Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress, #1)
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 forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng's majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins--sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress, #1) Details

TitleForest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress, #1)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 10th, 2017
PublisherPhilomel Books
ISBN-139781524738297
Rating
GenreFantasy, Young Adult, Retellings

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress, #1) Review

  • Marie Lu
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Cait • A Page with a View
    January 1, 1970
    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 completely understandable with clear motivation. And this whole thing was SO well done! "Your beauty is all you are, and all you have. Your only weapon." 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 completely understandable with clear motivation. And this whole thing was SO well done! "Your beauty is all you are, and all you have. Your only weapon." 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!Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC. The quote above was taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
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  • Julie
    January 1, 1970
    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!XOXOJulie
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  • Jill
    January 1, 1970
    "She was a monster, a bride of the darkness, and she rose to face her destiny as though it were the blood red sunrise of a new day." 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 "She was a monster, a bride of the darkness, and she rose to face her destiny as though it were the blood red sunrise of a new day." 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 regardNext, 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! (:
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  • Roshani Chokshi
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Kaye
    January 1, 1970
    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.
  • Cindy ✩☽ Savage Queen ♔
    January 1, 1970
    Cover Reveal: Good old Asian vibesBut re-reading the synopsis and seeing, "she must spurn the young man who loves her..." Me: Wait, does she love him too? OMG am I gonna be heartbroken again by another tragic love story!? Ugh my heart is not ready!!! ---It just makes me so happy when I see Asian protagonists because I saw so few of them growing up. Now with books getting a little more and more diverse, I get to see them more often, and it is just so nice.
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  • Angela (Liqi) Chou
    January 1, 1970
    It always amazes me when there are actual problematic books out there (The Black Witch, the Continent, Sad Perfect, anyone?) and POC choose to shoot down other POC. Racism, seriously? You realize the author is East Asian and the publisher used the term to show the book's non-European and point to a different general area of the world?SMH. Sounds a lot to me like that Wattpad 1D fanfic chick screaming because the author is Vietnamese. She went off the rails lying about being a sensitivity reader It always amazes me when there are actual problematic books out there (The Black Witch, the Continent, Sad Perfect, anyone?) and POC choose to shoot down other POC. Racism, seriously? You realize the author is East Asian and the publisher used the term to show the book's non-European and point to a different general area of the world?SMH. Sounds a lot to me like that Wattpad 1D fanfic chick screaming because the author is Vietnamese. She went off the rails lying about being a sensitivity reader and trying to smear the author's reputation back in January without ever reading or knowing a thing about the book, just because the author isn't Chinese. Yuuup, something smells racist.I'm mainland Chinese myself (born in Tianjin, moved to Colorado age 6, am now 28) and I can't wait to read this book. Also the author seems like one of the nicest, most hard working people. I submitted to her for Pitch Wars last year (a contest, looong story if you dunno what that is, lol) and she didn't pick me, but still took the time to help with my MG fantasy set in Taipei. So I'm all: MOAR ASIAN LEAD CHARACTERS YAAAAAAS. Plus if this book does well, mine might too ^_^. So ready for this book.((steps off soapbox and dances into sunset)) ^_^
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  • Kat
    January 1, 1970
    I am ALWAYS down for a YA fantasy and doubly down for one that draws inspiration from historic things like the Silk Road and East Asian cultures. Also, I have a weird love of "journey" books. This one literally journeys ACROSS NATIONS. Like, YES PLEASE. And you KNOW what comes with a story based on a trade route cutting through Asia: DELICIOUS FOOD! Don't even get me started on a retelling of the Snow White Fairy tale from the evil queen perspective. Ugh, salivating for this!As an Asian girl gro I am ALWAYS down for a YA fantasy and doubly down for one that draws inspiration from historic things like the Silk Road and East Asian cultures. Also, I have a weird love of "journey" books. This one literally journeys ACROSS NATIONS. Like, YES PLEASE. And you KNOW what comes with a story based on a trade route cutting through Asia: DELICIOUS FOOD! Don't even get me started on a retelling of the Snow White Fairy tale from the evil queen perspective. Ugh, salivating for this!As an Asian girl growing up with almost no heroines that looked like me to look up to, I latched onto Mulan and the yellow Power Ranger like my life depended on it. The idea of this book, one that is not only inspired by East Asian cultures but written by an Asian author, makes me tear up just thinking about it. This book is one of my most highly anticipated books of the year, hands down.
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  • Lola Sharp
    January 1, 1970
    I'm lucky to have read this ms already, and I know y'all know how stingy I am with 5 stars, but THIS BOOK, oh how it deserves all ☆ FIVE dazzling luminous stars ☆. Yes, I am friends with Julie, but read for lots of friends and rarely do I put up a starred review, and rarer still FIVE stars. TRUST ME, you want this fantasy on your MUST HAVE list. With lush, gorgeous prose (without ever being overwritten), this book is atmospheric and haunting with layered, complex characters and themes. It's muc I'm lucky to have read this ms already, and I know y'all know how stingy I am with 5 stars, but THIS BOOK, oh how it deserves all ☆ FIVE dazzling luminous stars ☆. Yes, I am friends with Julie, but read for lots of friends and rarely do I put up a starred review, and rarer still FIVE stars. TRUST ME, you want this fantasy on your MUST HAVE list. With lush, gorgeous prose (without ever being overwritten), this book is atmospheric and haunting with layered, complex characters and themes. It's much more than a twist on a fairy tale. I know this book will appeal to fans of Bardugo and Cashore. But make no mistake, this book is ALL Julie. I predict VERY big things. I'll say I knew her when. <3
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  • Cindy
    January 1, 1970
    a stunning debut! wow.
  • Vic James
    January 1, 1970
    I absolutely loved this dark, dark tale of palace intrigue and the war between love and ambition in the heart of one girl. Dao has a phenomenal imagination, and layers up the details of mythology and magic to create a truly immersive world that most strongly echoes imperial China, with neighbouring nations redolent of Japan and Russia.Take a moment at the beginning to read the pronunciation guide, so that you hear protagonist Xifeng's name in your head as you read, because this girl will suck yo I absolutely loved this dark, dark tale of palace intrigue and the war between love and ambition in the heart of one girl. Dao has a phenomenal imagination, and layers up the details of mythology and magic to create a truly immersive world that most strongly echoes imperial China, with neighbouring nations redolent of Japan and Russia.Take a moment at the beginning to read the pronunciation guide, so that you hear protagonist Xifeng's name in your head as you read, because this girl will suck you in - you'll be rooting for her to win, because of her self-belief and bravery, yet hoping she makes the right choices and not the wrong ones, because the darker path is always the clearer one before her. There are also some fantastic secondary characters: wise and lovable ambassador Shiro (yay for a person of short stature who, unlike Tyrion Lannister, gets a genuine love story), slippery eunuch Kang, ambitious emperor Jun and his mesmerising but unstable concubine Lady Sun. Dao draws them all clearly and convincingly, to give real emotional weight to Xifeng's decisions.I really, really loved this book. You might see it billed as a retelling of the 'evil queen' from Snow White - don't be put off at the the thought of yet another fairy tale reimagining. I'm not a fan of that genre, but it's lightly done here. An extra layer if that appeals to you, or one you can gloss over if it doesn't. It does make guessing about the next book fun, though - based off the ending here, I'd say book two will pick up the story in 16 years' time, or thereabouts. I'm just sad I've got to wait more than 16 seconds to get my hands on it.
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  • Bookevin
    January 1, 1970
    5 starsFULL REVIEW: https://bookevin.wordpress.com/2017/0...UPDATE: 2/7/2017Just finished writing my review of this glorious tome. I don't know when I will be posting it. Probably closer to its publication date but I doubt my review will do the book justice!If you are hesitant to preorder this, don't. Just preorder it. You will not regret it, chicken nuggets!Initial thoughts:One of the best books I've read this year. Hands down. Dark, twisted and so intense. I loved Julie C. Dao's debut novel! T 5 starsFULL REVIEW: https://bookevin.wordpress.com/2017/0...UPDATE: 2/7/2017Just finished writing my review of this glorious tome. I don't know when I will be posting it. Probably closer to its publication date but I doubt my review will do the book justice!If you are hesitant to preorder this, don't. Just preorder it. You will not regret it, chicken nuggets!Initial thoughts:One of the best books I've read this year. Hands down. Dark, twisted and so intense. I loved Julie C. Dao's debut novel! The writing is exquisite and the story reminded me of The Other Boleyn Girl but set in an East Asian setting!
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  • Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • E.K. Johnston
    January 1, 1970
    Here's a thing that basically everyone knows about me: I am not in this for anti-heroes.I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH.Dao wrote such an incredibly complicated girl who is fully aware of what she's doing, and that absolutely sold it to me. I loved reading it, and I loved cheering for the blood (because, I am telling you: there is quite a bit of blood). IT WAS SO GOOD.The supporting characters were amazing and the world was amazing and EVERYONE JUST HAS SO MUCH AGENCY I LOVE IT.I can't wait to see wher Here's a thing that basically everyone knows about me: I am not in this for anti-heroes.I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH.Dao wrote such an incredibly complicated girl who is fully aware of what she's doing, and that absolutely sold it to me. I loved reading it, and I loved cheering for the blood (because, I am telling you: there is quite a bit of blood). IT WAS SO GOOD.The supporting characters were amazing and the world was amazing and EVERYONE JUST HAS SO MUCH AGENCY I LOVE IT.I can't wait to see where it goes (I think it's a trilogy?), and I can't wait for the rest of you to read about it so we can talk. :)
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  • Crazy4Books
    January 1, 1970
    UPDATE: Physical copy just arrived in the mail and its soooo pretty. Im hyperventilating. I was just sitting there hugging it when someone walked in on me LMAO - Its not what it looks likeI cant wait to read this. It sounds amazing. I wish I had an egalley, but I was told Id get a finished copy when they come in so gotta be patient and wait for that.
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  • S.
    January 1, 1970
    Oh, y'all are in a real treat with this one.---OFFICIAL BLURB:Magnetic, seductive, and alluring, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is a lush, captivating read about the lengths to which we go to find our true destiny.
  • Marianne W
    January 1, 1970
    WHAT?!?!A retelling of the Evil Queen from Snow White, with Asian folklore/mythology/setting??Take my soul and sign me in.
  • Alexa
    January 1, 1970
    I have been looking forward to FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS ever since I first heard about it, and I'm so thrilled to be able to say that it didn't disappoint! I enjoyed the story of Xifeng, an ambitious girl who desires to be Empress and won't let anyone or anything stop her, an antiheroine who I both admired and feared. I was immediately drawn into the atmospheric setting (especially the descriptions of food and places and outfits), hooked on the lore (though I definitely want more) and the f I have been looking forward to FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS ever since I first heard about it, and I'm so thrilled to be able to say that it didn't disappoint! I enjoyed the story of Xifeng, an ambitious girl who desires to be Empress and won't let anyone or anything stop her, an antiheroine who I both admired and feared. I was immediately drawn into the atmospheric setting (especially the descriptions of food and places and outfits), hooked on the lore (though I definitely want more) and the fairytale vibe the writing and plot work together to provide. All in all, an extremely well-written debut novel and I look forward to many many more stories from Julie Dao to come!
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  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    I had the privilege of reading a draft of FOTL, and it more than earned every one of those five stars! Get excited for October, y'all! I fell head first into Xifeng's world and didn't want to leave! The pages are full of excitement and intensity, and amazing characters. I still remember a scene where my jaw dropped and I literally squealed. Julie is a fantastic writer and story teller! Don't miss this book!
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  • Anissa (FairyLoot)
    January 1, 1970
    Dark, brutal and so different to anything I've read. I loved all of the rich descriptions and following Xifeng's journey. Loved it!
  • C.B. Lee
    January 1, 1970
    Forest of a Thousand Lanterns shines with rich characters, a fantastic and detailed worldbuilding thoughtfully written by an Asian American author, and a cunning protagonist who is the anti-hero you've been waiting for. Xifeng wants more than anything to be more than her little village and get away from her overbearing aunt Guma, and takes a chance to travel to the heart of the city and meet the Emperor. As she enters court, she has to navigate the pit of vipers there; make friends and enemies a Forest of a Thousand Lanterns shines with rich characters, a fantastic and detailed worldbuilding thoughtfully written by an Asian American author, and a cunning protagonist who is the anti-hero you've been waiting for. Xifeng wants more than anything to be more than her little village and get away from her overbearing aunt Guma, and takes a chance to travel to the heart of the city and meet the Emperor. As she enters court, she has to navigate the pit of vipers there; make friends and enemies and every step is filled with danger. Xifeng's embrace of her powers and the court intrigue makes for an enthralling read.It is imperatively important that we can see all types of protagonists from different backgrounds in our media; the more characters of color there are, the less pressure there is for each character to have to represent every character in the community. We can see people as rich and complex when there are multiple characters; Forest of A Thousand Lanterns is important because Xifeng is fascinating as a person; she'll do anything she can to get ahead. Dao makes a bold move here and the book doesn't shy away from a descent-to-darkness arc that works incredibly well for Xifeng's character. Haunting, magical, and dark, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is the first in a series of a retelling of Snow White set in an Asian fantasy world. Avidly awaiting the next in the series.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is a reimagining of the evil queen from Snow White based on Asian folklore and mythologyHell yes sign me up for this one, it sounds awesome!!
  • Jack
    January 1, 1970
    Don't worry about the 1 star reviews. Some people will never be pleased. Keep up the good work. Cannot wait for this book!
  • Cora ☕ Tea Party Princess
    January 1, 1970
    5 Words: Family, power, magic, control, love.I am IN LOVE. This book was excellent and far surpassed my expectations. It was everything I didn't know I wanted.I loved the writing, the story, the descriptions, the characters, the manipulation and deceit and control.I can't wait to read on!Full review to come.
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  • Michelly Lee
    January 1, 1970
    THAT COVER THO.Edit: Laughing at all the one star reviews calling the author racist before the book has even come out. "Only Chinese people can write Chinese inspired books!" Are you fucking kidding me. I guess if all I could write was terrible One Direction fanfic, I'd be jealous of the author too.
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  • enqi ✨ (high lady of the night court)
    January 1, 1970
    The Wrath and the Dawn meets Snow White? With an Asian protagonist?By the way, JUST LOOK AT HOW PRETTY THAT COVER IS.
  • Shenwei
    January 1, 1970
    Wow, what a book. Y'all need this. Full review to come on my blog.
  • Brittany (Brittany's Book Rambles)
    January 1, 1970
    Read my full review of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns here!After waiting for this book for what felt like an eternity, I finally read it and holy crap—I'm in love. I mean, it's about The Evil Queen's rise to power BUT it's also set in a fantasy Chinese-inspired world. If that doesn't have you rushing to add it to your TBR, I don't know what will. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is the tale of how the Evil Queen (a.k.a. Xifeng) gets her throne. It feels as if the Evil Queen herself has been dying to Read my full review of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns here!After waiting for this book for what felt like an eternity, I finally read it and holy crap—I'm in love. I mean, it's about The Evil Queen's rise to power BUT it's also set in a fantasy Chinese-inspired world. If that doesn't have you rushing to add it to your TBR, I don't know what will. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is the tale of how the Evil Queen (a.k.a. Xifeng) gets her throne. It feels as if the Evil Queen herself has been dying to get her story told, and she finally is able to accomplish this with the help of Julie C. Dao.Xifeng is an incredible character. Is she evil? Yes. Is she still fabulous? So much so, that I have heart eyes for days. While her morals are questionable, her drive and her passion are ravishing. She doesn't let anything stand in her way, and I found that to be incredibly inspiring.Forest of a Thousand Lanterns well exceeded all of my expectations. It was dark, enchanting, and utterly alluring. This book will satisfy your need for villain stories, and will quickly have you begging Julie Dao for more.
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  • Jennymort ☆The Dark Lord, House of Slytheread★
    January 1, 1970
    *adds to tbr because i have no respect for my current own-tbr shelf*
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