Six Crimson Cranes

Listening Library. Jul. 2021. 1,254p. $75. ISBN 9780593398883.
Gr 7 Up–Princess Shiori is the youngest child and the only daughter of the emperor of Kiata; she is strong-willed and dotes on her six older brothers. She has always felt a little different than the others, though, for she has a forbidden magical power. When her stepmother, Raikama, discovers Shiori’s secret, she casts a spell that blocks Shiori’s power, makes her mute, and turns her brothers into cranes. The seven siblings are banished but vow to return, undo the curse, and take their rightful places by the throne. Narrator Emily Woo Zeller creates an immersive world that is a treat for listeners. She expressively voices Shiori in the first person, giving her a feisty personality, and differentiates the other characters distinctly. Raikama in particular is portrayed perfectly—sometimes cruel, sometimes sympathetic, but always darkly elegant. Kiki, a saucy paper bird Shiori has created, is performed with an impish high-pitched voice.
VERDICT With its combination of influences from Western fairy tales and East Asian folklore, this fast-paced audio is perfect for fantasy lovers, who will adore its fierce princess, mysterious stepmother, magic, charming romantic interest, adventure, and danger.

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