Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao (review)
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Reviewed by
Dao, Julie C. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns. Philomel, 2017 [384p](Rise of the Empress)
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-5247-3829-7 $18.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-5247-3830-3 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 8-12

Xifeng’s aunt, Guma, read her niece’s destiny in the cards when Xifeng was a small child: she was to rise far above her impoverished childhood in a tiny village in the empire of Feng Lu, maybe as high as the role of empress itself. Now at eighteen, Xifeng is determined to escape her abusive aunt, who wants to share in Xifeng’s glorious destiny, and become Empress without her aunt’s help. She runs away with her lover and soon manipulates her way to a position among the Empress’s ladies-in-waiting, where she schemes to catch the young Emperor’s eye and supplant his aging wife. Along the way, the dark magic Xifeng learned from Guma grows in its influence over her, pushing her to ever more brutal acts. Readers will be drawn into the lush, fully realized world of Feng Lu and be intrigued by the sinister forces that awaken within and around Xifeng as she makes what she sees as necessary sacrifices on the path to her rise. This opening volume of a new series efficiently wraps up its major storyline, while leaving tantalizing hints to pick up in subsequent installments. [End Page 112]

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