Wicked Reads: FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS + Sweepstakes!

Want to get into the Halloween spirit and enter to win all NINE of this spooktacular reads?! All you have to do is check out my gushing review below of one of my favorite books I’ve read this year, A Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, and enter the sweepstakes below!

Wine Pairing

The richness of this Cherry Blossom Pinot Noir pairs perfectly with Dao’s vivid writing and the lush world she’s created in Forest of a Thousand Lanterns. The lavish and complex flavor is the perfect match for the Xifeng’s captivating character.

 *All wine recommendations are strictly for those of legal drinking age only.*

About the Book-9

33958230Title: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress)

Author: Julie C. Dao

Pub. Date: October 10, 2017

Publisher: Philomel Books

Pages: 363

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.


My Review


With its richly imagined world and wonderfully diabolic antihero, FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS is a haunting debut that readers won’t soon forget.

This novel is unlike anything I’ve ever read before and is certainly one of my favorite books I’ve read this year.

I adore a complex and unreliable main character, and Xifeng beautifully embodies those characteristics. Dao did such a wonderful job of showing Xifeng’s backstory, motivations, and human characteristics as well as the darkness lurking inside her. Xifeng might not always be a likable character, but she is an unfailingly fascinating one. Being inside her mind was such a darkly captivating experience, and I am just itching to find out what happens next in her story.

The world-building in this novel is quite frankly stunning. From the richly imagined legends and mythology to the lush setting, the world of a FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS is entirely immersive and an absolute joy to read about.

The plot of the story itself is very character-driven. This is truly a story of Xifeng’s transformation from a naive and driven girl to a darkly powerful young woman. While there are several jaw-dropping and intense moments in the story, it isn’t as action-packed as many YA fantasy novels. Instead we get to focus more on the political maneuverings and character/world development. While that does mean the plot moves more slowly, Dao’s writing is so decadent and provocative, I was absolutely addicted to it.

There are some beautiful and heart-pounding romance scenes in this novel. These make for some lovely scenes in the story, without overpowering the overall plot. They are a part of Xifeng’s character arc, but they are not the main motivation behind it, and I really appreciated that. Though Xifeng’s motivations were far from pure, it was wonderful to see a female protagonist pursuing her dreams and ambitions and prioritizing those above romance.

I was truly blown away by this story and by Xifeng herself. I would highly recommend this to any reader. This is such a unique story, and it truly stands out amongst the many YA fantasy novels I’ve read this year. I will most eagerly be anticipating the next book in the series.

About the Author


Julie Dao is a proud Vietnamese-American who was born in upstate New York, and then was raised amidst the autumn fields and sloping mountains of New England. She went to college to become a doctor, but (go figure) came out ready to pursue her passion of creative writing. She is greatly influenced by the work of Jane Austen, J.K. Rowling, Maggie Stiefvater, Jhumpa Lahiri, Neil Gaiman, and Laini Taylor. Julie lives in New England.


Can you survive these wicked reads? From ghosts to straight up monsters, eerie settings to exorcisms, there’s a plethora of books to read to get you in the Halloween spirit. Enter for a chance to win here!


Huge thank you to Penguin Teen for hosting this blog tour! Be sure to be on the lookout for all the creeptastic blog posts on this tour and don’t forget to enter the sweepstakes!

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8 thoughts on “Wicked Reads: FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS + Sweepstakes!

  1. bookprincessreviews says:

    Omigosh, this sounds FANTASTIC.I was on the fence about whether or not to hurry up and forget all the other books on my TBR to read this, and now I think I’m going to have to do it. It sounds SO pretty and interesting and I just want to read it now. Plus, that wine pairing is a KILLER. Wonderful review, Krysti! 😀


    • KrystiYAandWine says:

      Thanks so much, Mandy! Go into it expecting a slower pace and a really unique reading experience. I absolutely ADORED it…obviously. 😉 But I think it’s one you have to know what you’re signing up for to really appreciate it for what it is, if that makes sense…


  2. Sophie @ Blame Chocolate says:

    I love that you love antiheroes too! They make for such interesting and complex characters indeed 🙂
    I can’t wait to read this one! It’s been on my radar for the last couple of months and I’ve heard nothing but great things about it.
    Awesome review, Krysti!
    Also, cherry blossom wine? With red berries? Sounds yummy!


    • KrystiYAandWine says:

      I am absolutely obsessed with antiheroes! They are my favorite types of characters right now. 🙂 I hope you enjoy it if you do pick it up. I have to be honest and say that I haven’t been able to drink mind for a few months, because of medication, but I definitely look forward to trying this someday! 🙂


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