Title/Author: Descendant of the Crane by Joan He
Publisher: Albert Whitman Company
Page Count: 416 Pages
Genre: Young Adult Own Voices Fantasy
Obtained: I received an eArc from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
GR Summary: Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, dreaming of an unremarkable life. But when her beloved father is found dead, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of a surprisingly unstable kingdom. What’s more, Hesina believes that her father was murdered—and that the killer is someone close to her.
Hesina’s court is packed full of dissemblers and deceivers eager to use the king’s death for political gain, each as plausibly guilty as the next. Her advisers would like her to blame the neighboring kingdom of Kendi’a, whose ruler has been mustering for war. Determined to find her father’s actual killer, Hesina does something desperate: she enlists the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by
death, since magic was outlawed centuries ago.
Using the information provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of Yan at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?
Character | Atmosphere | Writing Style
There is a lot of hype surrounding this book and it is very well deserved. I went into this book knowing very little about this book, but from the description it sounds like a standard nobility murder mystery with a dash of fantasy elements. But, while most mystery/thrillers are focused on the drama of actually catching the killer, Descendant of the Crane takes a more introspective look at the main character and the concept of “truth” in general. I loved how readers can see the time and effort that Joan He put into building her world and how intricate she made the court system. I love her writing style and every chapter is prefaced by a quote from the Tenets of the Eleven which is this worlds “bible” for an easy comparison. The way in which these quotes are written really make One and Two their own characters with distinct voices of their own. Joan He did an awesome job making relatively believable characters all with their own distinct voices, which with a cast of characters this size it isn’t always easy.
Two much of a thing — be it success of power — rots the heart. (ONE of the Eleven on soothsayers)
They had no hearts to begin with. (TWO of the Eleven on soothsayers)
Plot | Intrigue | Logic | Enjoyment
I was not prepared to take this journey of truth with our mc Hesina. I was all for searching dark alleyways to find a killer but instead, I got taken on an introspective ride of what is “truth” and what is the true cost of it. Also, what is the true cost of remaking the world? Poor Hesina put way too much on her plate. Honestly, I was just curious to see how far she would go with her trial and whether she would take the Cersei Lannister route to get what she wanted.
But (thankfully) Hesina actually cares about people and had to wrestle with caring about her subjects and getting the truth she desired. I would definitely say that there are some flaws in the logic of this book, but I feel like it could just be that some areas weren’t as fleshed out as I personally would have liked. But, I definitely didn’t understand why Hesina kept focusing more on her trial than the blossoming war on her borders. I just felt like once that crown got placed on her head she should have shifted focus to more administrative issues rather than just her own quest for justice. I highly doubt that while she’s running about her city that there weren’t other important matters beyond the trial for her fathers murder. Real life doesn’t work that way.
Also, not gonna lie, the twist ending is a little disappointing but I would like to see where it goes if this book becomes a series. I feel like there were enough threads left hanging to allow for a second book at least. My only other complaint is that the romance felt a little forced/sudden but at the same time it didn’t seem like it was trying to be more than just a simple attraction between two characters? I dunno it was a little confusing.
Overall, I had a lot of fun reading this story. I thought that the characters were all very distinctive and the writing style incredibly beautiful. I did find some plot holes and felt that there some areas that could have been explained much better or revealed a bit differently for more impact but despite those things, I would highly recommend this book for readers looking to break into YA fantasy but aren’t looking for something that is going need a huge commitment or be super confusion. This is an awesome introspective
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Cups of Chai
The twins didn’t share much about the past, but Hesina saw its fingerprints whenever Lilian took up the warmest spot in any room, and whenever Caiyan filled his empy rice bowl with tea and drank down the last grains. They lived life as if they lost its comforts someday, as if they remembered what it was like to be without shelter, food, and father.