I received a free ARC of this book from the author, the publisher, and Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my honest opinion.
About the Book
Title: Descendant of the Crane
Author: Joan He
Genre: Young Adult, Asian fantasy
Publisher: Albert Whitman Company
Release Date: April 9, 2019
ISBN: 0807515515 (ISBN13: 9780807515518)
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.
What is truth? Seek it. Write it. Good kings pay gold to hear it. But in trying times, truth is the first thing we betray.
When I first heard of this book, I was like, “OMG a Chinese- inspired fantasy GOT?!” Yay for more Asian representation!
Descendant of the Crane by Joan He was a pleasant surprise for me. It is a test of the readers’ wit and prediction skills. The plot caught me off-guard, and I may have underestimated the Chinese influence in this book. The characters are not to be underestimated too, because they are not as simple as you think. Some will betray, some are friends and not the foe we believe them to be, and some will need a chair because all they want is to sit back and not participate.
Dear reader, it is getting extremely hard not to mention any spoilers.
The characters are complex and the author must have gone through great lengths to outline the details of each one. No one is as they seem.
- Hesina – She is brave and determined, but can be a bit too confident sometimes, and puts “all her eggs in one basket”. Incredibly stubborn, probably a magnet that attracts trouble. She is curious and because of that, she usually ends up hurting herself just for the truth.
- Sanjing – Hesina’s brother is fiercely loyal although he does not usually show it. Violent, but worried and loving deep inside. Not exactly my favorite character. There’s a rift between him and his sister, but I live for those few pages where they actually show sibling love.
- Caiyan – General Sanjing’s poor, helpless, target, one of their adopted siblings (the other is Lilian). A scholar, he is very wise and often warns Hesina before she gets herself into trouble (though his warnings often go unfollowed anyway). No skilled with weapons, but he makes up for it in court.
- Lilian – Caiyan’s twin sister is my second most favorite character! She is lovable, bright, and bubbly, daring and brave. She isn’t afraid to go great lengths for the people she loves. In the simplest sense, she is her twin’s exact opposite when it comes to personality, but hey, they agree with each other (sometimes).
- Akira – Calm, collected, convict. Very mysterious and reclusive, probably has hidden powers. Likes to question things, very witty and intelligent, practiced with the sword–er, his wooden rod, rather (or was it a flute?). Great hair. Definitely new book boyfriend.
The plot is very intricate and treacherous as the MC, Yan Hesina, hunts for the truth. The plot twists on this book are on another level. Seriously! This book is riddled with plot twists that I was NOT prepared for. That ending had me SHOOK. Oh, this book gave me trust issues, all right. In the end, the truth was not as it seemed, hence the shock haha. The ending left me very unsatisfied (a huge cliffhanger, I might add) but all the more reason for me to get excited for a sequel if there is, or maybe a companion book.
Justice is a muscle. Without faith, it weakens. Without use, it decays. Without challenges, it does not strengthen.
The writing is vivid. I’m so happy that this book is a real embodiment of Chinese culture, and I got to learn pieces of their everyday life: their politics, customs and beliefs, social interactions, even down to the clothes they wear. I don’t know much about Chinese culture, most of what I know is from school. But I can see parallels from this book to actual elements in the culture of Chinese people.
The most beautiful thing I have witnessed from this book is a father’s love for his daughter. Hesina had a wonderful relationship with her father, and he’s the reason why she found happiness and learned to admire the small things in life, despite her mother’s negligence strong dislike of her own daughter.
“You coddle her,” her mother would snap if she saw. Her father would reply with a shrug. “I’m the only one who does.”
I hope my review can help you decide whether to read Descendant of the Crane or not! If you ever decide to read this gorgeous heart-wrecker of a book, I beg you to please heed my warning: Tread lightly, for nothing is as it seems. Though, of course, if you prefer to have the full experience, then you should probably shut down your mind and follow your so-called heart while you still can, because soon enough, it will break anyway.
A well-conceived costume is a new identity, the father used to say as he put on his commoner’s cloak. From now until I return, I am no longer the king. Teach me how to make a costume, begged the daughter. He did that, and more. By candlelight, he divulged every way he knew of escaping the palace, for King Wen of Yan loved the truth, and little was found within the lacquer walls.
Descendant of the Crane is perfect for fans of Game of Thrones and (according to some) The Girl King.
“What happened? It was his time. It was all our times. And yet, we lived. The world loved us once. It no longer does. One day you will know what it means to be forsaken.
5 / 5 stars shining
My creativity kicked in and I decided to make some wallpapers with my favorite DOTC quotes! Just download the images. I hope you enjoy them!