Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao surprised me. I did not expect to read it as quickly as I did, but the storyline kept me turning the page (or swiping since I read it on a Kindle).
I had never read a story with an antiheroine, a character who is so self absorbed you don’t want to see her succeed. But you kind of want to with Xifeng. She is the perfect woman, with flawless beauty and intelligence. She is the girl who just by her beauty is destined to conquer many hearts. At the beginning of the story, however, we meet her and her abusive Guma, her aunt, so you sympathize for Xifeng. Her love story with Wei is beautiful and I just wanted to see her crowned empress. As the story progresses, however, she starts becoming more of a character that is easy to hate, which is what made this story so unique.
In a way, this is a story where evil conquers, in other ways, there is still the hope that love and justice will prevail.
This book was unique in many ways. It was refreshing to see characters based on different mythologies and cultures. The story is fantasy, but it is very easy to think yourself in Asia. The images were beautiful and the characters lovable. I wanted to see some of them avenged and I wanted to learn more about others.
There were many mysteries and backstories that seemed to be lacking in this book, but the story kept me engaged enough to not give up on it.
I would not have picked this book if it was not on this month’s book club discussion, and even though I really enjoyed it, I did not love it enough to read the sequel, which is why I give it a three star review.
My review: 3/5 stars ★ ★ ★☆☆