I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
TITLE: Descendant of the Crane
AUTHOR: Joan He
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
PUBLICATION DATE: April 9, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Tyrants cut out hearts. Rulers sacrifice their own.
Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, but when her beloved father is murdered, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina does something desperate: she engages the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by death... because in Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago.
Using the information illicitly provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust even her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant and alluring investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of her kingdom at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?
In this shimmering Chinese-inspired fantasy, debut author Joan He introduces a determined and vulnerable young heroine struggling to do right in a world brimming with deception.
Setting the Scene:
10 Word Summary
Chinese inspired fantasy with a slow start but many surprises.
Mood Before Reading
… There were a couple of different ones. It’ll all make sense, I promise! They included:
- “Let’s do this!”
- “Guess I’ll try.”
- *Sigh* “Do I have to?”
- DO IT FOR THE NETGALLEY RATING!!!
The Extremely Slow First Half
beginning first half was slow. Like super slow. Slow enough that I thought about DNFing it a few times (hence the whole list of moods). It just took forever to get into. Honestly, if it wasn’t an Asian inspired fantasy (or a Netgalley title), I might have actually called it quits.
Part of me thinks there wasn’t a romance but I’m pretty sure there was one. Or at least an attempt. The fact that I’m confused is why I’m putting this is the “bad” category. The romance wasn’t exactly bad, like the pairing and progression of the relationship makes sense. It just felt a bit rushed and haphazard.
Literally, everything else besides the above. Honestly, if Descendant of the Crane didn’t have such a poor start, it could have been a 5-star book.
I love, love, love, all of the characters in this story! They’re all so different and unique. Plus, all of their psychology are all on point. I was even tricked into forming emotional attachments to some characters that ended up WRECKING me and my poor heart.
I do have some (minor) mixed feelings about Hesina, our MC but her development is just so fantastic. I like how she’s not a perfect heroine and has many faults. She’s not the best fighter or the smartest, or even the one with the best calligraphy (relatable lol). She’s just the most determined (sometimes stupidly so). But her growth outshines all of her qualities, good and bad. I really appreciated the ability to watch her opinions and abilities transform over the span of the story.
The Twisty, Twisty Plot Twists
Descendant of the Crane has sooooo many freakin plot twists. And there were all really good surprising ones too! I swear, I did NOT see any of them coming, which is unusual for me. Some of the plot twists made me gasp audibly, one made me tear up, and that ending got me SHOOK. Let’s just say I sincerely hope this book sells enough to get a sequel or a spin-off. (Please, please, please buy it!!!)
I’m of Chinese descent so I really appreciate the way ancient Chinese culture was woven into this story. Especially the Chinese terminology. I love how some actual Chinese vocabulary was included in the story. It makes the fantasy feel a little extra special. The italicized Chinese words should be easy enough to infer, even if you didn’t suffer through 12 years of Chinese school like I did, and add an extra level of authenticity to the world building.
Descendant of the Crane makes up for its extremely slow start with its well-written characters and boatloads of unexpected plot twists.