlessStealing Snow, and Red Queen will devour this stunning debut.”



I’ve been seeing this book everywhere and everyone is raving about it, so naturally, I had to see what they were talking about. This was an absolutely fantastic read and so unlike anything I’ve read in a long time.

First off, we had a strong female character. She was ambitious and not afraid to do what she needed to. She wasn’t a demure lady, what was expected of the time, but was willing to fight and claw her way to the top to become an Empress, or to at least try to get there. She was even willing to turn down love from one of her oldest friends. I kind of liked this because she didn’t fit the regular mold of a female protagonist. Even when they’re badasses they’re generally controlled, though Xifeng was almost evil in her own way!

It did have this kind of Snow White kind of feel about the entire thing, except that it was set in Asia.

It was also interesting where it was set. It felt like China most of the time, and most of the names were Chinese, but you could feel like you were in Japan due to some of the names as well.  But it didn’t really matter. The way that it was set made you just feel like it was a big mush of Asia.

Overall this book was absolutely fantastic. Everyone was raving about it so I had to check it out and I wasn’t disappointed. I highly recommend this one!

Happy Reading!

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