Book review – THE LILIES OF DAWN, by Vanessa Fogg


The official blurb:

There is a lake of marvels. A lake of water lilies that glow with the color of dawn. For generations Kai’s people have harvested these lilies, dependent upon them for the precious medicines they provide.

But now a flock of enchanted cranes has come to steal and poison the harvest. The lilies are dying. Kai’s people are in peril. A mysterious young man from the city thinks he might have a solution. Kai must work with him to solve the mystery of the cranes, and it will take all her courage, love, strength, and wisdom to do what she must to save both the lilies and her people. The Lilies of Dawn is a lushly written, lyrical fairy tale of love, duty, family, and one young woman’s coming of age.

My review:

I’ve read and loved Vanessa Fogg’s short fiction (this story at Mythic Delirium, for example – ‘Moon Story’), and just like her short stories, this novella is a well-crafted gem. Fogg’s prose is brilliantly clear and vivid as she tells this fairytale / fantasy-tale of Kai, the beautiful dawn lilies she harvests, and the strange cranes that come to ravage the flowers every year as they bloom.

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.

Highly recommended! (And the gorgeous cover art is by Likhain!)

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