I started this post the week before Thanksgiving with the intention of finishing it and posting before the hectic season began. Obviously, that did not happen. As some of you know, working in retail during this time of year drains you physically and emotionally. Now that black Thursday and black Friday are done with, I can finally post my newest review.
I finally finished Julie C. Dao’s book Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (FOTL) and rating it 4 out of 5 stars. It’s taking me much longer to finish the books that I’ve started. I stop at one point of the book and started reading something else which leads to me watching kdramas. When I picked up reading FOTL, again I couldn’t stop myself from staying up until 3 am straining to keep my dried-out eyes from closing.
I won’t bore you with the synopsis since it can be read on a number of bookstore sites. I’ll just dive right in to my review.
Let me just say I am not be a huge fan of anti-hero stories and I knew from the before starting this book it’s a retelling of the Evil Queen. With that in mind, FOTL was by all means not a terrible book.
Julie C. Dao wrote this book is so beautifully. I saw what Xifeng saw, what she felt (especially the part about the heart), and understood some of what she went through. When Xifeng *SPOILER ALERT* arrives at the palace, all I can imagine is the Forbidden City in its ancient glory. The descriptions of the clothes, the glamour, and aesthetics were gorgeous. Actually, the book reminded me a lot of the historical Chinese dramas I watched (The Princess Weiyoung 锦绣未央 and Scarlet Heart 步步驚心 are both great examples of inner court turmoil despite me not finishing either one).
Most anti-hero stories, I assume, are meant to make the reader empathize with them. I did at the beginning. It wasn’t until I was past the halfway mark that I was counting down the days to read about Xifeng’s downfall because it’s going to be glorious. She’s probably the most bad-A character I’ve read that I love to hate but deep down still love. Xifeng is the most resourceful heroine I’ve read. She knows exactly what to say and how to act to get what she wants. I kept thinking how this character is absolutely insane for achieving the goals that “destiny” had set out for her.
The men in this story were more like pawns compared to Xifeng being the queen. They would be the NPCs (non-playable characters) in a video game that help the main character get from point a to point b. Her ambitions and mindset is much more advanced than the men in FOTL. There wasn’t anything significant about them that stood out to me except for the patriarchal mindset of ancient Asia.
Well, I did like Wei, the childhood sweetheart of Xifeng. He is the embodiment of believing there is good in everyone. So stubborn and blind to see what was really going on. Absolutely human. Wei is the moral compass that Xifeng needed to steer her away from the path that was predestined for her.
Overall FOTL is a great book. I will probably read the second book to see how the Snow White character brings Xifeng down. When I read the last page of the book, I got goosebumps. I know it sounds absolutely terrible for me to say this but it’s true! I can’t but feel the way I do since I like seeing good prevailing evil.
Live long and prosper,
This next tidbit is more of a rant. You can skip this.
One of the many gripes I have about a lot of YA stories is how the Asian character rarely ends up with another Asian character in contemporary pieces. It only happens unless the book is set in ancient times. I’m not against interracial couples. I just want a POC to end up with a POC at the end.