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


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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Trigger Warnings: abuse

Release Date: October 10th, 2017

Pages: 363

Publisher: Philomel Books

Goodreads Review: here

Goodreads blurb:

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.


This was again another book I had no idea what to expect from. I’m really not a blurb reader and maybe I should be? I keep getting shocked by books and having no idea why I expected what I did once I finally choose to read the blurb. Basically, I’m a fool because it took me 60% of the book to realise I’m meant to hate Xifeng. She’s not a character you’re meant to love, she’s a ruthless character who is not afraid to use and abuse people to get to the top. Which is what she does throughout this book.

I did have some problems with this book though, hence why it’s only a three star. I was tossing up a four and a three for a long time, because for me the book fits in both categories. However, I couldn’t get past the fact I was a bit bored with the story in quite a lot of the book. I definitely enjoyed the book more from around 60% onwards but before that I was a bit bored with the build up.

This isn’t to take away from the world building or characters, which were phenomenal. Honestly, I was truly shocked with how much I enjoyed both those elements because I struggle to enjoy them in a lot of books. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is truly spectacular for that. The world and the depth draws you in and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Urging you to keep reading and absorbing the world.

I should also highlight majorly that any flaws I have with this book are truly my own. It was me who made mistakes that ended up in me not enjoying this book largely; including not realising it was fantasy. I’m truly a fool. I know. Another part was the abuse that featured throughout the book. There was a lot of it. I won’t go into details but abuse in books that I’m not aware of before reading tends to put me in a funk and contributes to my overall opinions of the book.


The plot for Forest of a Thousand Lanterns was a tad confusing for me. There are fantasy elements mixed throughout a story sent in an Ancient Asian setting. The Emperor reigns and our main character is fated to become the Empress. Our main character will do anything it takes to get there, using her beauty to escalate herself to positions and using anyone who so much as cares for her. It was dysfunctional and it was ruthless (I’ve used that word twice, but really, I have no other words to describe Xifeng).

I don’t want to say much about what happens throughout this book because it is best to go in almost completely unaware I believe. I don’t think I should point out things I liked or didn’t like. I’m curious to see what others like and didn’t like though. If you’ve read this book make sure to let me know!


I’m not going to talk about the characters much either. Purely because spoilers and I keep all my reviews spoiler free. I will talk a little about the main character, but everyone else you will need to find out about for yourself!

#X I F E N G (she-fung)

Wow, Xifeng. I barely have words. She reminded me of so many characters but was so unique. The most comparable character I have for her are the pair from Girls Made of Snow and Glass. However, where those characters had empathy Xifeng has none. She cares for herself and only herself. She must achieve the goal her Guma (aunt) has set for her and read in the cards. She will become empress if it is the last thing she does.

At times I found Xifeng hard to read. She is toxic. She is not a good person, at all. It was difficult to truly even like her. I still don’t like her. What I like is how talented this author is and how she was able to craft a character like this. That takes true talent.


Overall, the author is talented. This story was so beautifully woven and my only problems were within myself throughout this book. I truly recommend this despite the fact a three star rating may seem low. It is really a book that will take you by surprise. The message of living your life for you was also important, in my opinion, and something I really loved about this book.

Happy reading everyone!

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3 thoughts on “Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao | Review

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