Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

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 fo...

Title:Forest of a Thousand Lanterns
Author:
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns Reviews

  • Julie

    Guys! This is my book and I am over-the-moon joyful that I get to share it with you all next year!

    The story combines everything I love: strong women and the complex relationships that shape them; the struggle between choice and destiny; a lush palace setting and handsome, brooding men; and a powerful, dark, tortured heroine I think of as a combination of Wu Zetian (the first and ONLY *ruling* Empress of China), Anne Boleyn, and Scarlett O'Hara.

    Please follow my blog and Twitter for the latest up

    Guys! This is my book and I am over-the-moon joyful that I get to share it with you all next year!

    The story combines everything I love: strong women and the complex relationships that shape them; the struggle between choice and destiny; a lush palace setting and handsome, brooding men; and a powerful, dark, tortured heroine I think of as a combination of Wu Zetian (the first and ONLY *ruling* Empress of China), Anne Boleyn, and Scarlett O'Hara.

    Please follow my blog and Twitter for the latest updates on a cover reveal, release date, ARCs, and more. Thank you all for adding this to your to-read lists and being so kind and excited. I sure hope some of you out there love it as much as I do!

    XOXO

    Julie

  • WrensReads

    How could I not fall under the spell of this book?

    I cannot express how beautifully dark this book is. This book is a typical-folklore fairy: beautiful and hypnotizing and just brings you in with your words... but it’s

    and probably going to kill you.

    Xifeng is a victim of abuse. Her aunt to

    How could I not fall under the spell of this book?

    I cannot express how beautifully dark this book is. This book is a typical-folklore fairy: beautiful and hypnotizing and just brings you in with your words... but it’s

    and probably going to kill you.

    Xifeng is a victim of abuse. Her aunt took her in once her mother was out of the picture and looked into her future. She saw that Xifeng was destined for greatness and that she could even become Empress of Feng Lu, if she played her cards right; those cards being completely dark and doing whatever she needs to do to get to her destined throne.

    The character building for Xifeng is literally out-of-this-world. She is so meek in the beginning and believes the horrible things her aunt tells her. She believes her beauty is the only thing she has going for her and she must protect her face at all cost. But then she realizes she doesn’t have to do things her aunt’s way... she can do things without her.

    and things get really complex and abstract from there.

    She wasn’t confident in herself. But as the story goes on, she becomes more and more confident that she can do anything and that is what makes her the most threatening person in this book.

    ; if you don’t know what that is, it is when the main character is not a good person but you find yourself loving and cheering for them anyway. And I had my pom-poms out the whole time in this book.

    The world building in this is so beautifully woven into the story. There is no world-vomit and there is no confusion. The East Asian setting was just jaw-dropping and vivid to the mind. I wish more authors would take this way instead for settings more often. I don’t really know a lot about this culture, but this has really peaked my interest.

    I don’t want to give things away, but things like heart-eating and step-mothers and clawing anyone who threatens her being

    are a part of this story. She goes about getting the throne in a completely different way than I thought she would, which was really refreshing.

    If you love creepy, unexpected, anti-heroes and surprisingly well-done retellings: this is for you.

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    I did not expect this to be the prettiest most dark book of my 2017 reads. Heck, I forgot it was a retelling and jaw-dropped when I reread the synopsis and then I died. RTC.

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    36% | This slow burn intro is everything I don’t want but everything I have needed. I’m going to be wrecked and I’m so ready.

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    I heard this was antihero... and it just came in on my overdrive/library... I need this to be my most favorite read of 2017 please.

  • Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)

    This was definitely slow to start, but I'm already absolutely dying to read the second book. I was invested in this book because I knew the main character was supposed to be ruthless, and I was not misled in any way. If you're looking for an origin story that's dark and twisty, this one is fantastic.

  • Roshani Chokshi

    HOLY FREAKING CRAP. THIS. This is the Evil Queen origin story of my dreams.

    I was lucky enough to get to blurb this fabulous debut, and here's what I said: "Searing and intense, Dao's debut is an outstanding character exploration of fairytales' most enduring and enigmatic characters: the Evil Queen. Equal parts lush and devastating, this is a tale that will grab you by the throat."

    I want to add a little more here because I haven't read a story like this in awhile. This book is catty. Murdery. Cl

    HOLY FREAKING CRAP. THIS. This is the Evil Queen origin story of my dreams.

    I was lucky enough to get to blurb this fabulous debut, and here's what I said: "Searing and intense, Dao's debut is an outstanding character exploration of fairytales' most enduring and enigmatic characters: the Evil Queen. Equal parts lush and devastating, this is a tale that will grab you by the throat."

    I want to add a little more here because I haven't read a story like this in awhile. This book is catty. Murdery. Cliquey. It's mean. Xifeng is Scarlet O'Hara with blood on her teeth, and I am here for it. This book is a dark mirror, and I cannot wait for readers to be horrified and enamored. I know I am.

  • Cait • A Page with a View

    Wow, that was amazing. I totally missed the memo that this was an anti-heroine story, so I had a stupid grin on my face while everything unfolded. I love anti-heroines when their journeys are heartbreaking, yet

    with clear motivation. And this whole thing was SO well done!

    First of all, the East Asian magical world is straight up gorgeous. The rich, detailed worldbuilding and strong writing made the whole

    Wow, that was amazing. I totally missed the memo that this was an anti-heroine story, so I had a stupid grin on my face while everything unfolded. I love anti-heroines when their journeys are heartbreaking, yet

    with clear motivation. And this whole thing was SO well done!

    First of all, the East Asian magical world is straight up gorgeous. The rich, detailed worldbuilding and strong writing made the whole atmosphere super vivid. But my absolute favorite part was the main character of Xifeng. She's so wonderfully complex & flawed and has a truly impressive transformation throughout the story... like such a HUGE shift took place, yet it happened gradually and always seemed like the next logical step. Her choices broke my heart at times but also had me cheering like

    Xifeng started out as a scared, sheltered girl living with her abusive aunt. A huge extent of that toxic relationship was conveyed in a short time, so the depth of that insight gave the story a really strong base for everything to just flow seamlessly. When Xifeng finally left with a boy who loved her, she wondered when she went from being her aunt's possession to his. The way she steadily got more agency and finally ended up as the unchallenged Empress is amazing (and this should not be a spoiler considering the series is called "Rise of the Empress").

    I remember hearing awhile back that this had elements of Snow White to it, but I don't think traces of the Evil Queen figure who's the fairest of them all and cuts out hearts is something that needs to be attributed to any single story. And I'm not familiar with most East Asian mythology that this might have referenced, so if you have some links please leave them in the comments! I adore clever inspiration like that.

    Basically, this was a really strong story and I look forward to seeing what Julie Dao does next!

  • Kaye

    Five-starring in advance because Julie is fabulous, her writing is fabulous, and diasporic authors have EVERY RIGHT to pen Asian-inspired fantasy without being cut down or degraded for it.

  • Marie Lu

    I adore an anti-heroine story, and Julie C. Dao achieves this with flying colors in a lush, richly developed fantasy world of myth, monarchy, and magic. Xifeng is an unusual and wonderfully complex protagonist of ambitious agency--I couldn't stop reading about her journey! Go pre-order this beauty immediately.

  • Jill

    Ok ok I finally have time to write a review. I'd like to start off with a big loud pterodactyl screech that might convey how unique and amazing this book was. I am thoroughly impressed. The entire plot was so well thought out and the characters were beautifully written (even if some of them were brutal as hell... yeah I'm looking at you Xifeng). Basically, I loved

    Ok ok I finally have time to write a review. I'd like to start off with a big loud pterodactyl screech that might convey how unique and amazing this book was. I am thoroughly impressed. The entire plot was so well thought out and the characters were beautifully written (even if some of them were brutal as hell... yeah I'm looking at you Xifeng). Basically, I loved it.

    Essentially this story is an Asian inspired twist on the Evil Queen from Snow White. It also seemed to incorporate lots of Asian mythology as well. I adoredddd this aspect because I'm not exposed to Asian culture very often in YA, so it truly was a breath of fresh air. There's also an antiheroine in the story and you have no idea how much I adore antiheroines like YES PLEASE GIVE THEM TO ME.

    I can not and will not get over the entire concept of this book. For the first half I would say I thought this book was about a 4 star read. But then something extremely dark and twisted happens and from then I was internally screaming until I finished the book. Now let me emphasize this again... this book gets REAL dark... There are certain violent scenes that are described that were hard to stomach... but they were done SO WELLLLL! I'M STILL INTERNALLY SCREAMING. AHHHHHH THIS CONCEPT.

    This story also breaks so many stereotypes and typical YA tropes... FABULOUS in that regard

    Next, the characters. Now, uh, as I mentioned before I adore antiheroines and LET ME TELL YOU... YOU DON'T THINK THIS PERSON WILL BE AN ANTIHERO UNTIL THIS THING HAPPENS AND AFTER THAT OH MY *cackles* sorry... was that too much? I just really love antiheroes don't @ me... Anyway... I enjoyed reading about all of the characters except for Wei... honestly I hated him the entire time oml...

    I will say the romance was a low point for me and what made me seriously consider whether this was a 5 star or a 4.5 because the romance in this book annoyed me to no end. However, I do understand why it was there and I respect it... That respect is as far as I will go.

    I feel like I already emphasized this but THE SECOND HALF OF THIS BOOK. The second half totally turns into a pre Snow White story and the ending HOLY SHIT I NEED THE SEQUEL. Now, I will say this is NOT a Snow White retelling... it's more of a PRE Snow White retelling and it seems as if the sequel may be more of a Snow White retelling. Don't go into this expecting Snow White... there were just so many hints and clues that point toward that story and it made me so giddy. And that second half man... it felt like a different book. When this book is released and if you aren't feeling the first part... I BEG YOU TO STICK WITH IT.

    This story had politics, demons, murder, gods, kingdoms, and a splendid world full of magic and darkness. I enjoyed it immensely. For sure pick this one up come October so I can have someone to freak out with! (:

  • Emily May

    4 1/2 stars. In short:

    is an East Asia-inspired fantasy in which a young woman chooses ruthless ambition and power over the love of a hot guy.

    I should probably say this is not for readers who must

    the protagonist in o

    4 1/2 stars. In short:

    is an East Asia-inspired fantasy in which a young woman chooses ruthless ambition and power over the love of a hot guy.

    I should probably say this is not for readers who must

    the protagonist in order to enjoy a book. I almost DNFed it in the beginning when Xifeng hates and/or is jealous of every other woman she encounters. Girl-on-girl hate is one of my all time biggest pet peeves in YA. However, it soon became apparent that this is kind of the point. We're not really supposed to

    Xifeng. She's a complex antiheroine and, honestly, it worked really well for me.

    The story opens with Xifeng living in a small town with her abusive aunt/Guma and secretly longing to fulfil the destiny the cards have predicted for her, again and again. The cards show a future of ultimate power, with Xifeng as the Empress, but there are sacrifices to be made and many obstacles to be overcome. She finally gathers her courage and runs away with her beloved, Wei, searching for a way to plant herself close to the Emperor and achieve what the cards have promised.

    . And I loved it! I experienced a whole array of emotions while reading. It's one of those books that gets under your skin until you're not quite sure how you feel about what is happening. On the one hand, Xifeng's dark jealousies and obsession with her own beauty should make you dislike her, and yet it is easy to feel the suffocating, frustrating cage of being a woman in a man's world.

    goes into a surprising amount of depth, never allowing characters to become one-dimensional stereotypes, and considering the complexities of abuse - how one can love their abuser for their few kind, gentle moments, despite everything. Even the most despicable character in the book offers us glimpses of her humanity:

    In a strange way, it's something of a feminist tale. Or, at least, a critique of a patriarchal world that can make a woman terrified of losing that which she considers her greatest weapon - her beauty. It may be difficult to like Xifeng, but I truly felt her claustrophobia and pain here:

    . The use of prophecy - and how a person can become obsessed with and corrupted by it - reminds me of the Shakespearean tale. I can't say I would want Xifeng for a friend, but I am very interested in where her story is going. I have a feeling things are only going to get darker and nastier from here. I can't wait.

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  • Melissa ♥ Dog Lover ♥ Martin

    October 2017 Fairyloot Box. We got two books. I added a link to all of the stuff in close up under the picture =)


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