Book Thoughts

Reading: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns Book Cover Forest of a Thousand Lanterns
Julie C. Dao
Young Adult Fiction
Penguin
October 10, 2017
384

I love a good villain story, and this is an Asian inspired retelling of how Snow White's evil queen came to be. Xifeng has a destiny written in the cards, but it's up to her whether she wants to chase power or love, and how much she's willing to sacrifice for what she wants.

The story is beautifully written, but like most fairy tales it has a dark underbelly: Xifeng's abusive home and manipulative mother. Xifeng's fear of being controlled. The silken perils of the Emperor's court. I admired how Xifeng's choices sometimes felt inconsequential, but every small choice propelled her along one of her two possible destinies.

The book reminded me of the Chinese historical dramas I watched growing up, rife with beauty and court intrigue. And it also brought up some complicated feelings from my own life, about Asian culture and family expectations, about worth, about what constitutes beauty. I'm still mulling it over - and I believe that's the function of all good stories. It connects somehow, and makes you think.

Xifeng's story reminds me how easy it would be to be the villain. Just one choice could change the path we walk forever. Or maybe, some of us are already the villain in other people's tales...

2 Comments

  1. “how easy it would be to be the villain. Just one choice could change the path we walk forever. Or maybe, some of us are already the villain in other people’s tales…”

    I think about that a lot too.

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