Song of the Crimson Flower

Julie C. Dao. Philomel, $18.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-5247-3835-8
Tam Huynh never visits his betrothed, Lan Vu, and won’t set a wedding date. Lan maintains that Tam is just shy and prefers to show his devotion with nightly serenades. In truth, the songs come courtesy of an orphaned physician’s apprentice, Bao, who lives with the wealthy Huynhs. When Bao confesses, it shatters Lan, who dismisses him as a peasant. Bao then seeks out a river witch to erase his memories so that he might more easily “start a new life far away,” but instead, she curses him to spend eternity inside his flute, unless he can find love before the full moon. A remorseful Lan finds the instrument, temporarily frees Bao, and joins him on a perilous quest to reverse the witch’s spell. Dao’s latest fuses beats of Cyrano de Bergerac with elements from her Rise of the Empress duology to create an East Asian–influenced tale of love, greed, politics, addiction, and found family. The plot is slight, and the bulk of the conflict comes late, but nuanced characters and tender romance buoy the book to a gratifying conclusion. Ages 12–up. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 09/26/2019
Release date: 11/05/2019
Genre: Children's
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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