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All booksYoung adultSong of the Crimson Flower
Song of the Crimson Flower by Julie C. Dao
Young adult

Song of the Crimson Flower

by Julie C. Dao

Quick take

Rejection is only the start of these lovers' problems. Follow along their quest, immersed in Vietnamese folklore.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Romance


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FastRead

    Fast read

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Magical


  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Quest


Why I love it

Juliann Nelson
Content Producer, Fortune

Growing up in small-town Indiana, I turned to books to learn about the world and other cultures. My favorite way to do so, then and still today, was through mythology and folktales. Reading Song of the Crimson Flower, I found myself riveted not just by the magic and lush setting, but also by the character dynamics and societal mores baked into superb worldbuilding based on a Vietnamese folktale.

Lan, a wealthy daughter of society’s upper crust, always thought herself a kind person—as did Bao, the orphaned physician’s apprentice who has been serenading outside her window for weeks. But when Lan cruelly rejects him, Bao renounces her and runs away—only to encounter a witch who ensnares his soul in a wooden flute. Remorseful and hoping to make amends, Lan promises to help Bao. Soon the two set off on a journey, discovering hidden dangers, unexpected allies, and blossoming feelings along the way.

To me, there’s nothing better than closing a book and feeling like my understanding of the world has expanded—and Julie C. Dao’s novel gave me exactly that. Enchanting and full of heart, Song of the Crimson Flower will satisfy the adventurer and romantic in any reader.

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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 begin 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?

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Check out a preview of Song of the Crimson Flower.

Member thoughts

All (228)
All (228)
Love (102)
Like (107)
Dislike (19)
241 ratings
  • 42% Love
  • 44% Like
  • 8% Dislike
  • South Bend, IN

    Oh, my heart! I absolutely adored this book. I was 100% invested in Lan and Bao from the first. This is a beautiful love story and so much more with layers of depth and nuance. I couldn’t put it down!

  • Puyallup, WA

    This book was love at first sight for me. I love the old fable vibe of it, and the characters are likable and believable - imperfect, but willing to grow better. Adventure, romance, magic - perfect!

  • Henderson, NV

    *This is part of a series! 2.5. It works as a standalone. Great story and character development. Loved everything from the curse to the journey. Heading back to boom 1 to see what came before.

  • Clinton, CT

    I read this book in a day! Once you start youre sucked into a beautiful world. You are introduced to read and see a slow burn of a friendship to romance happen and ahh highly recommend <3

  • Fort Worth, TX

    I really enjoyed this book. It is the follow up to two other books, and features some of the same characters, which I wish I had known but it was enjoyable on it's own.


    From my 15vyear old...This book is perfect for those who love to read romance and drama. Full of magic, love, and adventure, this book transports you to another world.

  • New Port Richey, FL

    Such a cute love story! I had a general idea of how it would end from the beginning, but I was supposed to know that, and loved the journey to the happy ending!

  • South Hadley, MA

    This book contained some great philosophical questions, and all the moral grayness I'd expect from Julie Dao, but with a lovely heaping of cute romance!

  • Blacksburg , VA

    Brilliant quest plot. Really enjoyed the characters. The intrigue and development of the underlying conflict was really well done. And the romance!!!

  • Alexandria, VA

    Beautifully written story of a girl who rejects a boy, yet stays by his side to break a curse. Loved watching the growth and the magic within.

  • Marietta, GA

    This felt like an East Asian retelling of Beauty and the Beast and I loved every minute of it! The characters and story were so strong.

  • Oak Harbor, WA

    This book is what would happen if Beauty and the Beast went on adventure together. Its the prefect winter read.

  • Saratoga Springs, UT

    This book is beautifully brilliant. Some may say simple because of the tale it is based on, but I adored it!

  • Monmouth, OR

    This is such a sweet and earnest love story. It’s also an incredibly fast read, but in the best way.

  • Windermere, FL

    A beautiful story about respect that evolves into love. Short, sweet, and well-written :)

  • Bronx , NY

    Really love this book! I went for the romance but the story and world were super good.

  • Wesley chapel , FL

    A short, sweet getaway. Sometimes folklore just hits the spot. ????

  • Salinas, CA

    This was a cute YA. Liked the characters and the fast paced story.

  • San Antonio , TX

    Great book, its a quick read but very enjoyable.

  • Mesa, AZ

    I love the book cover in great readed.

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