Title: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns
Author: Julie C. Dao
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Series: Rise of the Empress, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
I found Forest of a Thousand Lanterns through a recommendation, and I’ve been excited about it; I’d had it on hold for a few months before it came out. It had been sitting in my library stack for a while. It had one last renewal on it, so I pushed it up the library stack—I’d been waiting for it for over a year and I didn’t want to take it back unread! I never would’ve forgiven myself, especially now that I’ve actually read it. And it’s a series! I can’t stop squealing with excitement! With a fun, diverse twist on the classic Evil Queen tale, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns captured my imagination with gorgeous prose, breakneck pacing, dark magic, forbidden love, and almost more political intrigue than I could handle. And that ending! I can’t wait for the sequel, and it can’t come soon enough!
Xifeng has been raised for more than the drudgery of a common village girl; she’s known of her destiny from the time that she was a child. Her cruel aunt, Guma, who is also a witch, has seen Xifeng’s purpose written in the stars. She must forsake the love of her childhood sweetheart, Wei, in order to pursue the ultimate prize: the position of the Empress of all of Feng Lu. When she is thrust into the world of the royals’ court, she must decide if she is willing to seize what the stars will for her, even if it means sacrificing everything she knows, even if it means stepping into an irreversible embrace with the darkness inside of her…
This book was a breath of fresh air for me! Fairy tale retellings are kind of like a type of literary crack for me; I’d devour them in all of their forms if I were able. But unfortunately, diverse retellings are so rare anymore. That was half the reason I was so excited about Forest of a Thousand Lanterns—an Evil Queen retelling set in an ancient, magical Asia, steeped with folklore, rich worldbuilding, and dark alliances! Forest of a Thousand Lanterns has become one of my favorite books of 2017, if not the favorite! It was just so good! The prose was lovely, and I was sucked into Xifeng’s dangerous, magical world where even the most innocent cannot be trusted, alliances constantly shift, and the darkness is always lurking. Rife with detail, romance, magic, and more than one twist, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns was a beautifully dark, horrific fantasy that turns a classic villain origin story on its head. The only bad thing was that I have to wait until next year for the sequel! And that ending! My jaw was on the floor! Julie C. Dao has become one of my new favorite authors of 2017, and I just can’t wait for more from her! The bottom line: A beautiful, dark, diverse Evil Queen retelling, I loved Forest of a Thousand Lanterns and I can’t wait for the sequel! Next on deck: Hit by Lorie Ann Grover!