Review: A Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress, #1)


Anyone that knows me knows that fantasy books are sometimes hit or miss for me. I’m not the biggest fan of them but there are some that I am able to get through and enjoy. I was excited for this release but with so much hype around it, I felt more pressure to like it. I have to admit that I enjoyed it but I did have points where I struggled.

Short recap: Xifeng is a teenage girl raised by her aunt, Guma. Xifeng has not had an easy upbringing as a lot of pressure has been put on her by her aunt to “fulfill her destiny”. So much importance has been put on the importance of beauty and manners and being a proper lady so that is what Xifeng knows. She has to know this because she is destined to one day be Empress.

I have started to enjoy more stories set in Asia so the setting for this story was pleasant to read. Everything else about the story was not always so enjoyable for me to get through. Maybe I just had a hard time connecting with the MC, Xifeng, and the overall pacing of the story. Those were the two things (pretty big things, to be honest) that kept me from really liking this story. Here is my reason for not liking Xifeng so much: I didn’t understand her motivation for wanting to be in the palace so badly. All she had been told was that it was her “destiny” to be the Empress. Her aunt read this over and over again while reading Xifeng’s fortune in cards. Well.. ok, but being in the palace was her aunt’s dream, not her’s. Xifeng also had a love interest, Wei, that she easily left behind at the palace gates to fulfill her “destiny” or aunt’s dream (completely interchangeable here). I’m supposed to believe that Xifeng is able to turn off her own wants/wishes/desires that easily? She was supposed to be able to walk away from the one that she loved so much because someone told her it was her “destiny” to not be with him? Yeah, hard pass for me.

Now my reason for not liking the story… it was a rather slow paced story and the wait for something to actually happen was painful. This story took its sweet time getting to the point, which was about 60% of the book. In my opinion that is just whole lot of nothing going on. I did consider DNFing but chose to stay with it after the action/killing started. I started to enjoy Xifeng’s story a bit more as she made her climb through the ranks at the palace. Again, it was all because of the pushing of her aunt’s dream, not because she really wanted to.

In the end, I wanted to enjoy this more than I did. I wish there was more clarification on certain things but it was obvious that wasn’t going to happen. I was disappointed by the very long periods of time (chapters and chapters and chapter) with nothing happen but the descriptions of what the servants were wearing and the foods served. I am curious to know where the second book goes and how magic plays a part in all of it as I felt the first book was lacking a lot of magic.




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