Monday, August 21, 2017

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

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
Publisher: Philomel Books/Penguin Random House
Pub. Date: October 10th, 2017
Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
The Wrath and the Dawn meets Snow White and the Huntsman in this dark and mystical 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.

Set in an East Asian-inspired fantasy world filled with both breathtaking pain and beauty, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns possesses all the hallmarks of masterful fantasy: dazzling magic, heartbreaking romance, and a world that hangs in the balance. Fans of Heartless, Stealing Snow, and Red Queen will devour this stunning debut.



After waiting for this book for what felt like an eternity, I finally read it and holy crap—I'm in love. I mean, it's about The Evil Queen's rise to power BUT it's also set in a fantasy Chinese-inspired world. If that doesn't have you rushing to add it to your TBR, I don't know what will. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is the tale of how the Evil Queen (a.k.a. Xifeng) gets her throne. It feels as if the Evil Queen herself has been dying to get her story told, and she finally is able to accomplish this with the help of Julie C. Dao.


Xifeng is an incredible character. Is she evil? Yes. Is she still fabulous? So much so, that I have heart eyes for days. While her morals are questionable, her drive and her passion are ravishing. She doesn't let anything stand in her way, and I found that to be incredibly inspiring.


Forest of a Thousand Lanterns well exceeded all of my expectations. It was dark, enchanting, and utterly alluring. This book will satisfy your need for villain stories, and will quickly have you begging Julie Dao for more.

1) I am a big fan of villains being villains. Give me a villain with an intriguing backstory and a real wickedness to them, and you'll have my attention. While I did feel for Xifeng, it was also easy to see her in all her heinous glory. The true magic of this book is how much I was cheering for her, even though she was doing plenty of terrible things.

2) Too many times have I read a story where the leading lady puts aside her dreams and ambitions for a man and while I don't think there is anything necessarily wrong with that (if that is really what the protagonist wants with her life) BUT it's refreshing to see characters who still go after their dreams, even if it means that they have to let go of someone they care about.


3) Julie Dao's writing is imaginative and lovely. Her style reminds me a lot of Roshani Chokshi and Stephanie Garber, with her lavish and atmospheric setting and descriptions. She truly captures that dazzling fairy-tale feel, and it's wonderfully immersive. 


4) This is a really fresh retelling! Julie Dao really makes this story her own. A new setting, a new perspective, and almost an entirely new plot. Over and over again have I seen retellings with no nuances, but that isn't the case with Forest of a Thousand Lanterns.



1) The beginning of the story was kind of misleading as to where the plot was going, but once I got through a couple chapters, my heart got involved and from that point, I was loving every second.





Have you read Forest of a Thousand Lanterns? What did you think of it? Is it on your TBR? Let me know!

32 comments:

  1. YAY!! So glad you loved this! I'm DYING to read it, and I adore villains who are well developed with deep backstories. I also totally love every point you've made - this books seems incredibly worth of the hype.

    Great review, Brittany!

    P.S. Those quotes gave me shivers. SO GOOD <3

    Amy @ A Magical World Of Words

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    1. Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed my review and I hope that you love this one as much as I do because it's fantastic.

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  2. I haven't read this book yet but your review just convinced me that I really want to get my hands on it. ^_^

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    1. I'm so glad that I could convince you! This book is a gem and I hope you love it!

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  3. COMPLEX VILLAINS ARE MY ABSOLUTE JAM. I am here for this one! <3

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    1. I love complex characters, heroes, villians, whoever! I hope you enjoy this one!

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  4. The graphics are so beautiful!! I cannot wait to get my copy =D

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  5. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I've heard some great things about it, and that synopsis sounds amazing.

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    1. I love this book and I can't wait to read Julie's next book!

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  6. Oh you have me wanting to read this one. Although I love to hate a villain, I also love to love them as well! :D I always love a complex personality. This sounds perfect for me.

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    1. I'm glad to hear it! Villains are wonderful to love AND hate. I hope you give this one a shot!

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  7. OOh nice! I just started this one myself! Though it's been a hectic day after a pretty busy weekend. I'm a bit scatter brained at the moment! Lol! Though hopefully tomorrow will be better and I will become invested in the story! I just passed the 100 page mark and am enjoying myself despite a few confusing moments, but again, the stress and chaos of the day was riding hard on my concentration! :P #booadulting

    But still, I am so glad to see you enjoyed this one! Can't wait to read more! Nice review!

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    1. Sorry your day was hectic! But I hope that you will find time to finish this one!

      Adulting sucks lol

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  8. I've been curious about this one for a long while, so I'm glad that it's as good as it sounds!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. It definitely is and I hope you love it as much as I do!

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  9. I've read it and loved it to bit!!! Will post my review maybe soon! LOL

    Kate @ The Bookaholic Blurbs

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  10. Yes!!! I loved this one so very much<3 Xifeng is the perfect villain and I cannot believe we have to wait so long for the next book!

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    1. It was sooo good Kristin! I can't wait for Julie's next book!

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  11. I've been so curious about this one since I first saw it listed on Goodreads. I'm so glad to see that you enjoyed it. I'm definitely going to be adding it to my TBR now, after reading your review. lol. Great review!

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    1. I'm so glad I could convince you to put it on your TBR! I hope you enjoy it!

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    2. Great info! The graphics are so beautiful!thanks for sharing this blog.
      eCommerce Product Description

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  12. I LOVE fairy tales! This sounds like a great twist on some old classics. Adding it to my TBR pile. Thanks for the heads up! New Follower-Nice to meet you!

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    1. It's an amazing twist on a classic and from a different POV, so that it's awesome!

      Nice to meet you ^_^

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  13. THIS BOOK WAS SO AMAZING AND OMG THAT ENDING DUDE!!!!! I LOVED your review and your graphics <3

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  14. Eee, yay :D So glad you loved this book so much Brittany. <3 Such a lovely review :) But ruuude. You are making me so so curious about this book. You make it sound aaamazing :D

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    1. Hahaha #sorrynotsorry. I hope you read this one as soon as it comes out and love it! And I tried my best to make it sound as amazing as possible, but I guarantee that my words don't do it justice.

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  15. I'm so happy you loved this book so much, Brittany! I have that one on my TBR and can't wait to read it - it sounds amazing! :)

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    1. Me too haha! I was worried that I wouldn't love it but I did! I hope you enjoy it just as much ^_^

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