Review: THE DRAGON’S PROMISE by Elizabeth Lim

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 496
Release Date: August 30th, 2022
Series: SIX CRIMSON CRANES, Book 2
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars – Liked It!

Warning: Possible light spoilers ahead for earlier books in the series. You can read reviews for those books here: SIX CRIMSON CRANES

The Dragon's Promise

The curse on Shiori and her brothers may be broken, but Shiori can’t rest quite yet. She has promised to return a cracked and corrupted dragon’s pearl to its original owner in the hopes that it can be mended, and an emotional wound healed. Shiori’s task won’t be easy though. A dragon’s pearl is an object of great magical power, and many covet it for themselves, from demons to other dragons. And to make matters worse, a rift in Shiori’s homeland threatens to release a dark power into the land unless Shiori can find a way to seal it.

THE DRAGON’S PROMISE is a solid follow-up to SIX CRIMSON CRANES, though it falls short of the lofty bar set by its predecessor. SIX CRIMSON CRANES was an exceptional book elevated by the captivating premise of a heroine who couldn’t speak, but who wasn’t going to idly sit by and wait for someone else to save the day. Shiori is no less active in the sequel, but the plot in THE DRAGON’S PROMISE felt a bit more repetitive and unfocused.

I was a bit surprised, for instance, that the time in the dragon’s court took up barely 25% of the plot. And that’s a shame, because the world the author paints is stunning and was easily my favorite part of the book. The dragons live undersea, so there was a lot of dark mermaid-type imagery and the uniqueness of navigating a world where movement was akin to flying. I easily could have spent the entire book in this setting.

That was not meant to be, as Shiori flits all over Kiata in her bid to honor her promise, while also juggling unrest at her father’s court and a magical disaster looming over the kingdom. It left things feeling a bit scattered as she bounced from one problem to the next. I didn’t hate the plot so much as I wished that maybe one storyline had been excised so that the others had time to breathe.

Thankfully, the characters of the series remain a delight, from steadfast Takkan to cheeky Kiki, and of course Shirori herself, the princess who will do what’s right and damn the consequences. There was a heartfelt thread of Shirori trying to understand her stepmother Raikama and why she cursed her family to begin with. It lended a bittersweet theme to the story of wishing you had known someone better while you had the chance, and was a welcome thread.

Lastly, a quick shoutout to the realization that this duology is a prequel to the author’s other duology, SPIN THE DAWN. While I had gathered the two series were set in the same world, it hadn’t fully clicked the ways in which the plots were connected. You do not REMOTELY need to have read SPIN THE DAWN to enjoy SIX CRIMSON CRANES, but it was fun to realize you were witnessing a certain event that had been mentioned in the first duology.

THE DRAGON’S PROMISE is an adventurous conclusion to the SIX CRIMSON CRANES duology that will mostly satisfy readers. Issues I had with it aside, I still cried at the beautiful ending and was glad to see the continued growth of Shiori and Takkan’s relationship. It may be a bit scattered in places, but THE DRAGON’S PROMISE does a wonderful job of paying off the characters you fell in love with in the first book and giving them a heart-felt sendoff.

Note: I was provided a free ARC by the publisher in exchange for my fair and honest review.

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