Cover Image: Her Radiant Curse

Her Radiant Curse

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Member Reviews

3 stars

I'm so conflicted about this book. On one hand, the emotional beats in the last third of this book were beautiful, but the logic was not logicing for the series continuity (in SCC and TDP). This actually made me dislike SCC and TDP even more than I already did. Upon reviewing what I wrote about SCC and TDP, the author actually teased a lot of the things I put on my wishlist for a Raikama prequel but delivered it in such an unsatisfactory way.

Liz Lim needs to compensate me for teasing yet another dragon man romance and then swerving far, far away into vanilla traditional feminine societal roles, a vanilla boy next door romance (for Shiori in SCC and TDP), and motherhood and family=happiness (for Channi in HRC and onwards). In context, a lot of HRC's conclusion makes sense for Channari's character because she wants the family she never had and wants as much distance as possible from her abusive family and horrible hometown. I just don't like being teased with enticting alternatives and lampshades (where Ukhar said Channi could have been a powerful and renowned sorceress! and pursue other ambitions) and then the story ends with essentially Channi being like "nah i wanna stay in the kitchen". Again, Channi's choices make sense for her character. She doesn't need to change the world or anything. However, it does rub me the wrong way that Channi was "domesticated" in a sense. Like taming of a shrew but this time it's taming of a spear-wielding badass tomboy snake girl.

Like a less traditionally feminine character can't find happiness and is shunned by society bc she's ugly and cursed - Is there no way for her to find happiness as she was? I know Channi's transformation into Raikama was already set into stone, so this couldn't be avoided for her character specifically.

I have no desire to revisit SCC or TDP to know exactly how the prequel impacts how I view the main story with Shiori or whether this succeeded in being a White Snake story, but I felt that the sisterhood between Channi and Vanna had a lot more to say than the entirety of SCC and TDP combined. In a sense Her Radiant Curse was a successful prequel in that it explored Channi's past and gave us a glimpse of Raikama before she was Raikama.

I preferred Ukhar over Kiki immensely. It was both sad and endearing that snakes never forgot Channari even when she went to Kiata. Ukhar and Channi's bond was forever even when they were apart, but it was still sad that he couldn't come with her. Like honestly... taking on roles thrust upon you and being separated from the one being that cared about you unconditionally is overrated.

Hokzuh (aka Khremelan)... Oh what did Liz Lim do to you?? I felt for him in TDP because he had to suffer through Shiori and Takkan flirting the whole time he was around and now I feel for every dragon man Liz Lim has written and will write in the future because she clearly does not want any of them to win or have anything good?? I think if there's no follow-through with a dragon boy romance in Liz Lim's plans, she should just go intended main romance story (or platonic/familial love story tbh) without teasing other options (i.e. dragon; Seryu or Hokuzuh) when the other option is always the same option. Does this make me worry about Liz's future Beauty and the Beast retelling because there is a marriage contract with a dragon lord? A little, yes, given Liz's track record with dragons in these past three books.

I will also comment again on how the action scenes are written in this series - I don't think they worked for me, personally. I was stuck half way through the book for 6 months before I was able to finish it. The middle parts of the book drag on without much substance, and most of it was Channi fighting.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me an ARC for review.

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Probably my favorites in this fantasy universe! I loved the characters, and the story was really gripping and emotional.

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My Thoughts:
When I was looking for more non-white normative fantasy, the only Asian author I knew who was doing fantasy was Julie Kagawa. But Julie Kagawaʻs early fantsy was still using white characters, even if they were not "human." And then there was a whole slew of Asian, mostly female, fantasy writers using their own cultural folklore to create worlds and stories that involved both historic and new protagonists, mostly female. Elizabeth Lim is one of the OGs of this lady's club of writers. Her Blood of Stars duology - Spin the Dawn and Unravel the Dusk is similar to this standalone in that there are no absolutes, beautiful, ugly, demon, not demon, love, obligation. The only absolute in Lim's book is perhaps the idea that all of her characters will need to pay a huge price for what they want, and even then, they may not get what they want.

Finally like all of her books, including the Six Crimson Cranes duology with The Dragon's Promise, Her Radiant Curse will not give you the Disney happy ending/meet cute romance. If that is what you are looking for, she is not the author for you.

For this book specifically, I like that this could easily have been a duology, but that Ms. Lim played out the story instead of chopping it. Channi is so narrowly focused on one thing, that when the unexpected happens and she is not in control of her fate, the book could have easily been over, but it was not. So it may start at a betrothal contest and the sisters trying to save each other, but it is also a quest to destroy a witch, only to find out that these characters are complicated. Some Disney tropes are still here, but filtered through an Asian world view. For example, there is the evil-ish step mother, but she is joined by the biological father, not as evil, but more as weak willed.

Early on, when Channa's mom gives birth to Vanna and then gets very ill, Channa's dad knows that to save his wife, he needs to sacrifice the baby to a witch in the forest. But Vanna is born with a golden glow about her and anyone that is near her falls in love with her beauty and personality. Instead their father takes the older child, Channa and leaves her in the forest as a sacrifice. The demon witch/tiger does not take her. The king of snakes instead bites Channa. The venom scars her face and body while also making her blood poison and venomous. The demon witch does not want Channa but assures her that she will come back for Vanna when Vanna is grown. Channa spends her life training and searching for the demon witch and although they do meet again, it is not as expected.

The takeaway for readers is fairly simple: What is on the outside is not always a good indicator of what is on the inside. I appreciate the author putting all of this in one book. It makes it more complicated, but also more complex, which is good.

From the Publisher:
One sister must fall for the other to rise.

Channi was not born a monster. But when her own father offers her in sacrifice to the Demon Witch, she is forever changed. Cursed with a serpent’s face, Channi is the exact opposite of her beautiful sister, Vanna—the only person in the village who looks at Channi and doesn’t see a monster. The only person she loves and trusts.

Now at seventeen, Vanna is to be married off in a vulgar contest that will enrich the coffers of the village leaders. Only Channi, who’s had to rely on her strength and cunning all these years, can defend her sister against the cruelest of the suitors. But in doing so, she becomes the target of his wrath—launching a grisly battle royale, a quest over land and sea, a romance between sworn enemies, and a choice that will strain Channi’s heart to its breaking point.

Weaving together elements of The Selection and Ember in the Ashes with classic tales like Beauty and the Beast, Helen of Troy, and Asian folklore, Elizabeth Lim is at the absolute top of her game in this thrilling yet heart-wrenching fantasy that explores the dark side of beauty and the deepest bonds of sisterhood.

Publication Information:
Author: Elizabeth Lim
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (August 29, 2023)
Hardcover length: 432 pages

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the review copy.

This is my first full Elizabeth Lim book. I started another but haven't finished it. I really enjoyed this world and the characters. My heart felt for the sisters in here.

Rating 4/5

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This book was not what I was expecting, in a good way.
I really enjoyed the character development and the storyline kept me on my toes.
I’m looking forward to reading more of this authors works.

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I did miss that this book was a prequel, but it was still a very fun read! I checked out the main series afterward and enjoyed it, really loved the prose and characters!

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for granting me free access to the advanced digital copy of this book.

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4.5 stars

I don't typically like prequels, but I found the separation from the main story enabled this one to "work" for me. This book operates more as a stand-alone set within the same universe, with a few easter eggs for keen-eyed readers. As someone who loved Six Crimson Cranes, I was eager to read more from Elizabeth Lim, and I absolutely loved this book. Lim's writing is fascinating, beautiful, and complex, and her ability to give depth to characters is unique and rare. I highly enjoyed this book, and will definitely look for more Elizabeth Lim in the future!

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I enjoyed this one, but not as much as I enjoyed some of her others. However, this is a prequel to Six Crimson Cranes, which I haven't read yet. I didn't know that when I got offered the book; if I had I wouldn't have accepted it. I'm eating it 3 stars, with the caveat that once I eventually read Cranes I'll come back to this one and update this review.

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I wondered if this prequel would work since they rarely do for me. This one, however, completely surprised me. I think having separation from the Six Crimson Cranes duology helped. Lim creates a beautiful, fascinating and complex character in Channi. I also loved the exploration of the various relationships, especially Channi's with her long dead but deeply beloved mother. This prequel also strands well on its own with beautiful little Easter eggs for the reader.

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Elizabeth returns to the world of Six Crimson Cranes with the long-awaited backstory of Channi. Her Radient Curse is a powerful and well-rounded addition to Lim's bibliography, and possibly my new favourite. The story is very well structured with characters I found myself easily relating to. Their internal conflicts were very complex, with their external conflicts being just as bad if not worst. The world-building continues to be excellent, and Lim continues to be one of the best modern fairytale creators.

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After finishing the Six Crimson Cranes duology, I was extremely excited to get to this book and see Channi’s story from her own perspective. While it’s a core part of the duology, it’s still different to be there and see it happen, and get inside Channi’s head throughout it.

Even though I knew her story wasn’t a happy one, I still wasn’t fully prepared. The books I’ve read from Lim so far have been fairly happy and positive, despite usually having quite high stakes, so it was interesting to see a darker and sadder story in her style. I honestly think her writing lent really well to this sort of story-telling, one that carries the magic of myth and legend but with darker undertones and no promise of a happy ending. She was also able to write Channi in a way that remained consistent with the older version we see of her in other books while still adding a lot of depth to her character, and it showed to me that Lim has a deep understanding of this character.

I also love seeing characters that are a bit more morally gray, ones who have to fight harder to be good and are willing to accept that they may not always get to make the best choices. Channi is a character who has been dealt a bad hand in so many ways, with her only support system also being the largest source of her pain in a way. Throughout the book, we see her world start to open up a bit more, even if so many people try to keep her hidden and down. I loved seeing her strength throughout this book, even through all the trials and suffering she continues to be put through.

Overall, I think the characters were definitely the strongest point of this book for me, which is saying a lot because I also really liked the world-building and Lim’s immersive writing style. She was just able to make them all feel so real, and I loved seeing them interact with each other (even if not always on friendly terms). It made later scenes in the book hit even harder, since we had such a strong understanding of the characters and what these choices meant for them.

This book has certainly fully put me back onto Lim’s books and removed any lingering doubts, and I can’t wait to see what comes next!

Review will go live on my blog on February 27th!

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I really enjoyed HER RADIANT CURSE, the prequel to the SIX CRIMSON CRANES duology. In CURSE, Channi is willing to sacrifice everything, including her freedom, to protect her beautiful sister. As an eldest sister, I relate deeply to the Angelica-like “I would choose her happiness over mine every time” energy. I also loved the Helen of Troy elements and found the writing to be engaging and fast-paced.

Thank you NetGalley and Random House Children’s Books for the eARC in exchange for an honest review. I read the book via an audiobook from my library.

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This book was beautifully written. Any time I see a book by Elizabeth Lim I know I am in for a treat and this book did not disappoint. The characters are always so real and the images this author inspires with her words will stay with you long after you have put the book down

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This is the first book I have read by the author and I found it quite interesting. I enjoy mythology from different cultures and like how the author played up those aspects in her story. The sisters loyalty and connection to each other and the drive from that connection made this a lovely story to read. Thank you to netgalley for a proof to read.

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I have not read Six Crimson Cranes so I can't say anything about how it ties into that. I really enjoyed the relationship between the two sisters and how their love for and desire to protect each other drove the plot of the book. All the characters are well written and I particularly enjoyed seeing how they all viewed the prophecy and how that shaped their relationships with each other and how the curse brought them together. The setting was well done and beautiful. I loved the way the mythology was used in the story, the magical aspects were so captivating. All around this was a great book and made me even more excited to read Six Crimson Cranes. I have read a couple of Lim's other books and all around think shes a wonderful author and I look forward to reading more of her books.

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What I did read of this, I enjoyed. I will pick it up properly eventually, as being pregnant made it difficult to read anything. I highly recommend Elizabeth Lim’s books. They are so good.

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Plain and simple: Elizabeth Lin can do no wrong. Loved this book! Her stories are so emotional and deep and lush.

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I think me and Elizabeth just don't mesh well. I have tried several of her books and I always end up feeling meh about them and never finish the series. This is a case of just not for me but may work for others so I will still recommend.

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I enjoyed reading this one. But I didn't love it as much as I did previous books by this author. But I'm still going to pick up books by this author in the future.

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