A Song to Drown Rivers

A Novel

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Pub Date 01 Oct 2024 | Archive Date 15 Oct 2024

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Preorder now and receive the stunning DELUXE LIMITED EDITION while supplies last―featuring a gold foiled cover, gorgeous sprayed edges with stenciled artwork, as well as exclusive metallic ink patterned endpapers and unique foiled front and back case stamps. This breathtaking collectible is only available on a limited first print run, a must-have for any book lover.

“Exquisite and devastating. It won’t fail to move you.” —Shelley Parker-Chan, #1 bestselling author of She Who Became the Sun

Inspired by the legend of Xishi, one of the famous Four Beauties of Ancient China, A Song to Drown Rivers is an epic historical fantasy about womanhood, war, sacrifice, and love against all odds as the fate of two kingdoms hangs in a delicate balance.

Her beauty hides a deadly purpose.

Xishi’s beauty is seen as a blessing to the villagers of Yue—convinced that the best fate for a girl is to marry well and support her family. When Xishi draws the attention of the famous young military advisor, Fanli, he presents her with a rare opportunity: to use her beauty as a weapon. One that could topple the rival neighboring kingdom of Wu, improve the lives of her people, and avenge her sister’s murder. All she has to do is infiltrate the enemy palace as a spy, seduce their immoral king, and weaken them from within.

Trained by Fanli in everything from classical instruments to concealing emotion, Xishi hones her beauty into the perfect blade. But she knows Fanli can see through every deception she masters, the attraction between them burning away any falsehoods.

Once inside the enemy palace, Xishi finds herself under the hungry gaze of the king’s advisors while the king himself shows her great affection. Despite his gentleness, a brutality lurks and Xishi knows she can never let her guard down. But the higher Xishi climbs in the Wu court, the farther she and Fanli have to fall—and if she is unmasked as a traitor, she will bring both kingdoms down.

"Stunning and heart-rending." —Chloe Gong, #1 bestselling author of Immortal Longings

Preorder now and receive the stunning DELUXE LIMITED EDITION while supplies last―featuring a gold foiled cover, gorgeous sprayed edges with stenciled artwork, as well as exclusive metallic ink...

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Featured Reviews

Stunningly beautiful and emotional. Spent the last fifiteen minutes of the book m crying while on a plane. Ann Liang has mastered the YA Romcom but she’s also showing she has mastery in other genres too. If you’ve enjoyed Ann Liang’s other books (This time it’s real, if you could see the sun) you’ll see some of the charm of those books here but really the his book is in the upper echelon of fiction based on Chinese history and legend.
Also a bonus for all the titanic girlies out there. There’s one scene that…well, you’ll know it when you get to it

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A Song to Drown Rivers proved to be a captivating read that effortlessly delivered everything. The storyline flowed smoothly, with well-crafted characters and a plot that kept me hooked from beginning to end.Overall, I think Ann Liang presents a mesmerizing tale of resilience, sacrifice, and the enduring power of love.

A special thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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This was my first Ann Liang read- and I was sent the book directly by St. Martins press! I am a big lover of Chinese/Japanese fantasy, and this did not disappoint. At first I was like okay…this is going to be a horrible story line, like who the heck can be too beautiful it is to her detriment, but whoa. Ann threw me for a loop- I ate this book up in like two days and it was NOT predictable like I thought it was going to be. Well written, romance, excitement, and curve balls- kept me flying through this book. Don’t doubt the story line- it’s worth it. I am definitely going to look into Ann’s other books- thank you St. Martins Press for the ARC read!

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Thank you Netgalley and St Martin's Press for inviting me to read and review this book! All thoughts and opinions are my own.

A Song to Drown Rivers is a breathtaking masterpiece that left me wrecked afterwards. I was instantly captivated and transported by Ann Liang's storytelling. The character development is spot on, and the world-building is strong. I fell in love with Xishi, her story and perseverance, and the people around her.

The romantic tension between Xishi and Fanli is chef's kiss. The secret hand brushes, the forbidden stolen moments, and the chemistry showcase that you don't need to have a sex scene for some spice. I had to fan myself a couple of times.

Ann Liang's writing is immersive and enthralling. I was hooked from the very first word to the very last heartbreaking page. I will forever recommend A Song to Drown Rivers.

If you enjoy reading Chinese and Japanese historical fantasies and watching dramas on Netflix, you will love this bittersweet and heart pounding story.

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★★★★★ - 𝐛𝐨𝐨𝐤 𝐫𝐞𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐰

A Song to Drown Rivers by Ann Liang
Book 1
༘Spoiler free ༘
Romantic, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
➳ Espionage & Infiltration
➳ Beauty as a Weapon
➳ Forbidden Romance
➳ Revenge
➳ Political/Court Intrigue
➳ Based on Legend
➳ Red Thread of Fate Theory

✨ “beauty is not so different from destruction“ ✨
Ann Liang brings the ancient legend of Xishi to life in a dance between truth and illusion, loyalty and betrayal, selfish desires and self sacrifice.

Detailed Review:
Xishi is recruited from her small village to infiltrate enemy realms. Her King’s Advisor, Fanli, trains her in the art of espionage and court protocols. What begins as a mentorship sparks an inferno of desire which threatens to derail her mission to save the kingdom. I found my heart aching for Fanli and could feel his suffering as he prepared the woman he was falling in love with to marry another man.

Liang’s ability to write complex and moving characters shone when Xishi arrived in her enemy’s court to woo the king. A number moments I had to remind myself King Fuchai was the enemy, and her mission was to destroy him. I found that this is where the story soared above traditional legend, the characters truly came to life in a way that made it impossible not to empathise with the events that so clearly shaped their lives.

Amidst the whispers of intrigue and haunting echoes of forbidden desire, “A Song to Drown Rivers” lures you into a realm where deception wears a beautiful mask, and the fate of nations hangs in the balance.

Who is the true enemy? Does duty to one’s country outweigh the duty to one’s heart? Beauty is a double edged sword, and Ann Liang’s writing will cut you to your core.

I completed this in one sitting, i found it that difficult to put down. While previously family with the tale of Xishi, i could never anticipate how moving i would find this book. I found myself in tears, longing for a reread of this beautiful masterpiece.

❧✧・゚: *✧・゚:*❦*:・゚✧*:・゚✧❧l

⋆ This should be a blueprint for how to write yearning/desire/romantic chemistry without including any sort of explicit descriptions. You could cut the romantic tension with a knife in this book.
⋆ Complex and relatable characters, even the antagonists.
⋆ despite being based on a traditional legend, the story was revived and revived margined in a way that allowed me to feel surprised
⋆ eloquent and immersive prose, Liang’s writing brought the pages to life.

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* *:・゚✧*:・゚✧

**Fantasy Scoring**
Worldbuilding ➷ ✅ 5.0/5.0
Foreshadowing ➷ ✅ 4.8/5.0
Plot ➷ ✅ 4.9/5.0
Relationships ➷ ✅ 5.0/5.0

Thank you to the Ann Liang, St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to provide my honest opinion on the ARC of this book.

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“I’m afraid of what comes over me when I’m around you. I’m afraid of how tempting it is, to ignore my own rationale, of how many excuses I can invent just to be closer to you. I’m afraid of how much—how much I want. Of what I want.

Ann Liang’s adult debut is a hauntingly, beautiful tale of forbidden romance. Every page is a piece of the author’s soul recaptured in the most devastating of words. Fanli and Xishi’s love affair is a tale written in the stars, a story that lives in all our hearts, and never lets go.

If I had a choice of three adjectives to describe this book they would be: devotion, forevermore, and echoes.

The author has created a devouring fantasy that pulls you in from the first sentence. I spent the entirety of my time reading utterly enthralled. “Sad, Beautiful, Tragic” (Taylor’s Version) by Taylor Swift is in the playlist for this novel, and the entire tale is bittersweet and soul-wrenching.

A Song to Drown Rivers made me believe in love. I felt the absence of air from the breath this book stole from my lungs. While my heart beat to the rhythms of romance throughout.

After finishing, I laid down, closed my eyes, and simply felt.

I cannot describe how acutely this book made me feel, except for the lasting impression it still holds. I feel a devastation within, one that only comes from true expression and longing.

I am honored to have been chosen to receive a free, digital galley of A Song to Drown Rivers.

A thank you is in order to the publisher, Macmillan; the platform, NetGalley; and the author, Ann Liang. All thoughts are my own and have not been influenced by any compensation.

- Lauren of bookisherondale reviews

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Mesmerizing is the only word I can think of to describe this book. The writing is exquisite, the story pulls you in as you are drawn into the world of the Wu and the Yue. Peasants and royalty alike have characters you need to learn about. Descriptions of lands, people and occasions in war and supposed peace leave you wanting to learn more. Your emotions go on a roller coaster ride as you move through time. I highly recommend.
Thanks to #NetGalley#ASongToDrownRivers#St.MartinsBooks for the eARC.

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I loved this book! So many twists and turns that were unexpected!! The forbidden romance too!! Ughhhhh so damn good!

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I must admit I have an absolute weakness for books that are inspired/derived from famous and historical events and people. Especially when you add fantasy to the mix.

This tale was woven together so beautifully. I was hooked from the first page until those last heart wrenching pages. The absolute emotions that Xishi agonized over throughout the book made her captivating to me. I love the growth of her character. She learns war and vengeance aren't just simple things.

The slow burn romance was a nice touch. If any of those associated with this tale were remotely like this back in their time, my heart aches for them all. Even Fuchai. Or maybe especially him. I love how we the reader also go through the Rollercoaster of war and the emotions. Whose is the right side? Is there one?

This is a tragically beautiful and breathtaking tale of love, war, betrayl...and growth.

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So, I picked up "A Song to Drown Rivers" for a long-haul flight, and I couldn't put it down! This book is like a rollercoaster of backstabbing and questionable life choices. Honestly, half the time, I didn't know whose team I was on. But hey, it's a wild ride, and I'm here for it.

The main gal, Xishi, has this whole beauty-as-a-weapon thing going on, trying to infiltrate enemy turf and bring down kingdoms – casual Tuesday stuff. Her trainer, Fanli, adds a touch of "will they, won't they" to the mix, but you know, with a lot more deception and fewer candlelit dinners.

The characters? Morally grey all the way. You'll find yourself wondering who's the good guy and who's just playing the game better, which I think was wildly intentional on Liang's part. The setting is vivid and colorful, making you feel like you're in a historical fever dream.

And let's talk about the themes – war, conquest, political pawns. It hits close to home and feels incredibly relevant. Would I recommend it? Absolutely, for teens and adults alike. If you're into a story where beauty is a weapon, and loyalty is as shaky as my Wi-Fi connection, this one's for you. Grab it, read it, and prepare for a ride that's more thrilling than your last breakup.

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“A Song to Drown Rivers” is luminous. The beautiful prose and story-telling captured my love from the beginning. Liang’s world-building transports the reader into the most lovely setting. The romance is tender and the friendship is real.

For those who love:
🪷 Spy in enemy kingdom
🪷 Betrothed to the enemy
🪷 Court Intrigue
🪷 Forbidden Romance
🪷 Music
🪷 Inspired by Chinese Legends
🪷 Historical Fantasy

Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this ARC.

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I very rarely give out 5 stars, but can I give this book a million stars?

The longing. Please gods, bestow us with a beautiful special edition or I will cry. Speaking of, I hardly ever cry when reading books, but this one had me in tears.

This is a beautifully written adult historical novel set in a fictional world resembling China - there aren't any magic or fantastical elements. It will force you to stay up until the wee hours of the morning just to see what happens next, and it will pull at your heartstrings until your heart breaks.

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Every word in this book builds up to a powerful end. Few do it so well.

A Song to Drown Rivers novelizes the story of Xishi, a figure of Chinese legend. Xishi is a young woman only familiar with life in her wartorn village. But her simple daily struggles can be set aside when royal advisor Fanli seeks her out because of her unparalleled beauty. He asks her to go as a tribute, and spy, to the bloodthirsty Wu king. She must learn the manners and talents of a court lady and, above all, learn to hide her true feelings, a task that may prove impossible.

This is no game of spies, but something that Xishi gives up her heart and freedom for. The futures of kings depend on her.

I was unfamiliar with this legend, and so, unprepared for this level of tragedy. But even now that I know, I want to read it again. There’s a mesmerizing quality to these words.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for this advance read. Five stars for these beautifully written characters struggling to balance humanity and righteous anger.

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if anybody is capable of writing an epic fantasy tragedy, it’s ann liang. a song to drown rivers is a lyrical work of art, weaving together a tragic love story, the toppling of an empire, and a little bit of a spy thriller. i the word i keep thinking of is tragedy. this story is a real tragedy, and ann liang was the perfect author to write it. she really brought to life these heartfelt, complex characters and their raw, complicated emotions.

i’m giving 4 stars instead of 5 just because there were some details that hinted at something deeper, but didn’t elaborate on them. i thought there would be some symbolic/poetic/spiritual reason for her chronic pain, since it had meaningful times that it would come up, but there wasn’t any. this is one book where i can say that it could be longer, and that IS a compliment.

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I was provided an ARC of this title for free and am leaving this review voluntarily. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

This one will stick with you for a long while after you finish.

POWERFUL and tragic don’t quite sum it up.

Thank you to NetGalley and the author for my review copy. I would be very interested to explore other work by this author.

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Stunning and heartbreaking. The author portrays the destructive power of both war and love, while also dealing with significant topics such as womanhood, duty and what’s left in the wake of the destruction caused by the greed of powerful men. The book is beautifully written and its characters are compelling.

A few things seemed a little too convenient at times, but it felt appropriate given that the story’s told as if Xishi is telling the reader her own myth and no tale survives without some degree of embellishment. I thought the conclusion was very well done and fitting of the brutal reality depicted in the story.

Many thanks to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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This review was made possible via an ARC through NetGalley

A Song to Drown Rivers by Ann Liang is a historical fiction retelling of Xishi, one of the Four Beauties of Ancient China.

I'm a big fan of the Four Beauties so I was very excited to learn about this book and it lived up to my expectations. I loved a lot of the prose and was immediately drawn in by the voice. I love women having revenge arcs and Xishi wants to help bring down the Wu Kingdom for what they did to her people and her sister, Susu.

Xishi’s love interest is Fanli, an advisor who was ordered to find the most beautiful woman in the kingdom to marry the Emperor of the Wu Kingdom. They are quickly attracted to each other but due to Xishi’s position as the future concubine of the Emperor, they cannot act on those feelings. There’s so much yearning throughout the book as Xishi navigates courtly life all while wishing she could see Fanli again.

I would recommend this to fans of Chinese history and readers looking for more historical fiction focusing on women.

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“The mind destroys; the heart devours.”

Entrancing and eloquent, Ann Liang draws you into her world with just the first few pages, and you find yourself at the end before you’re ready for it to be over. She truly gives this legend new life and a personal touch.

Our heroine, Xishi, a girl from a small village, finds herself at the heart of political machinations grander than she ever expected, and with help of a young military advisor by the name of Fanli, she is taught to use her beauty to ensnare and captivate. As the novel progresses, Xishi’s fragility and naivety slowly erode through to a backbone of steel she must use to protect herself and those she holds close in a hostile court with a capriciously cruel king she hopes to control.

“But what is desire?” “Absence.…We are most tempted by what we cannot have.“

Ann Liang has a way of conveying incredible weight and complexity of feeling in the smallest of actions and touches as we experience Xishi struggle between what she must sacrifice and the intense longing for what she wishes she could have.

This is a beautiful novel, with engaging characters, a compelling romance and a gripping political court intrigue. As the novel delves into the motivation and desperation of women establishing themselves in a world controlled by the greed of men, we too are forced to confront poignant plays on power dynamics and what the real difference is between a personal sacrifice and a political pawn.

As the novel comes to a close, it ends in the only way I believe this story could. I fully recommend this to anyone who would agree that true beauty is as devastatingly haunting, as it is breathtakingly exquisite.

A special thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. #ASongtoDrownRivers #NetGalley

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When we first meet Xishi, she is a young girl courageously and compassionately putting her own life at risk to save another. Xishi is discovered in her small village by King Gourjian of Yue's advisor, Fanli, who trains Xishi to be the King's concubine. She is chosen for the role based on her beauty, although in reality she becomes a spy to undermine the King. In A Song to Drown Rivers, we follow her journey and that of Fanli.

I was drawn to this book by its lyrical title and beautiful cover. What I found within was a historical fantasy featuring a strong, smart heroine. The prose has a lovely, poetic quality that is well-suited to the protagonists and tone of the story. I enjoyed A Song to Drown Rivers and plan to seek out other books by this author. I recommend this book to those who enjoy fantasy novels with a strong female lead.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the ARC of A Song to Drown Rivers.

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A Song to Drown Rivers was an incredible book. The author Ann Liang was notorious in the YA lit field, but this book was proof that she can write so many more genres. A Song to Drown Rivers was such a beautiful book with such an intense relationship between the two main leads. The world building and character building made the book feel very whole.

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A peasant girl with the help of her advisor is trained and sent to topple a kingdom as a concubine.
Chinese empires, war, espionage, the art of seduction and influence, love vs duty. A really beautiful historical retelling of one of The Four Beauties of China. Women celebrated for weaponising their soft power to break men and win wars. A story where warfare was felt but on the periphery. The bigger focus on the psychological tension of the h’s job. At its core a chaste and tragic romance that seemed to grow stronger where there was absence.

*It was a pleasure to read the ARC for A Song to Drown Rivers, thank you A. Liang and St. Martin's Press.
—Amia Lort on Goodreads

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It is so to my taste in a way I haven’t even considered exactly what my tastes are. It is simply incredible and it’s difficult to fill or even articulate the void it left in my heart after I finished it. It’s the kind of book you’d want to read in the daylight to soak up every word, every emotion and further bask in it.

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The plot was captivating, intriguing and filled with excitement. It has beautiful prose and the amazing word building. Plus, the characters were highly developed and well portrayed. This was a very enjoyable read.

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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC!

What an evocative and interesting story! I loved the writing and the opportunity to learn about a new to me history and culture and story.

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A Song to Drown Rivers
by Ann Liang
Pub Date: 01 Oct 2024

Her beauty hides a deadly purpose.

Xishi’s beauty is seen as a blessing to the villagers of Yue—convinced that the best fate for a girl is to marry well and support her family. When Xishi draws the attention of the famous young military advisor, Fanli, he presents her with a rare opportunity: to use her beauty as a weapon. One that could topple the rival neighboring kingdom of Wu, improve the lives of her people, and avenge her sister’s murder. All she has to do is infiltrate the enemy palace as a spy, seduce their immoral king, and weaken them from within.

Trained by Fanli in everything from classical instruments to concealing emotion, Xishi hones her beauty into the perfect blade. But she knows Fanli can see through every deception she masters, the attraction between them burning away any falsehoods.

Once inside the enemy palace, Xishi finds herself under the hungry gaze of the king’s advisors while the king himself shows her great affection. Despite his gentleness, a brutality lurks and Xishi knows she can never let her guard down. But the higher Xishi climbs in the Wu court, the farther she and Fanli have to fall—and if she is unmasked as a traitor, she will bring both kingdoms down.

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This book is an emotional roller coaster that will leave your heart in tatters. I will be thinking of Xishi and Fanli for a very long time with reverence. I admire their tenacity, their longing and their heartbreak. I even developed a fondness for Fuchai despite my initial feelings for him.

This was my first time reading Ann Liang's work despite having two of her other novels on my TBR and I was pleasantly surprised. This book has love, heartbreak, espionage, betrayal, revenge and so much more. What a wonderful novel that I will be recommending to everyone. I cannot wait to read more by this author.

Many thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press and Ann Liang for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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I just finished reading this book in one sitting.and this book is deviatingly beautiful. I got really involved in the storytelling of the court politics and could just not put the book down. There were times I was yelling at my book (in a good way) and other points that had me in tears. I fell into the book and love the writing style of the author, it made me feel like I was there with the main character. I highly recommend this book if you enjoy political intrigue from a woman’s point of view.

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This book is absolutely amazing! I couldn't put it down. It had me losing track of time completely. The world-building and story flow was great. I was utterly captivated by the characters and story. It is a must-read.

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Thank you NetGalley and St.Martin's Press for this ARC!

The moment I saw this book arrived on NetGalley I rushed to read it, I've been looking forward to it for months! I was wondering if I would enjoy this book as her books have been primarily YA and I have just recently starting delving into adult fiction however, I was not disappointed.
I wasn't too sure what I was diving into as I hadn't read the description in a couple of months, yet truly I was not expecting this. I continue thinking of the last chapter, I'm still in shock. I've barely had the time to read recently yet I read this in two days, I simply could not put it down!

I honestly think Ann Liang is incapable of writing a book under 5 stars!

*Reviews will be posted to Goodreads and Storygraph closer to the release date*

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My thanks to St. Martins Press and Ann Liang for the ARC. This is an amazing book. It has everything-romance, amazing world building in that one can see the world that Xishi lives in. The passion and the sense of urgency that compels Xishi to become the lady of the King of her worst enemy is very real. I could not put it down. It’s a great book

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I just finished this book and I'm thoroughly impressed. From the start, striking, vivid descriptions make the surroundings of the book undeniable and root the conflict in the land and the protagonist's body. There's a circularity to the narrative, but a real sense of change within the protagonist's thought processes. The intensity of the plot works well with the lushness of the prose.

I enjoyed the unexpected moments of wisdom from Xishi that fleshed her out as a character. Several things that she said or thought lingered in my mind, like her response to what desire is. Her perspective progressively broadens, and it's beautiful to read.

This book has so much heart.

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This book is a beautifully told retelling of the story of Xi Shi, one of the mythological Four Great Beauties of China. A heartbreakingly romantic tale, peasant girl Xishi is chosen because of her exceptional beauty to be used as a tool of revenge for her people. Trained in both royal etiquette and espionage, she is sent to become the concubine of a king whose army had brutally conquered her people. The tragic ending is both heart wrenching and poetic. I devoured the book in one sitting, and I felt heavily invested in the outcomes for all of the main characters.

I did read this book through an eARC graciously provided by NetGalley, but the preview pictures of the special edition with sprayed edges looks absolutely stunning. I will definitely be buying a copy to display on my shelves, especially because I know I will want to revisit this story again. There is a timeless feel to the way Ann Liang reimagines this legend that is highly re-readable and accessible.

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Ann Liang's A Song to Drown Rivers is an enthralling tale of longing, sacrifice, and a beautiful woman's quest for vengeance against the nation that murdered her sister. I read it in one sitting, but this story will haunt me for days.

Xishi is well acquainted with loss and sacrifice. Her sister has been dead for several years when she crosses paths with Fanli, military advisor to the defeated Yue king Goujian. Fanli is known for his brilliance in strategy and in battle, and he presents her with a unique opportunity to enact revenge against the kingdom whose soldiers killed her sister.

Despite the danger that she knows will await her, she agrees to be trained in the ways of the court so that the Yue king can present her as a bride to their conquerer, King Fuchai. She will make him love her while she works to destabilize his kingdom from within the palace.

I cannot say enough good things about this book. The pacing was perfect for me as an ADHD reader. Ann balanced moments of urgency with moments of quiet reflection in a way that kept me engaged from start to finish. She managed to weave an unreal amount of longing and romantic tension between Fanli and Xishi without a single touch between them.

She handled each character's journey and development with care, ensuring that the villains have gentle, loveable qualities and the heroes have frustrating faults. I especially loved the way she characterized the Wu king Fuchai. I could feel Xishi's growing conflict as she spent more time with the Wu king and his people and realized that they do not have to be monsters in order to do monstrous things.

I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy historical fiction, legend re-tellings, slow-burn romance, and heart-aching conclusions. This is the kind of book that will absolutely wreck you, but in a good way.

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WOW. This was such a fantastic book! I couldn’t put it down and actively SOBBED over the ending. So so so good and I can’t wait to recommend it!

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***thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for sending me an arc***

This book was incredible. I will be thinking about Xishi and Fenli for weeks to come. I blew through this in about 6 hours, and while it wasn't necessarily short I was so enthralled by the story I blinked and it was over. The last few chapters destroyed me and I'm sitting here wishing there was more.

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this is so well written, the plot gets you hooked, the characters get to your heart. im definitely gonna be thinking about this books for a while. it's a new all time favourites and it's definitely what i would call a masterpiece.
i feel mesmerized by this book. if you really like historical dramas this is a MUST. it's such an epic, heart-shattering love story. i felt so connected to the characters and really cried my heart out for the characters.
the story is fast paced in my opinion. we have xishi, a village girl with a heavenly beauty that's selected by the minister of the yue kingdom to be the concubine of the enemy kingdom in order to spy and plan an attack. during her journey we see a bit of the training she gets with the minister, and after that they concentrate on her journey in the enemy kingdom as the king's concubine. how she lures him with her beauty... it's really interesting to see the view of the enemy kingdom up close after having seen the first impressions from the yue kingdom.
this was so captivating from the very start. i really loved this one. Ann Liang has so much potential in this genre, i would love to read any other future works of her in any genre, but especially this one!
i'll write a detailed goodreads review closer to the publication date.

A special thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Ann Liang has once again proven her literary magic with "A Song to Drown Rivers" – and let me tell you, five stars are a gross understatement for this epic tale! This book is an absolute gem, a stunning, compelling, and emotionally charged journey that left me breathless.

This heartbreakingly romantic retelling of Xishi's story, one of the legendary Four Great Beauties of China, is nothing short of a literary marvel. Liang effortlessly weaves a narrative that draws you into the tumultuous world of a wartorn village, where the protagonist, Xishi, evolves from a simple village girl to a pivotal player in the political intrigue of the Wu Kingdom.

The beauty of this novel lies not only in its captivating characters but also in the exquisite romance between Xishi and Fanli. Their forbidden attraction adds layers of intensity to the story, making it impossible to put down. Liang skillfully navigates the complexities of courtly manners, espionage, and the struggle to conceal true emotions, creating a gripping narrative that resonates with both passion and intrigue.

The characters are not just names on a page; they're living, breathing entities with motivations that unravel like a meticulously crafted tapestry. Xishi's journey and the desperation of women in a world dominated by the ambitions of men are explored with a depth that tugs at the soul.

From the very first page, the writing grabbed me, pulling me into a vividly painted world where every setting felt palpable. The attention to detail and the well-crafted characters make this novel a feast for the senses.

In conclusion, "A Song to Drown Rivers" is not just a book; it's a literary gem that deserves a special place on every reader's shelf. Ann Liang has outdone herself, creating a world that is both enchanting and thought-provoking. If you're ready for an emotional rollercoaster through a world of love, politics, and self-discovery, this book is an absolute must-read!

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I finished A Song to Drown Rivers less than five minutes ago. I am broken and I am healed and I am changed. Xishi -the girl who becomes the blade- has carved her name into my heart. This is my first Ann Liang book and I am absolutely blown over by the beauty, the tenderness, the soul tearing heartache of this story. The ugliness of war is perfectly balanced by the delicate gentleness of love -between mother and child, lovers real and counterfeit, long-lost fathers and their daughters on a bloody journey for vengeance. The Asian representation I've longed for is so present throughout the entire book. Xishi's mind is so vivid, handled with such care -from the details of the food she eats to the description of the silk threads she washes in cold river water. I can only hope that we are lucky enough to meet these characters again in another story from Ann. I will think of Fanli and Xishi and Fuchai and Luyi and all the rest fondly until then, or until we meet them again on the other side of the river.

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Ebook received for free through NetGalley

An incredible with characters and scenery and everything that grabs you and doesn’t let you go. I’m so glad I came across it.

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4.5 stars

I really love this book. What well written and beautifully flawed perfect characters. The whole story just flows, and the prose is pristine. I really want this special edition for my shelf ❤️

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First, I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher that I was able to get an arc in exchange for an honest review.

We enter the Wu and Yue kingdoms, where a war has taken place and the Yue have fallen but want their revenge. We then meet Xishi, who is elegantly beautiful and can use it as a weapon. We then meet Fanli who recruits her on their mission to avenge the Yue kingdom and defeat the Wu. Xishi must captivate the king, Fuchai, and have him consumed by her while she takes the kingdom from the inside.

Ann did such a beautiful job with the writing style where she was able to express the background and different details of the characters and keep you hooked still on every word.

This is one of my first works by her and I am excited to see what else she has and has planned.

This story was a beautiful tragedy and I have no words to describe how much it broke me but how much I love it.

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The only comment I want to make on this book is it left me feeling utterly destroyed in the best way possible. Immediately reading the rest of the authors catalog but also slightly concerned with what I may be getting myself into.

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This book is a masterpiece. I felt like I was reading an epic tale passed down over centuries. It was an epic revenge tale that should be considered a classic and studied.

I loved the relationship between Xishi and Fanli, of course, but I couldn’t help loving Fuchai. When it was stated that it was a war between two kings, it all fell together so perfectly.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who asked, and even to those who didn’t ask. It ripped my heart out over and over in the best way.

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This book was a really lovely read. The story of Xishi, a legendary beauty sent to bewitch a conquering king to leave him vulnerable to an attack from her oppressed homeland, seemed like a story I'd heard before, and for the first three-quarters of the book it was very much what I thought it would be. The writing is good enough to invest you deeply into Xishi's world: not just her mission to take down the king, but also her loved ones, her village, and the people she comes to know in the enemy palace. When all the pieces come together at the end, the book takes you to an unexpected place that you realize it was building to all along, because legends (and beauties, and kings, and warriors) are all just people, too. I highly recommend reading all the way to the end of this book.

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You know the saying "You're gonna suffer but you're gonna be happy about it." Well, I'm probably sure this quote is about this book. I'M A MESS. I was sobbing while turning the last pages.

Ann Liang's writing, the poetry of her words, delivered a powerful tale of love and sacrifice, inspired by the legend of one of the famous Four Beauties of Ancient China, Xishi. It's a beautifully tragic story, mesmerizing and breathtaking. Heartbreaking, too. But I'll read it again for the first time if I could. I highly recommend it.

Thanks to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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A Song to Drown Rivers is a book that if you love court intrigue, Chinese dramas, doomed love you need to have it on your lists. It's just... I got no words. None. It's been a while since I walked away from a book thinking about it, and realizing that I thought I had this book figured out for the author to absolutely take it in another direction and crush me.

I mean, from the first chapter, I thought that I knew where this would go. Girl gets trained to be a hidden asset to a kingdom currently being crushed by another. The girl is kept at a distance from the one who sets this all up, trains her to be absolutely ruthless with her beauty, while both of them start having feelings for the other. Will they be together? Will they admit their emotions? SHOULD they admit their emotions?

As soon as the main story got wrapped up, I realized there was 15% left in the book. I asked myself, what else needed to be done? Quite a bit. Because that's when everything you knew gets flipped, and it wouldn't be a Chinese drama without the things that the author had her characters go through. Shockingly though, while some would hate it, it fit. And the title, the title came to haunt me and the world that these characters live in.

I just really can't say any more about this book. Read it. Ride the emotions out. It's worth it.

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I felt the beauty and the sorrow. The betrayal and the love. Each more moving than the last.
It’s a rare thing to fall for the enemy, all the while still rooting for and hoping for the original heroes. To be given characters that are so complex yet simple. So noteworthy yet entirely realistically human.
The way the ending had my emotions in an absolute chokehold.. I’ve never read Ann’s work before, this was my first mistake. Reading the ending right before I have to get ready for work would be my second mistake. (I’m not crying.. you’re crying). Not telling everyone about this book will NOT be my third. To the people who have to wait until October to read this, I feel for you. To not be able to witness this amazing writing and story yet..
This story will stay with me for some time. Until I read it again when it all starts to fade.

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writing this with shaky hands and tears streaming down my face.

i hate this book. it's so intoxicating that you are FORCED to leave other responsibilities in order to finish it as soon as possible. irreversible damage has been done to my mental health. and i'm also sleep deprived, but that doesn't matter because i just read this masterpiece.

this book is now the center of my universe. i am deceased ???

as a major history + mythology enthusiast, thank you ann liang for giving me everything i needed.
+ please do write more books in this genre, i'm begging you. my fragile heart can't take the amount of wasted potential for ann liang as a fantasy/asian mythology author.

thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the arc in exchange for an honest review !

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5 out of 5 stars

Ann Liang has written an amazing fast pace, beautiful, and heart-breaking novel that I couldn't not put down.

Xishi is a force to shake mountains. Fanli is equally as magnificent. Every scene was perfectly crafted.

I didn't know it was possible for my heart break so many times before the end of a book. Liang has accomplished just that. The pages in A Song to Drown Rivers are filled with lyrical and mesmerizing lines page after page that keep you addicted. I could not stop, I had to know what was going to happen through the war, love, history, mythology, pain, beauty, hope and loss I was completely shattered.

This is not my first book by Ann Liang and as always, it did not disappoint. This is hands down going to be a top book for 2024!

TW: Gore, Murder, Suicide
#ASongtoDrownRivers #NetGalley

TY NetGalley, this was an honor to read!

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my heart is shattered.
ann liang, why did u do this to me? i am never recovering from this

-full rtc closer to the release date 💌

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Perfection!! this was absolutely amazing!!!I devoured this! this was so much more than what I expected!
OMG I'm literally speechless. when I tell you I ran to preorder this! I mean look at the cover it's stunning and those edges !! chef's kiss!
Can't wait to have this beauty on my shelf! Amazing read, definitely recommend! 10 stars!!

*thank you to netgalley and the publisher for an arc in exchange for an honest review*

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This book was the equivalent of being stabbed in the heart with a bejeweled dagger by someone who you called a friend. It was beautiful and heartbreaking and I don't know if I will ever recover from that ending. Ann Liang's contemporary novels are amazing, but they don't hold a candle to what she can do with fantasy. Liang weaves a breathtaking tapestry of star-crossed love, sacrifice, betrayal, and the reality of how blurred the lines of war are. I don't know if I have ever read a novel that tugged at my very soul like this before. A Song to Drown Rivers exceeded all of my expectations-- I cannot recommend it highly enough.

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Ann Liang's latest book is an absolute masterpiece! I had high expectations for this historical romance novel, and I was not disappointed. As soon as I saw the book on NetGalley, I knew I had to read it. The plot was beautifully crafted and the characters were well-developed, making it a truly immersive read.

The story of Xishi and Fanli's relationship was both heartwarming and heartbreaking, and I found myself laughing and crying throughout the entire book. Liang's writing style is so engaging that I felt like I was right there with the characters, experiencing their emotions and struggles.

Although the book was not very long, it was packed with enough action, romance, and drama to keep me hooked until the very end. I was so invested in the story that I was disappointed when it ended, wishing there was more to read.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves historical romance or is interested in reading about forbidden love. Ann Liang has truly outdone herself with this one, and I can't wait to see what she writes next.

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Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this Arc .

Ann Liang weaves a stunning masterpiece of love , betrayal , sacrifice and the grey areas of war . ASTDR is as exquisitely written as her contemporary books . Reading it was just like watching a xianxia drama .

Wish for Ann to write more books in the mythology/fantasy genre

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i am out of words. first and foremost, i am absolutely utterly grateful i got the chance to read my number one most anticipated release of the year. safe to say that i had the best time ever reading A SONG TO DROWN RIVERS by Ann Liang.

when the author shared that "sad beautiful tragic" is a part of the song playlist, she was right, because it indeed was. it may not be a five-star read for everyone, but it is to me, in fact this book is an infinity star read. these characters, the story, the ANGST! it was all i could ever want. it had me clutching my chest, tears were shed, i fell to my knees countless of times. no thoughts, head empty just a song to drown rivers, a song to drown rivers, a song to drown rivers filling every crevice of me. it's a part of me and they will haunt my thoughts for as long as i live, i really couldn't have asked for a better read to start the new month with.

a huge thank you to Ann Liang and the team for providing an arc!

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SCREAMING, CRYING. The last page ruined me for life. I WILL be forever haunted by this story. I definitely need to read a light-hearted book after this one.

This is my first Ann Liang book, and her writing is poetic. She delivered us a powerful story with a beautiful tragic love affair. I didn't originally know the story of Xishi, so I went into this blind and I don't know if I regret it or not. MY HEART HURTS. I can't wait for it to come out so I can purchase it.

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Freaking PERFECTION. 10/10. This was just so so good. I couldn’t get enough of it and wanted a thousand more pages of this.

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Let me start off by saying that I received this advance copy to read from NetGalley.

This novel is based on the Chinese legend of Xi Shi - one of the 4 beauties of Ancient China. And it was an absolute joy to read this take on the legend, which had me turning pages and not wanting to stop. It was a rollercoaster of a ride, and my emotions were everywhere. It had me in a chokehold, and when I wasn't reading this my mind was on it in one way or another.

The process, build up, relationships, everything was written so wonderfully. The romance, the heartache.

I cried so much. There were many parts that I just couldn't stop crying, and wished upon wished why the events couldn't have been different. Perhaps... just maybe...

5/5 for me.

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Wow - I truly truly loved this book. I was totally captivated from the beginning, and was dying to get back to it any chance I get. A story of star-crossed relationships, and playing the assigned roles during wartime and history. Characters become larger than themselves, their duty overshadowing all else. This book left me in a puddle on the floor, and I cannot stop thinking about this story - just wishing for more of it! The writing style is illustrative and very effective. I highly recommend this book! Five stars! Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

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the last two chapters oh my god i rarely ever cry when i read books but tears couldnt stop spilling from my eyes. i truly wasnt expecting it. ann liang definitely needs to write more fantasy.

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Elegant prose creates world building that ensnares you from the first chapter. Liang creates characters that are relatable and magical.

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thank you to netgalley and the publisher for this arc in exchange for an honest review!

i truly believe that this is a book that everyone who enjoys fantasy should read. i cried like 5 times reading it?? the characters pull you in and the plot keeps you intrigued the entire time. xishi and fanli were the definition of what characters should be. that’s all i can say without spoiling the book but i highly recommend this to all readers, the imagery and writing were perfect.

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This book was outside of my usual genres, and I do not regret reading it one bit and will definitely be reading more of it. It was a beautiful work of art filled with sacrifice, tension and yearning. It tugs at your heart strings and you can go from wishing death upon one character to not even knowing who to “root for.” The ending was truly heartbreaking.

The authors way with words, antithesis and how she worked poems really made me think deeper about the social issues of the story, especially those surrounding war.

The characters were complex, and I felt as though I got attached to them very quickly. We as the readers get a glimpse into their backstory’s, and what motivated them to the places they are in throughout the story.

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disclaimer: received an e-ARC, all opinions are my own


the book reads like a poem, it crushed me and left me weeping. and i'll read it again, and weep some more. i've never highlighted as many passages in a book. the last 70% were read in one sitting, on my kitchen stool, because i couldn't even bear to look away for long enough to move to the couch. like?????

the characters are well-developed, Xishi is so human it hurts. i love her. (i love them all but she is her) this story is living in my mind so vividly, i'm unsure how to move on. i giggled, i fought against the pit in my stomach, i stilled with anticipation, the array of emotions i went through during this read i will never recover omg

midway through i pre-ordered the hardcover, i want to reread it so badly when it's done being edited and in its physical form, although if nothing were to change i would love it as it is. also the hardcover is GORGEOUS!!!!

*(update: i reread my highlights and im crying again, i finished reading this book last night and im still in pieces)

it's going on my favourites shelf and i will not stop talking about it until it's released and everyone else gets to experience my pain. i swear it's worth it though.

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the arc.

I write this review with tears streaming down my cheeks and a feeling of emptiness consuming me. This book is endlessly immersive with some of the most vivid imagery and characters I have experienced in many months. The writing is effortlessly captivating and poetic, creating some of the most meaningful quotes I have ever had the privilege of reading.

In Liang's adult debut you follow Xishi on her mission to make the enemy king fall in love with her so that her kingdom can attack, and I can not possibly see a way that this book could be executed any better. The plot seems rather predictable in the first 50% percent, only to take you for an absolute whirlwind in the latter half.

The romance in this novel is one of copious amounts of tension and longing, and it is FANTASTIC, it is what gave me life but it also what killed me emotionally. It pains me that this book is unavailable to the large majority of people, because this book is everything the world needs.

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Ahhhhh this was just such a great read. I just didn't want this book to end and I was sad to turn the last page. I'm so excited to see what's next from this author.

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I am screaming. This is PERFECTION.
This was my first dive into Liang's work, and it certainly won't be my last. Her writing style is nothing short of poetic.
A Song to Drown Rivers was devastatingly beautiful. Retelling of a Chinese legend of Xi Shi, one of the 4 beauties of Ancient China. I was completely captivated, unable to tear myself away from the pages. I will be purchasing this book when it is released.

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This book was so captivating from the beginning. The story is moving and I couldn't put this down. The ending completely devastated me and was not at all what I expected. I feel so emotional after reading this book and can't wait to recommend it to everyone in October.

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This book was AMAZING! i will be buying a physical copy and will be recommending this to everyone i know. This was a beautiful story. 5/5.

Thank you netgalley for the ARC!

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Wow. This book brought me to tears. I finished reading and had to take a moment to reflect on if I read it right. I need more like this and with the writing style. I cannot tell you how much I would recommend this to others. At no point did I know where this book was going to take me in the best way possible.

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An emotional ride featuring a clever protagonist that absolutely sticks the landing.

I finished this book a while ago, but I had to sit with my thoughts for a while because they are many. Like the lead character, this book is beautiful and clever and ambitious and tragic, and I found myself caught up in it the whole way through. Espionage tales are tricky, but this one really fulfills is promise, with a lead character who is absolutely cunning, and I love every move she makes. Pacing can be a bit hard to follow in some places, with large portions of time passing quickly in a way that makes me feel a TV show would convert it into a quick musical montage. The parts where it slows down to really detail the character interactions are by far the best parts, and I was surprised at how delicate and tender some of the emotions are. If the description of the book seems even the least bit interesting to you, give it a read. Strong recommend on this end.

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This book is absolutely exquisite. It ripped me apart in the best possible way. The prose was elegant and engaging the characters were crafted with care and nuance and the worlbuilding and storyline were just so rich and satisfying. The narration was so immersive; it never took me out of the story at all. This is the kind of book you can tell will rip your heart apart from the beginning but you just keep reading because you have to, it's that good. If you like stories that surprise, rich world building, romance that doesn't annoy you or leave you dumbfounded, female characters that are smart, complicated, and human, and a fair share of exquisite angst, this is for you. A hero journey, coming of age epic that grips and delights for sure.

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I've never read anything like this before, Xishi and Fanli are so cute! I'm glad Ann Liang is exploring the historical fiction genre, I love all her books but this one is so special. More thoughts to come :)

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What a wild intro to arc reads via NetGalley. This book just destroyed me (positive). I’ve been staring at my wall the last 5 minutes since finishing it. It was reminiscent (to me) of Daughter of the Moon Goddess, in how the historical Chinese architecture and clothing was described. Absolutely stunning imagery, I’m obsessed. The writing was beautiful, and as a Virgo who can’t help but find mistakes: there were none. I really only read fantasy (I need my escapism to be so far removed from reality thanks), but I pre-ordered the (GORGEOUS) hard copy of this book at the 50% mark of my read. I need this on my shelf, displayed forever so I can yell at everyone who walks into my house just how badly they need to read it. I was not ready for it to end, for the characters to break my heart that way. It was beautiful, and awfully romantic. I have so many highlights I can’t wait to share.

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Utterly superb
This book deserves to be huge.
I know this isn't published until October 2024, but the hype was niggling at me and I bumped it up my TBR.
This book has everything you want in a good read. Drama, tears, a little romance, and strong, fabulous pacing throughout to make sure you never put it down.
I loved the characters- and even after finishing it a few days ago, they have lingered in my head. I just want my next book to be the same, and the book hangover isn't budging any time soon.

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Absolutely incredible read. I was hooked immediately by the summary alone, and then actually getting to read it... I couldn't put it down! I told myself I was going to stray from romance for a while because I was having a hard time finding books that didn't feel overdone, but this threw me right back into the swing of things.

Xishi and Fanli I will always love you...

Writing a more in-depth review closer to the release date (Trust me, it's in my planner. I cannot Wait to spill all my feelings about this book!!!) but this was the easiest 5 stars I've ever given. I fear nothing will come close to a book like A Song To Drown Rivers again, and I'll be fighting reading burnout trying to chase this feeling.

This was my very first Ann Liang book and I will absolutely be going back to read every single book she's written.

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I didn’t know what to expect going into this novel, but it was addicting and absolutely blew me away. This book has made me a lifelong fan of the author and now I must go immediately binge everything they have ever written.

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The tears won’t stop!! Gosh Ann Liang you better pay for my therapy🥲🥲

Full review will be posted near the publishing date (October 8, 2024)

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