Hello, friends! It’s my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for The Dragon’s Promise by Elizabeth Lim. After the cliffhanger ending in SCC, I’ve been super excited to continue Shiori’s story so I’m happy to share my thoughts and favourite quotes with you today!
Thanks to Knopf Books for Young Readers for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!
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The Dragon’s Promise (Six Crimson Cranes #2)
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 30 August 2022
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Rep: Asian (Japanese)
Princess Shiori made a deathbed promise to return the dragon’s pearl to its rightful owner, but keeping that promise is more dangerous than she ever imagined.
She must journey to the kingdom of dragons, navigate political intrigue among humans and dragons alike, fend off thieves who covet the pearl for themselves and will go to any lengths to get it, all while cultivating the appearance of a perfect princess to dissuade those who would see her burned at the stake for the magic that runs in her blood.
The pearl itself is no ordinary cargo; it thrums with malevolent power, jumping to Shiori’s aid one minute, and betraying her the next—threatening to shatter her family and sever the thread of fate that binds her to her true love, Takkan. It will take every ounce of strength Shiori can muster to defend the life and the love she’s fought so hard to win.
**BTW, if you haven’t read Six Crimson Cranes, there are minor spoilers for book one in my review, so I would advise you read the first book beforehand!**
Note: The quotes below are taken from an advanced/unfinished copy and are subject to change in the final version.
TL;DR: The Dragon’s Promise was a satisfying conclusion to the Six Crimson Cranes duology. Lim’s writing is wonderfully descriptive and whimsical and does a fantastic job of transporting readers to all of the locations Shiori visits on her journey to fulfil her final promise to her stepmum. The familial and romantic relationships remain my favourite aspects of the story and I loved reuniting with Shiori’s brother, learning about Raikama’s history, and seeing the romance with Takkan grow stronger—it was delightfully sweet and there were so many heartwarming moments!
The story picks up immediately from where SCC ends so, I repeat again, there are minor spoilers ahead for book one if you haven’t read it yet!
“A promise is not a kiss in the wind, to be thrown about without care. It is a piece of yourself that is given away, and will not return until your plede is fulfilled.”
Check out my review for Six Crimson Cranes, the first book in the duology!
Lim’s writing is just as wonderful to read as in previous books. It’s poetic without being overly descriptive but it has a whimsy to it that makes reading them so enchanting. While Kiata and Iro were well established in the first book, in the sequel we explore several new places including Ai’long, the enchanting underwater dragon kingdom, the villages of Tambu, and the Forgotten Isles Lapzur. If you’ve read her Blood and Stars series then I think you’ll find that certain characters and locations ring a bell and I thought they were nice little easter egg moments for readers!
“I wasn’t a romantic, and no kiss would wake me—unless it was from a tarantula, not a boy.”
“What if you turn into a goblin shark or—worse yet—a blobfish? Caution is the creed of the wise, Shiori. Even the pearl agrees with me.
This sequel is a little darker as it deals more with demons and fanatical and bloodthirsty priestesses, but it’s packed with action as Shiori travels from location to location trying to fulfil her final promise to her stepmum. Shiori has definitely grown a lot since the first book but she remains true to her headstrong and occasionally impulsive nature. Accompanying her everywhere is, of course, Kiki, and she’s just as hilarious and this time, she’s also a bit more ‘lifelike’ than in the first book. There was so much I enjoyed about Shiori’s journey; from the places we visit, the magic we experience, the history we learn about, and my personal favourite aspects of Lim’s books: the familial and romantic relationships. It was so great being reunited with Shiori’s brothers and I loved that they continued to play a big role in her story. I liked that we also get to see more moments between Shiori and her father, the emperor, and we learned more about his relationship with Raikama. When book one ended, I was disappointed we didn’t learn more about Raikama but we finally get her history prior to becoming Shiori’s stepmum. It was heartbreaking but it continued to prove the strength of her character and how she has truly always been a badass.
“You’d do well to remember this: your heart is your home. Until you understand that, you belong nowhere.”
Then we have sweet and pure-hearted Takkan. Having read Lim’s first series, I have to say that she’s a master at writing these super soft, romantic and wholly devoted love interests and Takkan was all of that. I adored him and Shiori together! They both do some growing together as they learn what it means to trust and be open with each other while dealing with situations that put their relationship to the test. They balance and complement each other so perfectly and there were lots of heartwarming, swoony moments between them that made my heart flutter with happiness.
“You sound like you’re quoting one of those silly love poems my tutor used to make me read. You should know they always made me laugh. No one’s that romantic.”
Takkan was still smiling. “Then laugh,” he said in all seriousness. “I’ve missed the sound of you.”
That said, there were pacing and inconsistency issues that did affect the overall reading experience. While the pacing for the most part was okay there were moments that simply felt off. For how jam-packed the last 20% was, the middle, which dragged on and was mostly filler, could’ve been shortened considerably without affecting the overall story. There were also two critical moments in particular when the momentum picked up only for the pace to abruptly come to a stop either because the storyline would change or the pace would slow down for more character development moments. I love character development but the switch was so abrupt it was honestly quite jarring! I also questioned the decision to introduce so many new characters who I initially felt were given more weight/importance than they actually had because it quickly became clear that they existed simply to further Shiori’s arc. I’m not gonna lie, the fact that their roles in the story were not only short-lived but also ended so quickly was underwhelming.
“We are bound, remember? If you have no heart, I will give you half of mine. If you have no spirit, I will bind yours to mine.”
The ending was also surprising and not where I thought the story would go. I didn’t hate it and it does hit a satisfying note in that all the loose ends are more or less wrapped up neatly. My heart warmed at the sweetness of the love between Shiori and Takkan, which really satisfied me the most overall. Ultimately, this might not have been the second book I was expecting but it was a good ending to the duology. I can’t wait to see what Lim writes next cos I’ll definitely be reading it!
“Surround yourself with those who’ll love you always,” I began, “through your mistakes and your faults. Make a family that will find you more beautiful every day, even when your hair is white with age. Be the light that makes someone’s lantern shine.”
Elizabeth Lim is the author of the critically-acclaimed and bestselling The Blood of Stars duology (Spin the Dawn and Unravel the Dusk), the New York Times bestseller So This is Love, and the USA Today bestseller Reflection. Forthcoming books include the Six Crimson Cranes duology, expected summer 2021 and summer 2022, respectively.
Elizabeth grew up on a hearty staple of fairy tales, myths, and songs. Her passion for storytelling began around age 10, when she started writing fanfics for Sailor Moon, Sweet Valley, and Star Wars, and posted them online to discover, “Wow, people actually read my stuff. And that’s kinda cool!” But after one of her teachers told her she had “too much voice” in her essays, Elizabeth took a break from creative writing to focus on not flunking English.
Over the years, Elizabeth became a film and video game composer, and even went so far as to get a doctorate in music composition. But she always missed writing, and she turned to penning stories when she needed a breather from grad school. One day, she decided to write and finish a novel—for kicks, at first, then things became serious—and she hasn’t looked back since.
Elizabeth graduated from Harvard College with an A.B. in music and a secondary in East Asian Studies, and she completed her graduate degrees (MM, DMA) at The Juilliard School. She grew up in Northern California and Tokyo, Japan, and now resides in New York with her husband and two daughters.
Are you looking forward to reading The Dragon’s Promise or have you already read it? Have you read Six Crimson Cranes or is it still on your TBR?