If there was any way to give this book more than five stars, I would. In fact it deserves a thousand stars like its title.
It’s a masterpiece, guys, I’m telling you, this book is 100% a masterpiece.
I have so much feeling after devouring this book in a day it was that good. After I finished it, all I can say to the author
Okay, now what about this book that made me gushing about it so much.
First, what the book is about.
It’s a young adult fantasy set in East Asian (presumably Chinese) setting about the origin of Snow White’s Evil Queen. This will be the author’s debut book.
Now the things that made me fall for this awesome book:
01) The Plot and concept:
If you’ve seen the origin story of Regina aka Snow White’s Evil Queen from Once Upon A Time, don’t expect the same story for this book. While Regina turned evil over the loss of the love of her life, the protagonist Xifeng (pronounced She-Fung) is nothing like that. Without giving you spoiler, I’d only say that she’s ambitious and goal-oriented and a lot darker than Regina was in her origin story.
The whole plot was full to brim with symbolism and metaphor and amazing foreshadowing. A lot of plot twists punched me in the gut. This book may be the author’s debut book, but she knows her craft pretty well.
It’s rare to see a good innocent character turn evil in books these days but thanks to villain origin stories, they’re coming back. And I’m at an awe by the characterization of Xifeng. The way the author corrupted her heart and soul made me gasp aloud. You get so seeped into her goals and viewpoints that no matter how cruel and barbaric she becomes, you still want her to win. Her cruelty make you smirk, her heartache make your heart break. You never notice when she’s well past redemption. In fact, there was one truly gruesome deed by her that if it were done by a villain or any other characters, I’d have detested them. But when Xifeng did it, I rooted for her and cheered her on when she emerged successful.
Yeah I have a dark soul.
3) The setting:
It truly feels like another character of its own. The setting may not be the usual European or desert landscape of fantasy series but not once you feel like this setting is hazy and underdeveloped. It’s lush and sometimes the descriptions make you feel like you’ve entered the story itself.
04) The writing:
Like I said before, though this book was the author’s debut book, nothing about this book hinted that. Rather she felt like an experienced writer, crafting her third or fourth book after writing successful books like Marissa Meyer had with her Cinder series and then wrote Heartless. Julie C. Dao knows her craft and utilizes them well.
05) The heartbreak:
I’m not a crier. I rarely wanna cry over a book or a movie. But this book made me wanna bawl. Like there are several scenes the protagonist had with characters from her life in the beginning which made me press my lips to suppress my tears. Though written in third person point of view, the words were as if thoughts of the protagonist and I felt them so closely.
Truly truly heartbreaking a story.
So I’ve warned you, read this book with your heart locked away somewhere.
I’d recommend this book to all fantasy readers, especially you are a sucker for epic fantasy and tragic ending. I started and finished this book with two days to go for my finals. It’s that addictive.
Julie C. Dao can color me her staunch fan from now on.