Channi is used to being a monster. Ever since her father tried to sacrifice her life as a child to save her mother, she has been cursed with the face and venomous blood of a snake. Her sister, Vanna, is her opposite - she is beautiful, radiant, and her heart glows with pure power. She was the one who should have been sacrificed, but her father couldn’t bear to lose her and tried to sacrifice Channi instead. Now, years later, Vanna is in the middle of a competition of suitors to determine the king who earns her hand, but Channi knows the curse is coming for them. For when she was cursed, the demon Angma swore to return by Vanna’s seventeenth birthday to take what was meant to be her’s - Vanna’s life and magic. Channi must find Angma first and kill her, before her sister is taken from her forever.
This book is incredible and powerful and sad, honestly. It’s important to note this book is a prequel to Six Crimson Cranes, but it is not necessary to read Six Crimson Cranes and its sequel beforehand. I am actually looking forward even more to reading it now because I want to continue past the ending of this book to see where the world goes and what happens to the characters I know and love.
With that being said, this book is an epic fantasy journey full of unforgettable characters and incredible mythology, but it’s not necessarily for the readers who prefer happy endings, like myself. Despite trying to guard my heart against the possibility of heartbreak, I definitely cried and felt the tragedy to my core. This isn’t the BEST fantasy I’ve ever read, but it definitely holds its own. If you’re wanting a fantasy with twists and turns, hopeful moments and bittersweet ones, and an ending that leaves you feeling a lot of different things, this one is for you.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
In "Serpent's Embrace," Elizabeth Lim delivers a captivating and emotionally charged fantasy that delves into the complexities of sisterhood, sacrifice, and the unyielding power of love. With a rich tapestry of folklore and mythology interwoven into the narrative, the author creates a world that is both enchanting and dark, leaving readers spellbound from beginning to end.
The story revolves around the transformative journey of Channi, who, after being cursed with a serpent's face, grapples with the harsh realities of being perceived as a monster. Her unwavering love for her sister, Vanna, serves as the driving force behind her resilience and determination to protect her from the ruthless suitors in the village. Lim masterfully crafts Channi's character, infusing her with strength, vulnerability, and a depth of emotion that resonates with readers on a profound level.
The intricate bond between the two sisters forms the heart of the narrative, adding layers of complexity and depth to the storyline. Through their unbreakable connection, the readers are drawn into a world of intricate alliances, heart-wrenching choices, and the enduring strength of familial ties. Lim's portrayal of sisterhood is both poignant and authentic, capturing the essence of sacrifice and unwavering devotion in the face of adversity.
With an exquisite blend of fantasy and folklore, "Serpent's Embrace" pays homage to classic tales while offering a fresh and innovative take on the genre. The author's skillful incorporation of elements from "The Selection" and "Ember in the Ashes," alongside nods to timeless stories like "Beauty and the Beast" and "Helen of Troy," adds a layer of depth and familiarity that enhances the overall reading experience.
While the narrative unfolds with captivating momentum and intricate world-building, there are moments where the pacing feels slightly rushed, diminishing the impact of certain pivotal scenes. However, this minor flaw is overshadowed by the author's masterful storytelling and the intricate web of relationships that drive the plot forward.
In "Serpent's Embrace," Elizabeth Lim presents a mesmerizing tale of resilience, sacrifice, and the enduring power of love. With its evocative prose, dynamic character development, and a richly detailed world, the novel stands as a testament to the author's storytelling prowess. Through the compelling narrative of Channi and Vanna, readers are invited to explore the profound depths of sisterhood and the relentless pursuit of hope in the face of adversity. "Serpent's Embrace" is a must-read for fans of fantasy, folklore, and stories that resonate long after the final pages.
I absolutely adored Elizabeth Lim's past works, and Her Radiant Curse did not disappoint. It follows the ultimate bond between sisters, Channi and Vanna against a cruel demon witch. I have read Six Crimson Cranes and found the parallels so enjoyable to read, but it is not mandatory to read it before this book. Overall, I think Lim creates an enchanting and immersive story that I cannot get enough of!
"Her Radiant Curse" follows Channi and Vanna, two sisters with intertwined fates that could lead to deadly consequences. When Channi was a child, her father sacrificed her to the Demon Witch and caused her to be cursed with a serpent's face. Her sister, Vanna, is the favored child of her father and stepmother, and the only person who doesn't see a monster when she looks at Channi. The sisters have an unbreakable bond - a bond that will be put to the test when cruel suitors, sworn enemies, and a deadly battle come into play.
Overall, I really enjoyed "Her Radiant Curse." I will say that I was unaware that this was a prequel to the "Six Crimson Cranes" duology - this had no bearing on my review or enjoyment of the story. I am curious to see how it will impact my understanding of Six Crimson Cranes when I read it since I now have some back story that most people didn't. I liked the relationship between Channi and Vanna, but sometimes would get very frustrated with Vanna as a person, and Channi's continued insistence on being the only one that could protect her. (Their father was also just an awful person). I loved the side character of Ukar - he was fantastic and brought some great depth to the relationship with Channi. I found the ending to be a bit all over the place, but I did look up how it plays into the SCC duology, so it makes sense. This wasn't my favorite, but it wasn't bad; a solid YA fantasy.
After reading the other two Six Crimson Crane stories I was more than hooked on this one. It was just what I was looking for. Epic!! This was epic and if you enjoyed her other stories you will devour this one.
“A promise is not a kiss in the wind, to be thrown about without care. It is a piece of yourself that is given away and will not return until your pledge is fulfilled.”
Elizabeth Lim has done it again with a FANTASTIC YA fantasy novel. Her Radiant Curse is a spin-off prequel to Six Crimson Cranes duology. While this is a prequel, you absolutely need to read the Six Crimson Cranes duology FIRST. There are a lot of connections to things that happen within that series, both plot wise and character wise, so if you read this first you'll either be confused or spoil that duology.
Honestly, this book was so brilliantly done and was simultaneously heart-warming and heart-wrenching. I loved being back in the world of the Cranes and getting to expand upon everything that happened in that series! Her Radiant Curse is set a few decades before the events that happen in Six Crimson Cranes and it tells the story of Channi, the stepmother in Six Crimson Cranes, and what happened in her life that led to the events within Cranes.
Channi (who goes by Raikama in SCC) was such a fascinating character in the original series and I loved that we got to know more of her back story in The Dragon's Promise. Having a full length novel that provides the story of Channi and her sister Vanna? SIGN ME UP.
Their story was so so moving and speaks to the loyalty and bond between sisters. Channi would do whatever it took to protect her baby sister, as she has been doing since her birth. When her sister was born and her mother lay dying in childbirth, their father tried to sacrifice Channi to the Demon Tiger, Angma, to save them, only it didn't work and Channi was cursed and told by the tiger that on her sister's 17th birthday, Angma would come back for her. Having survived her encounter with the demon thanks to the poisonous bite from a snake, Channi's life has now changed: she now has a serpent face and poisoned blood. Upon her return home, she makes a promise to her dying mother that she would protect her sister from Angma, and spends the rest of the book doing her best to fulfill that promise.
While Channi was the villain (ish) in SCC, we learn SO much about how she became that person and how much more there is to her. We also understand her connection to snakes in SCC, as they become her constant companion and only friends after the curse causes everyone around her (minus her sister) to be afraid of the girl with the serpent face. She begins to live a life of isolation, ridicule, and hate, and is bullied by others in her village. It isn't until she meets the dragon Hokzuh that she finally feels like there is someone who understands her (unfortunately, they may or may not be enemies, but who doesn't love the enemies to (YA) lovers trope?).
Lim does such a great job in her story telling. I found this book to be well paced, eventful, and engaging throughout. The world building was fresh, while including a lot of what we'd seen previously and adding on to that. There were so many fun new characters we met, along with some who we will get to know more in the duology! Ukar was hands down my favorite. The animal companions are ALWAYS a favorite of mine.
I love how much Asian mythology and lore is woven into Lim's stories, and Her Radiant Curse doesn't disappoint in this area. She writes in a way that is easy to understand and fast paced, while still including plenty of detail to keep the reader engaged. The magic interwoven into her series is perfection.
This story added so much depth to the Cranes world, and I'm so happy that we have Channi's backstory! I won't lie, I had been a little disappointed in The Dragon's Promise after how much I enjoyed SCC, but this was probably my favorite out of all of them! I wouldn't mind another story after this one that tells the early years of Channi once she becomes Shiori's step-mother!
If you read and enjoyed Six Crimson Cranes, I highly suggest reading Her Radiant Curse. What a superb addition to this story and a wonderful story of the bond between sisters and how far they'll go to take care of the other.
Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Love love love this one. I love the story and getting to read about different cultures is soo fascinating to me. Super excited for the next one.
A YA story with lots of adventure. Channi was offered for sacrifice by her father instead of her baby sister, Vanna, to try and save her mother. The witch cursed Channi with a reptile face. Channi spends her life protecting Vanna, aware of the need to ‘save’ her even at the cost of her own life. An enjoyable tale that I recommend.
Reading the prequel to Six Crimson Cranes felt like reading a familiar fairytale - there was a magical sense of wonder seeing the story unfold and I loved being reunited with characters and getting the chance to explore their backstory. This is a wonderful example of an origin story that fleshes out what readers know from the duology, adding on and expanding that backstory and adding something new while keeping a sense of familiarity that ties the readers to the characters' journey!
With Her Radiant Curse, Lim continues to showcase what an enchanting storyteller she is. Channi's origin story unfolds like a fairytale. The descriptions, which have always been one of my favorite parts of her novels, are lush and vivid. While the plot moves quickly, the middle seemed to lull, dragging despite so much happening.
Knowing Channi's fate made me hyper-aware of everything happening to her and around her. While I liked it, I was also somewhat disappointed by my lack of emotional connection to the story. I knew there were moments I should be sad and wanted to be sad, yet many things that befell Channi were not successful in making me feel this way. Part of this was also due to the sisterly connection felt surface level as compared to Channi's relationship with Ukar, her best friend.
Her Radiant Curse is a good read. I liked it but my expectations likely affected my overall view of the novel. I still recommend this one. If you liked SCC, her Radiant Curse is a must-read. (3.5 stars rounded to 4 stars)
This was such a lovely story. I really didn't know too much about the story before I began reading, so I did not have many expectations. I enjoyed getting the know the main character and reading about the prophecies and histories in this story. The ending was very unexpected, but it was a wonderful conclusion. Thank you so much to Netgalley for giving me the free e-book for review!
"Find the light that makes your lantern shine. Hold on to it, even when the dark surrounds you. Not even the strongest wind will blow out the flame."
My heart hurts. Just as it always does with tales as vivid as this.
Elizabeth Lim is a master weaver. Her stories are intricate and the portraits she paints of characters, settings and mythology are striking. Each time I open her books I'm prepared to be immersed in a world full of color, life and fantasy.
Knowing Her Radiant Curse was a somewhat standalone prequel to the Six Crimson Cranes duology only made me more intrigued. Like I mentioned in my review for the first book, I grew up with the Hans Christian Andersen tale The Wild Song and fell absolutely in love with the way Elizabeth Lim transformed the story and immersed the tale with myth, legend and folklore. I expected and received the exact same for Her Radiant Curse and I am equally as in love.
The characters in this book are so vivid that I want to re-read the duology just to see how they're transformed in someone else's story now that I've seen their own through their eyes. I want to dive right back into the land of Kiata and the fantastical experience portrayed within those pages. At it's core, I think these three tales are that of the powerful bond between siblings, and the unbreakable love that you have for them, that is so different than any other kind of love anyone can experience.
"All the riches and power in the world cannot buy someone who loves you truly. That’s the greatest treasure."
Her Radiant Curse was published on August 29, 2023. My greatest thanks to Random House Children's, Knopf Books for Young Readers, NetGalley and the author for the digital arc. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
I received this as an e-arc from NetGalley. (Thank you, NetGalley.)
For readers of the series, this is a prequel of Six Crimson Cranes, starring the villain of the series. We are reading her origin story. Lim's style is much the same, so if you enjoy these elements-- great: vivid world building, a protagonist feeling frustrated at home eventually going on a dangerous journey, a companion creature (always a creature with a sassy voice), and a love interest that comes and goes. It was certainly interesting to hear from a character who has always been reviled.
I liked this book just fine but knowing that things were following formula allowed me to put the book down for long stretches of time. If you're comforted by predictable (and I'm not knocking it), then this is safe. Some people enjoy structures they recognize because it reduces anxiety. This would work for that. I kept reading this book when I only had my phone on me and I was waiting somewhere. I was perfectly content to read it when I needed something to read.
Elizabeth Lim does it again! I absolutely loved her Six Crimson Cranes and this is even better! This story is in the same realm but much earlier in the past. I loved the sisterly love and the sharing of Asian Folklore. I will definitely recommend!
Stunning fantasy. As a young child, Channi is cursed with the face of a snake by the Demon Witch. The curse can only be broken by the sacrifice of of her beautiful younger sister, Vanna, by her seventeenth birthday. But the bonds of sisterhood are stronger than any curse. Channi loves Vanna, the only one who truly sees her, and she will do anything to keep her sister safe. Thus begins Her Radiant Curse.
I absolutely adored this story. The world is beautiful. I love the combination of mythologies, spinning together a unique and engaging story. At its heart, this is about the bonds of sisterhood, and I felt so connected to the relationship between Channi and Vanna. It's great to watch both sisters come into their strengths. I also loved Ukar, who adds some light into the darker moments. The romance was a nice side element, though so much less important than the sisterly bond. I could not put this one down, and definitely cried like a baby at the ending. Though this is a prequel to the Six Crimson Cranes duology, (which I have not read yet) I had no trouble falling into the story. Would 100% recommend.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
thank you SO MUCH to penguin teen/knopf books for young readers and netgalley for this amazing book in return for my honest review!
everyone, elizabeth lim has DONE IT AGAIN this woman… y’all this woman does not miss! i finally finished this book and it took me a while bc ya girl was goin thru it 😔🤘🏼but it was SO worth reading.
i will admit, i feel the need to now reread the six crimson cranes duology so i can refresh my memory on what happens after this book ends. i remember loving it so much so i might just do that after all, i have nothing to lose.
this book was, i kid you not, the perfect prequel to the SCC duology. we get to learn all about raikama, or channari as we know her. we learn why she is the way she is and what she has been through, which since SCC i’ve been so curious about. i’m in love with her character and her drive to protect her sister. it would’ve been so easy for her to resent vanna for the fact that her father clearly preferred her but she so fiercely protected and loved her that you couldn’t help but feel attached to her journey.
i loved channi’s relationship with those around her, like hokzuh. she goes from hating him, to reluctantly accepting him as an ally, to calling him a friend and maybe a bit more. we also see that, despite everything she’s been through, she’s still an ultimately sweet and kind person to those who deserve it. we eventually see that she loves kids, especially young ones, because if they grow up with her they don’t judge her for her appearance.
one of the lines that stuck with me was one directed at her father, and it was “never will i apologize for being the monster they made me” and just UGH ITS SO GOOD. it just hits different. thinking about it now, the whole last fifteen percent or so was just pure pain. i was crying so hard. i tried not to, and at first it was just a tear or two but eventually i was ugly crying so hard my service dog came to check to make sure i was okay. but i’m also a huge crybaby so take that as you will.
all in all, fantastic book, i loved it. now to go reread everything elizabeth lim has ever written
I didn't realize this was a prequel to Six Crimson Cranes. Because of this, I wasn't prepared for that ending. I disagree that this is a standalone. I think those who've read Six Crimson Cranes will have a better idea of what they're getting into and a better appreciation of the references.
Even if that were not the case though, this book would not have been for me. It took 1/3 of the book to get through the inciting incident. Key facts changed from page to page. It was hard to picture what the characters looked like or were doing. Sometimes characters would seem to teleport or be doing two things at once.
But the main issue I took with this story? It seems to push the message that self-mutilation can set a person free. And that's a dangerous message to give people.
Thank you to Random House Children's and NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC!
I love Elizabeth Lim's writing - her worlds are beautiful, her characters complex, and her plots captivating. Her writing is easy to fall into, making for fast reads but great quality. The Six Crimson Cranes duology was one of my favorite reads of 2022 and I was so thrilled to love Her Radiant Curse just as much!
This story fit so perfectly into the world - I loved making the connections from the original duology and gaining a new depth of understanding into Channi and her story; why she was the way she was and why things ended up how they did. It just....the book would be wonderful and enjoyable on its own I have no doubt, but it added such beauty to it having the other plot to compare.
This was such a great installment to the world and it gave a real sense of closure and satisfaction. I highly recommend to everyone, though definitely recommend reading the Six Crimson Cranes duology first!
I love this series SO MUCH. I was so happy to see it continue and to get the step mother's backstory. However, knowing how it all ends has made it so much harder so finish. The writing is so lovely but the story is so sad and slow at the beginning its been very hard to focus and finish.
I think if they're read in story line order and not publish order it'll be better for all.
Channi was cursed as a child for her father's actions. He tried to sacrifice her in order to save his wife after the birth of a shining baby girl, but the being she was sacrificed to wanted the baby, not Channi. So she's grown up with the face of a snake and only snakes as her friends while her dad abuses her and keeps her hidden from those who have started to worship her younger sister. Channi should at least resent Vanna, but she loves her sister with all her heart and would do anything to help her.
I get that the inner glow in Vanna makes everyone fall in love with her, but she's really not much of a character and I never got much of a sense of her character. All she's ever described as or acts on is 'good' and that's honestly boring.
Everything that happens, good and bad, happens because Channi is willing to sacrifice it all for Vanna. Even the very interesting semi-antagonist never gets top billing because it's all about the shining sister with not much of a personality.
So it's an interesting read and there were moments that I was glued to the page, but I really wish that Lim had given the linchpin on whom the entire plot depends more of a personality than just being magically shining and good. Mainly because I really, really liked Channi and felt like she deserved someone better to be inspired by.
A very excited thanks to NetGalley and Knopf Books for Young Readers for the excellent read!