Song of the Crimson Flower Book Review

ARC Review: Song of the Crimson Flower

Title: Song of the Crimson Flower
Author: Julie C. Dao
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐💫
Series: Rise of the Empress
Genre/s: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Goodreads synopsis:

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 won this ARC from a giveaway by Rafael of The Royal Polar Bear Reads a few weeks ago. It’s my first every physical ARC and I am so grateful! I thought I’d have to read the first books in the series first, but I realized this was a companion novel and it could stand alone. And so, I dived in!

This book was a nice, short read! The story weaved tales of unrequited love, dark magic, forgiving mistakes, fulfilling destinies, and families.

Song of the Crimson Flower Cover

Elegant yet funny writing

From the get-go, the writing style of this book was pretty elegant and formal, and I thought I wouldn’t have a lot of fun with it, but I was wrong! There were several quirks, funny lines, and funny moments. It was serious, yes, but the author managed to insert great moments that made me laugh throughout the book.

I also love how the writing had a deeply emotional touch of unrequited love. The way the author described it—the feelings, the experience—its was amazing, and I loved it.

Great characters

I also adored the characters! Bao is just a big ball of sunshine and I want to wrap him up in a blanket and protect him from the whole world. He has so much hope for the people and so much positivity in life, you can’t help but be in awe of him.

Lan, on the other hand, it took quite some time for me to warm up to her. At the end of the book though, I was so glad to see her bloom and grow and achieve that character development!

There were a few interesting minor characters, too! Huong, Lady Yen, Commander Wei, and of course, Mistress Vy. I loved her as a villain, and for me, all her actions and logic just made so much sense.

Uncomplicated yet exciting plot

The plot of Song of the Crimson Flowers was fairly uncomplicated, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. It was uncomplicated in a way that it wasn’t too complex, not too hard to follow for a YA Fantasy book. Sometimes YA Fantasy novels can get so tangled up when it comes to their plots, but this book, for me, was not like that. It was exciting in its own way and I was still so interested with the characters and curious as to how the story will take shape.

Also, apart from the main plot, the subplots will also hook you. There were elements about family, about identity, about love and marriage, about war and politics. I loved it!

Nice world-building but…

As a whole, I found the world-building nice. It was great to read about an East Asian-inspired fictional world. However, as much as I loved reading all about it, I can’t help but wish the book had a map. I haven’t read the two main books in the series, so I guess that’s why I had a little trouble imaging their nation, the kingdoms, and other relevant places in the story. It would have been nice to see a map as well just so the visualization was better.

I really enjoyed this book! I hope I get to read more of the author’s works soon!

Buy Song of the Crimson Flower:
Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble


This book comes out in November 5, 2019! So close! Have you read it? Is it already on your wish list? Come tell me in the comments!

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