Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao – Review


Rating – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I get scared easily. I mean, really easily. Sometimes I watch something scary and think “I can totally manage this” but then I’m in over my head and I hate myself and regret everything and know I won’t sleep for a week but it’s too late now I can’t back out.


That is what reading this book was like for me. Before I started reading I was like

“Oh yeah, a Snow White retelling set in East Asia how cool!”

Then at about 15% in the book, our main character traps two rabbits and eats their hearts and I legitimately nearly started crying.

I am a queasy vegetarian. I do not need these descriptions.

What I’m trying to say is, this book is dark. It was around 15% when I realised I was in over my head but I couldn’t stop because mama didn’t raise no quitter

(And I had been accepted for it on NetGalley and had to post my review)

So yeah, this book is dark. Our main character is not in fact a heroine, but is actually a anti heroine who goes around eating hearts and plotting murders like it’s nobody’s business. She is cruel (see: eating hearts) and manipulative and cunning and it’s quite shocking. Xifeng goes from an abusive relationship with her aunt to plotting her way through the palace’s ranks.

Cruelty aside, I did like the fact that there was a small part of Xifeng that tried to throw the breaks on and stepped back to wonder what the fuck she was playing at. She showed her vulnerabilities with Wei, her childhood sweetheart, and proved that despite her wickedness, she did long to be loved. Having said that, her desire to be loved did not overpower her arrogance and stop her from treating Wei like shit, and then expecting him to come running back to her.

Julie’s writing is lovely, when it’s not gory. Her world is lush and even the bloody parts are so vivid that I had a difficult time drinking my Pepsi Max and not imagining it as lifeblood.

There is no real romance in this book, as Xifeng is so set upon her dream to be the Empress. Xifeng’s story is one of destruction, a downward spiral that proves that dreams do not always mean happiness.

I’m pleased that the next book isn’t coming out until next year; I need a year to get over those heart eating scenes. I’ll never be the same.

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me the chance to read this book*

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