The front cover for Her Radiant Curse by Elizabeth Lim. The cover centres on a young woman in a light green trouser suit in the middle of a forest clearing. She has long hair tied in a plait that goes past her waist. Her head is turned to the left and there is a pale green snake coming out of the forest trees towards her. Behind her is a tiger. The page is bordered by pink flowers around the top and yellow ones at the bottom. In the distance are some houses,

Her Radiant Curse

Her Radiant Curse by Elizabeth Lim from @hodderscape #BookReview #Fantasy

Her Radiant Curse by Elizabeth Lim

Hodderscape, pb, £12.02

Reviewed by Mikaela Silk

The front cover for Her Radiant Curse by Elizabeth Lim. The cover centres on a young woman in a light green trouser suit in the middle of a forest clearing. She has long hair tied in a plait that goes past her waist. Her head is turned to the left and there is a pale green snake coming out of the forest trees towards her. Behind her is a tiger. The page is bordered by pink flowers around the top and yellow ones at the bottom. In the distance are some houses,

This book is the prequel to Six Crimson Cranes and The Dragon’s Promise, although it can easily be read as a standalone. It does give some spoilers for the other two books.

Channi lost both her mother and her face the day her sister, Vanna, was born. Despite this, she loves her sister more than her own life and will do anything to protect her. Unfortunately, with the beauty to rival a goddess and an internal light that glows outwards, Vanna needs a lot of protection. Their father is only interested in how much men, ideally kings and princes, will be willing to pay for Vanna’s hand in marriage. Vanna’s suitors are only interested in her looks. And then there is the demon, Angma, whose interest in Vanna stems from something much more sinister.

Some details of Channi’s life are given in Six Crimson Cranes and in The Dragon’s Promise, and they were really intriguing, so I’m glad Elizabeth Lim decided to explore this in more depth. As usual, she has created a cast of wonderfully unique characters and thrown them into a vibrant and chaotic plot. I don’t think I’ve ever loved a snake more! Even side characters had their own distinct personalities and were written in a way that hinted at a hidden depth. A great example of this is the sisters’ stepmother; she sends Channi out of the house when a particularly vile suitor visits and the sisters joke about her loving her house more than her husband. The tone of these exchanges shows the love and pride she has for her family. Yet Channi herself never seems to recognise this, seeing only the negative aspects of her stepmother instead; I love how this foreshadows her relationship with her own stepdaughter in the Six Crimson Cranes.

Multiple small plot twists, aided by unpredictable magic and even more unpredictable characters, take this book from engaging to absorbing. Even knowing how it would end, I often found it difficult to see the path to get there. In my opinion, this is a sign of true craftsmanship and makes for an un-put-down-able read.

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