“A richly developed fantasy world coupled with an ambitious anti-heroine of complex agency, this story shines and surprises at every turn.” Marie Lu, #1 New York Times bestselling author
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.
“In the silence, the hunger began – deep and primal and fierce, stronger than anger, more potent than lust. The creature preened, its poison caress sending tingles of need into every fiber of her body. She was helpless in the face of its desire, for its craving was hers, as well.”
This sentence, full of aching hunger and intensity, is a great example of the beautiful yet scheming story that Julie Dao presents in Forest of a Thousand Lanterns. We watch one girl’s grapple between her dark destiny and the road towards light that sets the course towards turmoil in the court of the kingdom. This book is certainly not for the faint-hearted. Xifeng is an admirable, ambitious young woman who does not hesitate to rise up and take what she wants. Throughout the book, she battles between the fate that her Guma, or aunt, set up for her, and the whispers of happiness with her lover Wei that would eventually prove unsatisfying. Continue reading