An Open Letter to Shiori (Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim)

This is part of a series called Margin Letters, where I write open letters to fictional characters of content I love. This particular installment is a stop on the blog tour organized by TBR and Beyond Tours. Please read my non-spoiler review here.

Shiori is the sole princess of Kiata and the protagonist of Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim. After her stepmother Raikama discovers her ability for magic–something that would warrant expulsion from the kingdom and imprisonment in mountains sealed by the gods–she and her brothers were cursed. The book follows her attempts to fight her away across the land and against magic to bring her family home.

Dear Princess Shiori,

I am glad to know that you and the princes are safe and together again, and that you have made it through the challenges all the forces of nature have thrown in your way. You are a hero, and your superpower is not just limited to your magic: patience, perseverance, and grace under silence are all extraordinary too.

I know you would probably squirm in your seat and mumble how you are simply a girl who just wants to go home. That’s true too. But being a regular girl and being your own hero are not necessarily separate things. Two girls in neighboring A’landi were ordinary too, but they were instrumental in winning a war. Your story gave them a final push to do what was needed, and it continues to be told even after that. It needs to be told.

Useless girl. Idiot girl. Magicless girl. Fishgirl. You have turned the harsh nicknames into challenges, and you have barrelled through pain and insults. So many other girls have faced similar names and similar situations. The knowledge of how you became your own hero might drown out their own bad nicknames and spiraling doom until they can also fight like you did.

I hope it gives you peace that your story is still told thousand of years later, in a time when the dragons have gone back to sleep and the mountain whispers no more secrets. I read your story and write this letter as I lay paralyzed with back pain and unable to move my limbs, drawing strength from the dogged steps you have taken one at a time until you have wrestled your and your family’s way home.

Sometimes, when the pain gets even worse, I lose myself in your tale again. I rejoice in your times of happiness, and I weep in nights of sorrow with tears enough for both your pain and mine–even if it’s not even close to what you have gone through. I found rest when you found rest, and within this rest, I began to heal.

Like Channari’s song that you sing to keep you company, I have Shiori’s song too:

Shiori was a girl who lived by the lake
who kept cakes in her sleeves and birds in her hair
Fly, fly, she sings to the kite
Grow, grow, she says to the seed.
But what did she make for a happy smile?
Friend, friend with paper wings!

Shiori was a princess who was bound by chains
made of silk and comfort, duty and laws
Run, run, she fled with a bowl.
NO, NO! she screams at her fate.
But what did she make for a freedom lost?
Soup, soup with carrots and fish!

Shiori was a warrior who faced the unknown
Who raised bleeding hands against the world.
Fight, fight! She stands her ground.
Come, come. She whispers to the moon.
But what did she make for a happy smile?
Home, home with letters and love!

In time, I think that I can look back and rejoice over the great distance I have conquered. I am excited for that day when I finally break my own bowl shielding me from my power.

But for now, walking without wincing is enough. One day at a time. One location at a time. One curse at a time.

I will also be my own hero.

I will also be free.

A fellow bowl-head,



17 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Shiori (Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim)”

    1. Thank you 🥺 I’m a very character-centered reader, so it works for me!

      Btw, I hope that the link shows the correct post. It reverted to my earlier draft which started with “Forgive me…”. Hope you can refresh it and reread?


  1. I absolutely love the idea of writing open letters to fictional characters, almost as if they were real! It helps connect to the story on a much much deeper level. Six Crimson Cranes is on my tbr, and I can’t wait to read it after this beautiful letter!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Okay, this is so adorable! I love the idea of writing letters to your favorite fictional characters—SO ORIGINAL! I read Six Crimson Cranes this last month and really enjoyed it. I do wish Seryu would’ve gotten more page time though. He was totally my favorite!

    Anyways, thanks for this amazing post!


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