Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Release Date: October 10, 2017
Publisher: Philomel Books
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy
An epic YA fantasy for fans of Stealing Snow and Snow White and the Huntsman. Set in the mystical Far East, this reimagining of The Evil Queen legend is about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress—and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.
Eighteen-year-old Xifeng (pronounced She-fung) is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her.
Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of greatness too high? To claim her place beside the Emperor, Xifeng must cast aside Wei, the young man who has longed to marry her since childhood. And darker still, she will have to embrace the callous magic that runs through her veins—magic fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed—for the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is complete.
Set in an East Asian-inspired fantasy world filled with both breathtaking pain and beauty, FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS possesses all the hallmarks of masterful fantasy—dazzling magic, heartbreaking romance, and a world that hangs in the balance.
Julie C. Dao's Rise of the Empress is a re-imagining of the evil queen legend from Snow White, unearthing the original works’ themes of vanity, ambition, and power in a gripping story all its own. Having been told her whole life that she is beautiful and one day she will become Empress by her overbearing & abusive aunt Guma, Xifeng seizes on her opportunity to run away with her love, Wei, to the Imperial City where she hopes to fulfill her destiny and become the next Empress.
"She touched her face. 'This is how a woman plays the game. It makes men weak and forget they make the rules. She becomes the player and they the pawns.'"
One shouldn't feel one bit of sorrow for Xifeng. She's a ruthless, vicious protagonist willing to claw her way to the throne leaving bodies behind in her wake. Xifeng knows that her beauty can't be tamed or surpassed by anyone. It is the one thing that she has over all of her so called competition. Between the current empress, consorts, concubines, and even the gossiping eunuchs, she shows no hesitation at stepping over as many bodies as it takes to become what her cards have told her she is fated to become.
Dao has created a fantasy world featuring East Asian influences, particularly Chinese mythology, that is both beautiful and terrifying at every turn. This is no happily-ever-after story—instead, the book explores the power of love, but also those who choose to spurn romance because they see it as a burdensome weakness. The notion of beauty is explored in all its glory and ugliness—the ways in which beauty empowers the beautiful, the envy and scorn directed at them, and the corruptive effect it can have on one’s ego. From Adelina in Marie Lu’s The Young Elites to Eli and Victor in V.E. Schwab’s Vicious, Xifeng is the latest in a long, beloved line of brilliantly-constructed, morally-complex antiheroes.