As the only princess of Kiata, it is Shiori’s duty to marry. On the eve of her betrothal, she drowns trying to save her paper bird and friend Kiki. Kiki shouldn’t exist, yet somehow she does. Shiori brought her to life with her natural magic, magic that is forbidden in Kiata. I love Kiki. She is high-spirited and feisty, bringing levity to the story. But I digress, Shiori is saved from drowning by a young dragon Seryu, the grandson of the Dragon King. Seryu is another interesting character. He pushes Shiori out of her comfort zone, teaching her to wield her magic to make her less dangerous.
When an accident leads Shiori to discover her stepmother’s hidden magic, she seeks her six older brothers’ help. Instead what happens is that Raikama is able to curse them all. Shiori is cursed to wear a bowl on her head and told that for every sound that escapes her mouth, one of her brothers will die. Her brothers are also cursed to live as swans during the day and men at night. A glamour is placed over them so that none will recognize the emperor’s children, and they are scattered.
This is where Shiori’s story truly begins. I love Shiori. She’s strong, courageous, and at times brash. She’s bold in her convictions, loyal to her family, and loves with her whole heart. Despite all these things, she’s immature and speaks before thinking, hurting people without ever realizing it. Shiori’s curse changes so much about her. The somewhat spoiled princess doesn’t have a dime to her name, and with her glamour, no one will even offer to help. I love how Shiori works through each of her problems, overcoming them and becoming stronger because of her circumstances instead of letting them break her.
Then there is Takkan. He is Shiori’s betrothed, shunned by her when she ran from their ceremony. Despite that, he risks his life to search for the royal children who have gone missing. His loyalty is just one of the many reasons I fell in love with him. He is kind above all else. He shows favor to those less fortunate than him, and he does it all with a smile. His goodness is shown through all the little interactions he has with Shiori, even when he doesn’t know her identity.
Overall I loved Six Crimson Cranes. The complexity of the plot and the gorgeously flawed characters kept me engaged with the story long after it ended. I cannot wait to read the next installment and find out more about Shiori, Takkan, and her brothers. If you are a fan of fairy tales, this one should be high on your list of books to read.