Review: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

November 27, 2017

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns Review

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress #1)Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"She knew her own worth. She would seize her destiny with all the strenght and spirit within her, and bend them all to her will: every man kneeling and every woman overshadowed."

 This was amazing, I literally don't think I have words to describe just how much I loved this book. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is a reimagining of The Evil Queen's story, with it's world inspired on East Asian culture, and it's so beautifully written I already wish I had the second book on my hands.

"Beauty is all very well. But it is merely the gleam of the sword,"the chief eunuch said. "It is the mind that provides the sharp blade, and without that, well. We have a pretty piece of metal and not a weapon at all."

 The story follows Xifeng, a young woman who has lived under the care of her abusive aunt for eighteen years, trapped in a forgotten town and dreaming of the great destiny the cards have forseen for her, as according to them, she is to be the Empress of Feng Lu and rule over thousands. But for destiny to become a reality she must first seize dark magic and eliminate her enemies, which, at the Emperor's palace means almost everyone.

 Antiheroines will always have my heart, they are complex and ruthless and bound to make all the choices the common protagonist never does. Xifeng is delightfully dark and unafraid, she considers power to be above all kinds of love and affection, she was reaised to be an Empress and to endure. Even at times when her thoughts seem vain and jealous I can't help to relate to her in a way, after all she is trapped in a men's world and her beauty and intelligence are what set her appart from all others.

 Forest of a Thousand Lanterns feels more feminist than any other similar books I've read this year, as most characters are female it provides an interesting view inside the city of women, the place where all the concubines and girls at the service of the Empress live. These women's personalities go from cunning and seductive to motherly and kind, shining a light not only on the brilliant aspects of court, but also on the desperation that comes from becoming a possesion, ready to be set aside when Emperor grows tired.

"Life is difficult when you're born a woman in this world," the concubine murmured. "You've entered a game you can't win. Men make the rules and we are left to be used by them or claw our way to whatever scraps they've left behind."

 On top of this, the writing style is rich and detailed, painting a gorgeous background for the story in such an lush way that makes Feng Lu come alive in the most elegant way possible. It is rare, I think, to come across a retelling that is so well crafted, creative and is inspired on Asian culture, when most books of the sort lean towards European these days. I especially enjoyed how it explores motherly love over the romantic kind, it's a nice change, it feels fresh.

 I cannot recommend this book enough, I'm so glad I came across it.

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  1. Kelly | Creme de la Chic4 December 2017 at 00:06

    I think I saw this book on Goodreads last week, I'm so glad you liked it, I'll add it to my TBR. Love, Kelly.

  2. I'm definitely adding this to my TBR, I love retelling and with what you wrote about it, I'm pretty sure It'll end up in my favorites!