Channi was not born a monster, but when her younger sister Vanna is born, their father chooses to sacrifice Channi in Vanna's place to the Demon Witch in order to save their mother. Because Channi is not the child the Demon Witch wanted, she curses her with the face of a serpent, making her the exact opposite of her sister, a beauty unlike any other. Now Vanna is seventeen and chooses to be married off in a ridiculous contest that brings suitors from all over to vie for her hand. In an attempt to protect her sister, Channi draws too much attention to herself and gets thrust into a fight for her sister that she has prepared for her entire life.

Listen, when Elizabeth Lim announces a book, it immediately gets added to my TBR. I don’t make the rules, I just follow them.

Set in the same world as SIX CRIMSON CRANES, this story takes us on a journey with Channi, the young girl who grows up to become Shiori’s stepmother, Raikama. It was so much fun to see her as a young girl and what she went through in order to end up in Kiata. It is a beautiful prequel that puts into perspective Raikama’s actions in the duology while still being a complete enough story to work as a standalone.

While it was difficult at times for me to picture things described in the book, I don’t think this is a problem with Elizabeth’s writing as much as it is my imagination. She builds a breathtaking world full of creatures and people that are intriguing, both in their physical descriptions and their personalities. Each character that is introduced plays an important part in Channi’s journey, especially as it relates to her later shift into the persona of Raikama.

At the heart of this story is love - specifically, the love between sisters. The relationship between Channi and Vanna is fleshed out even as they spend a chunk of time apart from each other. The romance subplot lingers underneath, providing a depth to the story and leading to a gut punch that wraps the story in a beautifully heartbreaking way. The reader will leave this book feeling hope for Channi's future while also carrying a sense of dread, for both readers old and new to the beautiful world created by Elizabeth Lim.

HER RADIANT CURSE by Elizabeth Lim is available now and you can grab a copy here.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book for free and have voluntarily written this review. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link above, not only will I receive a small commission (which will fuel my coffee and tea addiction and help to keep me up all night reading more books to recommend to you), but you will also be supporting indie bookstores like my local fave Linden Tree Books without whom this review would not be possible! If you prefer Amazon, visit my Amazon storefront and click on the list titled "2023 Book Recommendations."