My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Dragon's Promise picks up right after Six Crimson Cranes, so this review may have a few spoilers for that one.
Where the first book is solidly a retelling, this one ventures into its own path. Shiori has promised to return the dragon's pearl, so she sets off with Kiki and Seryu into the dragon's realm to do just that. But the dragon's pearl is a finicky thing, and its owner is not where, or even who, Shiori expects it to be. At the same time, Bandur is gaining power - and is angling to become the Demon King who will release the demons from the holy mountain and destroy Kiata (obviously by killing Shiori). So cue another adventure to return the pearl, save Kiata, and destroy the demons. And get married to Takkan.
I ended up liking The Dragon's Promise more than Six Crimson Cranes and it's not because I dislike retellings. I do love a good retelling, and I have done some myself. But where SCC just felt flat to me (I still don't get why everyone was raving about it), what I really loved about TDP was this parallel journey of discovery and redemption. As Shiori journeys to return the pearl, she uncovers the truth behind who her stepmother was and her motivations in setting up all that she did in SCC.
What I really hated about TDP was Shiori, because MY GOD DID SHE REGRESS. As I said immediately after reading the book:
COVID read #2: The Dragon's Promise - 4.5/5 stars. Super absorbing read but omg Shiori is SO annoying in this one. I liked her better with the bowl over her head.— Anna Tan (@natzers) June 26, 2022
So if you do read Six Crimson Cranes, it's really gotta be for this one. Which is mostly villain stepmother redemption, if you ask me.
Note: I received a digital ARC of this book from Hodder & Stoughton via NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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