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Reviews of Song of the Six Realms by Judy Lin

Song of the Six Realms

by Judy I. Lin

Song of the Six Realms by Judy I. Lin X
Song of the Six Realms by Judy I. Lin
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  • Published:
    Apr 2024, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Sara Fiore
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About this Book

Book Summary

Judy I. Lin, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Magic Steeped in Poison, weaves a dreamy gothic romance worthy of the heavens in Song of the Six Realms.

Xue, a talented young musician, has no past and probably no future. Orphaned at a young age, her kindly poet uncle took her in and arranged for an apprenticeship at one of the most esteemed entertainment houses in the kingdom. She doesn't remember much from before entering the House of Flowing Water, and when her uncle is suddenly killed in a bandit attack, she is devastated to lose her last connection to a life outside of her indenture contract.

With no family and no patron, Xue is facing the possibility of a lifetime of servitude playing the qin for nobles that praise her talent with one breath and sneer at her lowly social status with the next. Then one night she is unexpectedly called to the garden to put on a private performance for the enigmatic Duke Meng. For a young man of nobility, he is strangely kind and awkward, and surprises Xue further with an irresistible offer: serve as a musician in residence at his manor for one year, and he'll set her free of her indenture.

But the Duke's motives become increasingly more suspect when he and Xue barely survive an attack by a nightmarish monster, and when he whisks her away to his estate, she discovers he's not just some country noble: He's the Duke of Dreams, one of the divine rulers of the Celestial Realm. There she learns the Six Realms are on the brink of disaster, and incursions by demonic beasts are growing more frequent.

The Duke needs Xue's help to unlock memories from her past that could hold the answers to how to stop the impending war… but first Xue will need to survive being the target of every monster and deity in the Six Realms.

PRELUDE

Once there was a young scholar who was exiled from the imperial court after angering the emperor. He fled to the forest of Sanxia with only his beloved qín and the clothes on his back. He built a small hut out of bamboo and dug a garden for sustenance. Each night he practiced on his qín, for he could not bear to leave the music of his former life behind. He believed his only audience was the wild animals, but one day he glimpsed a woman through the trees. He picked up his qín and chased after her, but she was too quick and he fell, smashing his instrument on the rocks.

The next day he toiled in his garden under the hot sun and, exhausted, threw down his tools. There was no music to look forward to in the evening, and filled with bitter disappointment, he fell asleep under the tóng tree.

He dreamed of a beautiful woman playing the qín, singing in accompaniment with a lovely voice. He woke and saw a nightingale above him on the branches of the tree, but ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The heart of Lin's story, a young outcast slowly falling in love on the estate of her mysterious stern employer, is a wonderful homage to Daphne du Maurier and the Brontë sisters. But the sorrowful, determined Xue is a breed apart from Rebecca's wilting flower narrator and even a step beyond plucky Jane Eyre. Xue's brilliant resilience shines. There is steel in this heroine's spine. She never backs away from a confrontation, even with a goddess who could smite her with a thought while staring her down. She fights for love, for what is right, but above all for herself. The right to choose what your destiny will be, to refuse to accept who the world tells you that you must be, is the theme that defines Song of the Six Realms and the thing that comes to define Xue...continued

Full Review Members Only (700 words)

(Reviewed by Sara Fiore).

Media Reviews

Cosmopolitan
Judy I. Lin basically put a spell on all of us with A Magic Steeped in Poison and now she's taking it one step further with her brand new standalone novel that combines magic, music, and romance. And yes, it will totally fill that hole in your heart after having to say goodbye to The Book of Tea duology that [we] so sadly had to say goodbye to in 2022. Trust us though, this book was certainly worth the wait

Paste
The latest novel from the author of A Magic Steeped in Poison once again deftly mixes Chinese folklore with music and romance in a delicately rendered fantasy world.

School Library Journal
Inspired by Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, Lin builds a fantastical gothic story immersed in Chinese mythology and folktales. ... Xue's ­musicianship is shown through poetic tales woven into the text, aided by lush scenic descriptions that reveal the tone and mood of each song. ... A beautifully detailed Gothic ­fantasy that explores how ignorance and deceit can crumble a community.

Booklist
Ephemeral, beautiful language lends a fairy-tale feel to a narrative with intrigue, nightmares, and twists around every corner; there is a strong Chinese cultural infusion, and the heady romance is slow-burning.

Kirkus Reviews
Full of magic, mystery, music, poetry, and intrigue. The detailed and impressive worldbuilding incorporates Chinese culture, food, lore, and poetry...A beautiful, engaging fantasy.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Lin (A Venom Dark and Sweet) weaves together poetry, music, and Chinese folklore to compose a gorgeously written, captivating story of love, grief, and family that's anchored in a vibrant world of danger and intrigue.

Author Blurb Axie Oh, New York Times-bestselling author of The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea
A beautiful, mesmerizing tale by one of my favorite storytellers. Song of the Six Realms is filled with mystery, wonder, and a slow burning romance that left me breathless.

Author Blurb Sue Lynn Tan, USA Today-bestselling author of Daughter of the Moon Goddess
Enchanting and beautiful, Song of the Six Realms will sweep readers into a glittering yet perilous world of gods and demons, captivating them with its magic, mystery and slow-burn romance.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

The Qin

Illustration of musician in colorful dress playing qin while standing Music and poetry are a central part of Song of the Six Realms by Judy I. Lin. They are cornerstones of life in the kingdom of Qi and the Celestial world beyond it. Music may entertain but it also expresses feelings Lin's characters can't express with words. Xue'er cannot bring herself to confess she is falling in love with Duke Meng, so she tells him through an ancient song about a courtesan waiting for a lost love. In Lin's world, music is also a tool of magic. Xue'er's mastery of the qin turns out to be the key to unlocking the mystery the duke is trying to solve and the music they make together will mean either the saving or destruction of both their realms.

The guqin, or qin, as it is informally called, is a very real ...

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Read-Alikes

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