“Song of the Crimson Flower” by Julie C. Dao
Source: Book of the Month YA
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy
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?
Like any good, self-respecting fairy tale, Song of the Crimson Flower contains a curse, a quest, and true love. It just goes to show that no matter the language, no matter the culture, some things just remain the same. This gorgeously lush Vietnamese tale is easy to step into and fall in love with.
I’m not a fan of romance in my books. I just don’t enjoy ‘kissing’ books but this was so lovely. Bao and Lan’s build up was really sweet and gentle. It gets off on a rough start and there’s a curse thrown in but it’s really great. It’s so nice to see a relationship built of respect and admiration. I also really enjoyed Lan’s discovery that not all men are horrible people like her ex-fiancé. It’s nice to see that other men (besides the love interest) can be viewed as kind, and noble.
I loved that Dao provided cast of character list and pronunciation guide at the beginning of the book. This should really be required of all fantasy books.
The story worked well enough as a stand alone book. [It’s not the book’s fault but I really wish Book of the Month didn’t offer books like this; I hate ordering a book only to find out it’s part of a series even if it stands alone]. That said, it does work as a stand alone. I followed the story. I knew what was going on. There were just some interactions with characters that you know must have been from the other books in the series. It will be nice to eventually at some point go read the other book(s) to see how things come together.