Review - Song of the Crimson Flower by Julie C. Dao

Song of the Crimson Flower by Julie C. Dao
Series: Rise of the Empress companion
Publisher: Philomel
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Date Read: November 3, 2019
Length: 288 pages
Source: Publisher via Bookish First
From the acclaimed author of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns comes a fantastical new tale of darkness and love, in which magical bonds are stronger than blood.

Will love break the spell? After cruelly rejecting Bao, the poor physician's apprentice who loves her, Lan, a wealthy nobleman's daughter, regrets her actions. So when she finds Bao's prized flute floating in his boat near her house, she takes it into her care, not knowing that his soul has been trapped inside it by an evil witch, who cursed Bao, telling him that only love will set him free. Though Bao now despises her, Lan vows to make amends and help break the spell.

Together, the two travel across the continent, finding themselves in the presence of greatness in the forms of the Great Forest's Empress Jade and Commander Wei. They journey with Wei, getting tangled in the webs of war, blood magic, and romance along the way. Will Lan and Bao begin to break the spell that's been placed upon them? Or will they be doomed to live out their lives with black magic running through their veins?
My Review

I had a fantastic time with this book!  It has been a long time since I was able to read an entire book in a single day but it was so easy to get lost in this book.  This wasn't a long book with less than 300 pages but I thought it told a big story.  The story grabbed me from the start and the story progress at a perfect pace to keep the pages turning.  I am so glad that I took a chance and decided to give this book a try.

This book is listed as a companion book to the author's Rise of the Empress series.  When I started reading this book, I had no idea that it had any connection to another book and I still wouldn't if I didn't happen to see it on Goodreads.  This book reads wonderfully as a stand-alone story.  I am thinking I may need to read the other books in the series though just because I enjoyed this one so much.

This was a wonderfully imaginative fantasy.  Bao has grown up as an orphan and knows that he is not worthy of those in the upper class.  He has lived with a local physician and his family and is training as an apprentice.  Lan is the daughter of an important man and has lived a rather charmed life.  She is looking forward to setting a date for her wedding.  Things fall apart for both Bao and Lan and their lives are forever changed.  They must work together to beat a witch's curse and will have quite the adventure working towards that task.

I really liked both Bao and Lan and wanted to see them together.  They have both made mistakes in their lives but they were really a victim of circumstances more than anything.  When Bao needed help, Lan didn't hesitate and I loved seeing them work together towards a common goal.  They didn't ask more of each other than they thought they would be willing to give.  It was really nice getting to see them get to know each other away from the opinions of society.

I loved the way some magic was worked into the story.  I thought that the curse was very well done and I liked how it evolved over the course of the story.   I liked that the magic wasn't an overpowering part of the story but there was enough to add a really nice element to the story.  This book had a very nice balance of action, romance, and magic. 

I would recommend this book to others.  I thought that this was a really well-done story that was a lot of fun to read.   This was the first book by Julie C. Dao that I have had the chance to read but I wouldn't hesitate to pick up more of her work in the future.

I received an advanced review copy of this book from Philomel Books via Bookish First.
About the Author

Julie Dao is a proud Vietnamese American who was born in Upstate New York. She studied medicine in college, but came to realize blood and needles were her kryptonite. By day, she worked in science news and research; by night, she wrote books about heroines unafraid to fight for their dreams, which inspired her to follow her passion of becoming a published author. She is the author of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns and Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix. Julie lives in New England.

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter


  1. Ohh, I really like the sound of this!

  2. So glad you loved this one. Sounds wonderful and isn't it great when you can devour a book in a day? Great review and the cover - so pretty!

  3. Charming. I always like magic. Fantastic review!

    Anne - Books of My Heart

  4. That worked out great that you were able to read it even though its a companion book. Neat how the magic was used, but wasn't distracting. Love that you got your reading mojo back with this one.

  5. i like when the book doesn't suffer because i read it out of order. i just did that with a book for my alphabet challenge. now i definitely want to go back and read the first one. great review
    sherry @ fundinmental

  6. Oh the cover is great there! And it looks interetingand well done

  7. Oh this looks like a fantastic book.

  8. Ahhh, to read a book in one sitting is such a pleasure!

  9. I love, love when you're able to read a book in one sitting. <3

  10. I love when you get so swept up in a book you read it in one sitting! And I can see why you did with this one, it sounds amazing!

  11. I love it when I can read a story in one sitting. Glad to hear you don't have to read the companion and it works as a standalone.

  12. This looks like an interesting read. Great review!

  13. Isn't it wonderful when a book just grabs us and won't let go? So we have to finish it in a single day? I love that feeling, glad you enjoyed the book.

  14. This sounds great! I love it when a book can stand alone as well as go with other books. And I remember wanting to read Forest of a Thousand Lanterns as well.

  15. It does sound so good. And a new author for me to try too.

  16. Beautiful cover! I love those few times when we find a book to devour in a day!

  17. Oooh! I love the cover! I love the sound of this one as well. Thanks for putting it on my radar!!

  18. Yay for getting fully immersed in a book and being able to fall head over heels into this epic fantasy world. The magic system sounds amazing and it is always fun when you ship the two main characters together. :)


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