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Review: Empress of a Thousand Lanterns (J. Dao)

June 5, 2018


This book gave me feelings, and not all of them were positive. On one hand, I do love me a retelling, especially a retelling of a popular fairytale. And I really love retellings that focus on the villain of the fairytale. So I had really high hopes for this book, and I really, really wanted to like it. And not just because a) I loved the cover and b) I wanted another excuse to buy more books. Unfortunately, that didn't wind up happening. The loving the book, not the buying more books. I still bought more books. Oops.


Xifeng has been told her entire life that she is destined for greatness, and that one day she will be the Empress of Feng Lu. But in order to achieve this goal, she must follow the directions of her cruel and callous aunt Guma, who has sent her down a progressively darker path. But when the moment comes, will Xifeng choose with her heart, or with that darker power stirring deep within her?


My favorite thing about this book was the fact that Xifeng was not a helpless little damsel who chose romance over every single other option. She actually put some thought into deciding whether or not she wanted to enter into a romance with Wei, and when Wei began to become a bit... controlling, she takes a serious step back and made it clear that she really didn't want to become "somebody else's", she only wanted to belong to herself.


I wasn't in love with the fact that despite not wanting to be labeled as "Wei's" she was awfully quick to be unhappy and jealous when other girls looked at Wei. So there was that. And there was also the fact that, despite Xifeng repeatedly talking about how horrible her aunt Guma was, kept running back to her. I understood why she did it big-picture wise, but it was hard to reconcile the two Xifengs that there seemed to be: the strong and independent Xifeng, and the Xifeng who would do whatever anyone else told her to do.


I also did love the concept of the retelling, because we all know that the Evil Queen has a thing with hearts, and it's been interesting to see it in multiple retellings like in Once Upon a Time (the TV show... of which I've only seen the first season...) and now this book. I'm honestly kind of eager to see how many other Snow White characters we get introduced to in future books, if any. So I probably will read the next couple books, just because I want to know what happens!


3/5 Stars

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