Song of the Crimson Flower
Author: Julie C. Dao
Publication: November 5th, 2019
Age Group: 12+
From the acclaimed author of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns comes a fantastical new tale of darkness and love, in which magical bonds are stronger than blood.
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?
I’d like to thank Penguin Teen for allowing me to open the blog tour! My review is completely honest.
The book immediately opens up with our main female lead, Lan, who is serenaded by a flute from her soon-to-be betrothed, Bao. They seem to be the perfect match until an unexpected moment comes Lan’s way, causing her to push Bao and his advances away. Suddenly, a curse overtakes Bao and traps him in his treasured flute.
Let’s start with the curse. It’s placed on both of them by a witch, though she definitely has her motives. I suppose it’s like a lesson in disguise. To put Bao inside his flute is something I’ve never really come across in literature. The concept is very intriguing, which is what helped keep me attached to the storyline. I also like how the curse is attached to the bigger conflict going on between the five kingdoms.
I loved Lan’s character. She is very sweet and passionate and wasn’t portrayed to be the typical heroine we see in young adult literature these days, even though I do enjoy that kind of character. It was a nice change and I liked following her journey with Bao, who is also an equally kind character with a good heart. They’re both really good for each other and good match. Neither of them are “trained in battle” or what have you. Just two (sort of) normal characters. These two are just trying to work together and it’s a nice change of scenery for me. Obviously, their journey together helps the blossoming of their relationship and I found it to be as realistic as it could get for a fantasy-ish novel like this. Some parts gave me a little giggle. For instance, there’s the classic where they bathe close together and it’s meant to be a shock factor for that time period and situation. That kind of thing is always used a lot in this genre and it never fails to make me blush or giggle and just root even harder for the romantic trope.
A good thing to know is that some of the characters in the Rise of the Empress duology do appear as secondary characters, though I don’t think you need to read that duology to understand this novel.
Another excellent factor is that, if you’re already in love with Julie’s world that she has created with her previous work, then you’ll be even more in love with this novel. It’s pure, charming and perfect for every reader’s shelf.
About the Author:
Julie Dao (www.juliedao.com) is a proud Vietnamese American who was born in Upstate New York. She studied medicine in college, but came to realize blood and needles were her kryptonite. By day, she worked in science news and research; by night, she wrote books about heroines unafraid to fight for their dreams, which inspired her to follow her passion of becoming a published author. She is the author of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns and Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix. Julie lives in New England. Follow her on Twitter @jules_writes.