Descendant of the Crane by Joan He
Publisher: Albert Whitman Company
Publication Date: April 9 2019
Personal Rating: 3/5
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 enlists 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 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.
This book was provided to me via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
This fantasy novel is unlike anything I have read before. Most fantasy novel (besides being western based) are focused on action scenes, exploring new places, tricking people and lots and lots of action. Descendant of the Crane is all in the internal court — everything that happens behind the scene when a war is brewing.
This Chinese-inspired fantasy was filled with people with magical abilities called sooth — think of their powers as a mix of X-Men and element bending from The Last Airbender. Sooths in this world are hated and the people in Yan go as far as murdering their neighbors to get rid of the sooths — all because it is what their saviors from centuries from before declared.
After the death of her father, Hesina becomes the Queen of Yan and starts an investigation of her father’s death. While the majority of the novel involves trying to figure out who murdered the previous king and trying to stop a brewing war it also deals with all the stages of grief. One of the major factor’s of the novel is the focus of what grief can do to someone and how it can affect your decisions.
This politically complex novel included a beautiful slow-burn romance that never once overpowered the main plot. I’d say the romance is probably one of the least important plot points. However, the main plots in the novel were weak and uninteresting. The subplot points were more interesting than the main one.
Majority of the problems thrown to Hesina were orchestrated by a single man — and Hesina knew this, but did nothing. I could not understand why. Being queen means you are capable of getting rid of people from the court or making them disappear. It definitely gave her the power to make a convict into a scholar for her own personal purposes. She just let this old crook ruin everything she was doing when she could have stopped him on multiple occasions. He was made into a big “antagonist” but he had no substance to him. There was a whole plot point on how to deal with the person — and it ended with him not being dealt with which was silly. I feel that making the crowned prince of the neighboring country more of a mysterious antagonist would have made a more interesting plot point.
Due to the weak plot, the deaths in the novel did not hurt. They felt random and a bit unnecessary. The plot twists were “okay” I was more concerned about what was gonna happen with the neighboring kingdom and the sooth than the trail.
However, this book series has potential and I can see it’s potential. I definitely look forward to reading the sequel.
If you guys want to read a Chinese inspired fantasy you should definitely give this book a shot. The imagery is beautiful. The magic is intriguing and new. The world building and history is truly fascinating.