Forest of a Thousand Lanterns – Review

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns – Julie C Dao.


Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is a dark and powerfully compelling retelling of Snow White’s Evil Queen.

“Xifeng tilted her face, a pale moon in the evening of the water. She felt like a goddess in the shimmering light. She was a poem come to life, each vein was a lyric.”
― Julie C. Dao, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

Set in a beautifully structured far Eastern World this book follows the story of Xifeng, a young woman raised by an abusive aunt in a lowly village where she longs for something more – after all, her destiny is written in the cards and those cards depict greatness and absolute power.

Meek and subdued thanks to her rough upbringing, Xifeng’s character evolves and contorts as the story unfolds and her true nature becomes apparent slowly but surely.

“Only kings are arrogant enough to believe the world is too small to hold other men.”
― Julie C. Dao, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

Ambitious, ruthless and manipulative, Xifeng will do anything in order to fulfil the destiny that is written for her, to become Empress, at any cost.

This book is deliciously dark, immersive and unique. Xifeng is incredibly complex and despite cringing at many of her decisions I loved her, she is the perfect anti-heroine.

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns was a slow burn to start with – I wasn’t sure I was liking Xifeng’s jealousy and anger towards any woman she perceived as being more beautiful or privileged than she was.

“The beauty of this world is fading all too fast through the cruelty and thoughtlessness of men.”
― Julie C. Dao, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

Having being groomed by her aunt to believe that her beauty is all she has going for her, however, Xifeng’s feelings of resentment make sense. Luckily she realises she doesn’t need to listen to her aunt in order to fulfil her destiny and as time goes on Xifeng shows she is intelligent and unforgiving, no one can stop her from claiming what is hers.

It’s refreshing to read a story about a woman with such drive, who believes in love but seeks power above all else.

Xifeng is complex, selfish and unforgiving but I love her and this story surprised me by how much I enjoyed it.

Looking forward to seeing what comes next!


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