Review (#DiverseDecember): Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

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Title: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress #1)
Author: Julie C. Dao
Date: October 10th 2017
Pages: 363
Publisher: Philomel Books

This will be my last post of 2017, I can’t believe it has been almost a year since I started this blog. Thanks for sticking with me!

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao is a Young Adult fantasy book set in ancient China. Xifeng has been foretold by her aunt Guma that she would become the most powerful woman in the world, Empress of Feng Lu. But in order to follow her destiny, she must reject the man she loves, Wei, and embrace the darkness in her that feeds on the hearts of the recently killed. From a small village, and from a poor background, she will rise above others and become Empress.

I admit I didn’t like Xifeng. She seemed so selfish and arrogant that her character irked me. She believed all the things her aunt said, and even though she was beaten and mistreated by Guma, she still loved her. She had a man who accepted and cared for her, but his love wasn’t enough for her. However, by the end of the book, I understood why Xifeng did what she had done and I couldn’t bring myself to despise her anymore.

On the contrary, I liked Wei. He was strong and intelligent, however I would have loved it if we had the chance to know him better.

Empress Lihua was lovely and her dream to have a female child understandable. She was kind and intelligent and, despite seeming always calm, she had a fire in her that I liked.

I had just one problem with the book, apart from Xifeng. I didn’t like that women could be someone important only thanks to their beauty. If you weren’t beautiful, you were no-one and you had no power. The book could give the wrong message, this is, beauty is all that matters, but intelligence does too.

I think I know how the story will continue and will end and I can’t wait to read the sequel to see what the author has in store for us.

The writing style was beautiful and the story quite captivating. The setting was wonderful and I loved it since I’m Chinese and I’m excited whenever an East Asian author publishes a book. I was torn about how to rate the book and decided to give  Forest of a Thousand Lanterns 3 out of 5 stars.

⭐⭐⭐

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About the author

Julie C. Dao is a proud Vietnamese-American who was born in upstate New York. She studied medicine in college, but came to realize blood and needles were her Kryptonite. By day, she worked in science news and research; by night, she wrote books about heroines unafraid to fight for their dreams, which inspired her to follow her passion of becoming a published author. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is her debut novel. Julie lives in New England. Julie is represented by Tamar Rydzinski of the Laura Dail Literary Agency.

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