Title: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns
Series: Rise of the Empress #1
Author: 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.
I did not expect the way this book turned out. But I liked it!
At first it’s like your typical fantasy story, but slowly the lines between right and wrong, good and bad becomes muddy and blurry and after the final page was read and turned, I closed the book with thoughts whirling around in my head. The fact that it is a reimagining of The Evil Queen might have something to do with it. But I didn’t discover that until writing this review, so my mind was all over the place.
I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ve read that many books with antiheroes as the MC, but Xifeng is one for the books. This was so great and refreshing to read about a character who is by no means all good and pure, but whose ambition to retrieve her goal makes her do questionable things.
Xifeng is a character that I enjoyed reading about and follow on her journey. She uses her beauty to get what she wants, but she’s more than just a pretty face – Xifeng can be ruthless and calculating and will seemingly do anything to to the throne, which she believes she’s destined for. This gave her character depth and made her more complex especially in comparison with her love-interest, Wei. They are practically operating on opposite levels of the right and wrong scale.
The pacing was set really well and some of Xifeng’s actions left me with my heart in my throat several times as my eyes sped over the pages, eager to find out what happened next. The language flowed easily and I was left wanting more.
I liked how it set up the second book and I am quite anxious to see how it all turns out in the end. I am definitely invested in this series and I need to get Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix ASAP!
Overall, a great and rich story / reimagining with an interesting main character.
Have you read this book?
What did you think?
Do I recommend this book?
To fantasy lovers who likes an antihero story.