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From the acclaimed author of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns comes a fantastical new tale of darkness and love…

Will love break the spell? After cruelly rejecting Bao, the poor physician’s apprentice who loves her, Lan, a wealthy nobleman’s daughter, regrets her actions. So when she finds Bao’s prized flute floating in his boat near her house, she takes it into her care, not knowing that his soul has been trapped inside it by an evil witch, who cursed Bao, telling him that only love will set him free. Though Bao now despises her, Lan vows to make amends and help break the spell.

Together, the two travel across the continent, finding themselves in the presence of greatness in the forms of the Great Forest’s Empress Jade and Commander Wei. They journey with Wei, getting tangled in the webs of war, blood magic, and romance along the way. Will Lan and Bao being to break the spell that’s been placed upon them? Or will they be doomed to live out their lives with black magic running through their veins?

In this fantastical tale of darkness and love, some magical bonds are stronger than blood.

Purchase here

Other Books in the Series

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for song of 
the crimson flower

A Fall 2019 Junior Library Guild Selection

November 2019 Book of the Month Club’s Main Selection

A Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of the Year

“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. Nuanced characters and tender romance buoy the book to a gratifying conclusion.”

Publishers Weekly

“This title is an enjoyable, accessible read. It hits all the notes for a romantic fantasy that is enjoyable and appropriate for both younger and older readers… This is a recommended purchase because of the setting and the suitability for younger readers.”


“Julie C. Dao weaves her Vietnamese-inspired folklore and imagery into a fresh, captivating fantasy that is a companion to her Forest of a Thousand Lanterns duology. Her heroes wrestle with family, class and uncontrolled power while finding ways to muster the strength it takes to do the right thing. At its heart, Song of the Crimson Flower is a magical love story. ”

Lynn Becker, SCBWI Book Talk / Shelf Awareness

“Lan and Bao’s story is a stand-alone tale, but fans of the Rise of the Empress duology will appreciate the entourage meeting up once again with Commander Wei, Wren, Jade, and Koichi.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Powered by quiet, satisfying prose and a sense of magic and wonder, this will appeal to lovers of fairy-tale retellings and new fantasy worlds.”

School Library Journal

“An enchanting combination of gripping adventure and sweet romance… The story maintains all the hallmarks of familiar fairy tales, making this novel the perfect choice for readers who love a fairy tale fantasy but are looking to move past conventional Western fare.

Bulletin of the Center For Children’s Books

“An intriguing Vietnamese twist on Beauty and the Beast.”

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buzz for song of the crimson flower

* Fall 2019 Children’s Announcements: Publishers M-Q (Publishers Weekly)

* Tune In: Julie C. Dao’s Playlist for Song of the Crimson Flower (Bookish HQ)

* Fall 2019’s Most-Anticipated Young Adult Sci-Fi & Fantasy (Bookish HQ)

* 37 Young Adult Fantasy Novels You Can’t Miss in the Second Half of 2019 (Epic Reads)

* Magic Pies, Haunted Woods, and Daring Revolutionaries in This Season’s Young Adult SFF (

* 19 Highly-Anticipated YA Books to Read in Fall 2019 (Brightly)

* All the New Young Adult SFF Books Coming Out in November! (Tor)

* Fall 2019 TV, movie, books release dates you can’t afford to miss (Hypable)

* 19 Really Great YA Books You’ll Want To Pick Up This Fall (Buzzfeed)

* HOT OFF THE PRESS: NOVEMBER 2019 (Pop! Goes the Reader)

* Love YA: Top 3 Y.A. Reads for the Week of November 5th! (Frolic Media)

* There Are Tons of New Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books to Keep You Cozy in November (Gizmodo)

* Julie C. Dao on Music, Fairy Tales, and Song of the Crimson Flower (Bookish)

* Julie C. Dao on Fairy Tales, Romance, and Her Latest YA Novel (We Need Diverse Books)

* New Releases: Forbidden Magic, Unsolved Mysteries, and Vengeful Journeys (Barnes and Noble)

* A Clash of Love and Magic: Song of the Crimson Flower by Julie C. Dao (Tor)

* YA Review: Song of the Crimson Flower (Shelf Awareness)

* What’s Up In YA (Book Riot)

* Book of the Month YA November 2019 Selection Time (Hello Subscription)

* The Lookout: Asian Americans in Media (Character Media)

* New Releases (Rich in Color)

* 25 of the Best YAs of November (Barnes and Noble)

* Must-Read YA Books Coming Out In November 2019 (United By Pop)

* November 2019 Fantasy + Sci-Fi Book Releases (The Nerd Daily)


* The Best Young Adult Novels of November 2019 (Paste Magazine)

* The spellbinding worlds of ‘Winterwood’ and ‘Song of the Crimson Flower’ (Hypable)

* 16 of the Best Young Adult Books Flying Off the Shelves This Holiday Season (PureWow)

* 15 Books to Gift, According to Author Rebecca Kim Wells (We Need Diverse Books)

* The 10 best standalone YA fantasy novels of 2019 (Hypable)

* THE SILVER PETTICOAT REVIEW’S 25 BEST YA NOVELS OF 2019 (The Silver Petticoat Review)

* Patrice Caldwell Recommends (Booklist)

* 2019 Locus Recommended Reading List (Locus Magazine)

* 17 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Books To Lose Yourself In During Self-Quarantine (Buzzfeed Books)


* 5 Young Adult SFF Spin-Offs to Keep on Your Radar (Tor)

* 25 All-Time Best Book Series for Teens (Readers Digest)


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