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The Lilies of Dawn Paperback – July 26, 2016
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Fogg brings the world of the story to life with all its sounds and smells and colours, making it feel close and real, and then expertly weaves the fairytale-element into that world. There’s an under-current of sadness and loss, of longing and regret, running beneath the beautiful landscape of ‘The Lilies of Dawn’ that makes me think of the movie ‘The Tale of Princess Kaguya’. In that story, as in this one, there are deep and bruising consequences when the world of the divine touches our world “below”: in the end, humans, deities, and, yes, enchanted cranes, are all affected.
Another thing I really like about ‘The Lilies of Dawn’ is how the story ties together the fantasy – the origin and fate of the demon cranes – with Kai’s very real and human journey of discovering her own strengths and weaknesses, and understanding what place she wants to claim in the world.
In Kai's world, a flock of cranes is not a problem that can be solved with a scarecrow. As the lilies are far more than flowers floating on a lake, so the cranes are far more than a flock of hungry birds. And who is the handsome and enigmatic Kevak, whose noble bearing is at odds with his expertise at scrubbing floors?
Like all the best fantasy, The Lilies of Dawn has resonance with our own world in our own time, though it refrains from beating us over the head with it. Nevertheless, the more Kai finds out about the cranes, the more I came to think about where else I'd heard about communities defending what they need from newcomers who don't want to be there in the first place.
Not that I needed that thought to make the story worth reading. I was happy to just enjoy the tale.
It’s the story of Kai, who is the daughter of the Priestess of the Dawn Mother. A deity who’s beautiful lilies bloom at dawn and give an elixir that cures ills. However, mysterious sunlit cranes sweep in out of nowhere to steal the precious nectar and poison the flowers. Shamans, Priests and monks seek to rid the village of the birds but none succeed – until a mysterious young man appears with a possible solution.
I was pleasantly surprised with the story. A solid plot that combines real life with mysticism. There were a few things I predicted, but it wasn’t a disappointing experience – and there were few where I thought I knew where it was going and it didn’t. Like the ending! Although in hindsight I should have seen that coming haha.
The words flow beautifully along, strung almost poetically from the perspective of Kai. We get to understand her persona, learn about life and how everything has been building towards the climatic end.
Outside of my scope, still a recommended read.
Let’s start with the praise. This book is gorgeously written, with a gorgeous cover by likhain. The world-building is rich and the characters are interesting, I’d love to read more stories set in this world.
The story itself is introspective, the main character is questioning her place in the world and much of the conflict is character-driven. It’s a quiet story, well-executed.
At the same time, I would have loved for it to be longer, but I pretty much always feel this way about shorter books when they’re good. Some people may find the ending dissatisfying, but keep in mind that it’s a novelette (essentially a long short story) and not a novella or novel. I enjoyed it a lot, but if you’re not comfortable with bittersweet or ambiguous endings, this may not be a story for you.
I’m definitely going to have to check out Vanessa Fogg’s other short work, and I look forward to any book-length work she puts out in the future.