Book Review: Kingdom Of The Blazing Phoenix by Julie C Dao

Book: Kingdom Of The Blazing Phoenix by Julie C Dao

Published November 2018 by Philomel Books|356 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: Rise Of The Empress #2

Genre: YA Fantasy/Fairy Tale Re-telling

This fairy tale retelling lives in a mystical world inspired by the Far East, where the Dragon Lord and the Serpent God battle for control of the earthly realm; it is here that the flawed heroine of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns finally meets her match. An epic fantasy finale to the Rise of the Empress novels.

Princess Jade has grown up in exile, hidden away in a monastery while her stepmother, the ruthless Xifeng, rules as Empress of Feng Lu. But the empire is in distress and its people are sinking into poverty and despair. Even though Jade doesn’t want the crown, she knows she is the only one who can dethrone the Empress and set the world right. Ready to reclaim her place as rightful heir, Jade embarks on a quest to raise the Dragon Lords and defeat Xifeng and the Serpent God once and for all. But will the same darkness that took Xifeng take Jade, too? Or will she find the strength within to save herself, her friends, and her empire?

Set in an East Asian-inspired fantasy world filled with breathtaking pain and beauty, Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix is filled with dazzling magic, powerful prose, and characters readers won’t soon forget.

Fans of Stealing Snow, Red Queen, and The Wrath and the Dawn will hungrily devour this page-turning read.

I liked Kingdom Of The Blazing Phoenix but not as much as I thought I would!

I really wanted to like this one more than I did.  I LOVED Forest Of A Thousand Lanterns, which was a great Evil Queen origin story, but this follow up didn’t interest me as much.

I mean, I liked Jade.  She definitely had to get her kingdom back from Xifeng, and she went on quite the quest to do it.  This book is set over a decade after Forest, and it was interesting to see how much Xifeng changed.  Especially when we came across people who knew her as she made her way to being Empress of Feng Lu.  I know it put it out of the realm of YA, but I really want to know what happened in Xifeng’s life between the end of the first book and the start of this one.  You get little bits and pieces, of course, but I wanted more.  I really did like Xifeng’s story.

I felt for Jade, and she had a lot going on.  It seems like things will change in Feng Lu, and for the better.  It seems like it will take a while but I feel like they’ll get there eventually.  She wasn’t my favorite character, but she definitely came into her own by the end of the book.  She had a lot of support, even if she came across people who didn’t want to give her support.  Some seemed hesitant, especially at first, but I also felt like they eventually knew it was the right choice for the kingdom.

It’s just…Jade didn’t interest me as much as Xifeng.  She was so good that it was sometimes annoying and mostly boring, and she didn’t seem as complex as Xifeng.  Gone are the court politics and people doing these crazy things to get what they want.

Actually, I kind of take that last part back.  Jade is a somewhat unwilling Empress but she does do what she needs to for the sake of Feng Lu.  It’s just a very different story of than what Xifeng does to get what she wants.

This is more of a Snow White re-telling, and I think it stands on its own pretty well.  While you don’t need to read the first book to know what’s going on in this book, it is also a wonderful book, and it definitely gives you more backstory on Xifeng, and why she does what she does.  It’s not that hard to figure out, especially if you’re at all familiar with the Snow White story, but it really is a good starting point to this story.

It was slow at times, though there are little pockets of action and excitement.  This is a journey novel after all.  I just wasn’t super-excited about the journey, though I did like some of the characters we come across.

3 stars.  Overall, I liked this book, but Jade, for me, wasn’t as interesting as Xifeng.

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