Descendant of the Crane
by Joan He
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Pub Date 16 Jun 2020 | Archive Date 13 May 2020
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. In Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago—this is a treasonous act, punishable by death.
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.
A Note From the Publisher
Publishing UK, ROI and Commonwealth (excluding Canada) - territory request considerations will apply.
"Descendant of the Crane is my favorite kind of story: lyrical, romantic, politically complex, but most of all, driven by an iron-willed heroine who will do what must be done—no matter the cost."
Kristen Ciccarelli, internationally bestselling author of The Last Namsara
"Intricately plotted and beautifully written, Descendant of the Crane will demand your attention from start to finish."
Christine Lynn Herman, author of The Devouring Gray
"Descendant of the Crane completely swept me away. He's original voice is amplified by sophisticated storytelling and a captivating world. In a sea of young adult fantasy, this book stands on its own."
Adrienne Young, author of Sky in the Deep
"A beautiful debut with thrilling politics and strokes of magic, set in a lush world that feels real and weighted with its own complex history."
Lori M. Lee, author of the Gates of Thread and Stone series
"Joan He has penned a lovely and intriguing tale of secrets, family, and betrayal. You'll be drawn in by this marvelously vivid world... and keep turning the pages for the plot twists!"
Traci Chee, New York Times bestselling author of The Reader
"Deep world-building, magical family secrets, and intricate palace politics—Descendant of the Crane soars from page one. Its twists and treacheries kept me guessing until the very end."
Rachel Hartman, New York Times bestselling author of Seraphina
"Hesina is a heroine for the ages—brilliant, determined, and fierce. It is impossible not to root for her."
Laura Sebastian, New York Times bestselling author of Ash Princess
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 62 members
I really enjoyed reading “Descendant of the Crane“. The Chinese-inspired setting was very interesting and the political intrigue had me guessing what would happen next throughout the whole book.
Overall a delightful read that I highly recommend to every fantasy lover.
Descendent of the Crane is a fantasy set in an Asian inspired world. It is beautiful, full of rich imagery, folklore and settings with delightful and fierce characters - Caiyan and Hesina are wonderful!
I’d had my eye on this title for the longest time as it was published in the US much before it’s release here in the U.K. And I have to say, it was worth the wait! Everything about it is beautiful, breathtaking and magical.
It’s not my usual type of fantasy, it’s not a bloody, foul-mouthed adventure of moral greyness (my favourite kind of fantasy!haha!) it’s instead a mystical romp into an alternate world seeped in rich folklore and legend of ancient China. It was a wonderful change of pace for me and I truly enjoyed it.
DESCENDANT OF THE CRANE is a lushly drawn fantasy book, the world leaping off the pages. The world feels so real, the details woven through the story in such a way that you don’t notice the individual brush strokes because the painting is so flawlessly rendered. It was an amazing world to fall into.
The characters are a vibrant bunch, and I loved how a variety of sibling relationships were shown through Hesina’s siblings. Hesina herself has a determination to see things through, and gets herself into a fair number of scrapes following her heart. I loved Lilian, and the mischievous bluntness of her words. Akira is so mysterious I didn’t get a real sense of him, and he does rather splurge his backstory (which didn’t help me understand him any more).
The chapters begin with quotes from the tenets – a key part of the story. The contrast between the solemn tone of the first and the somewhat flippant response of the second made me laugh. Often these epigraphs don’t add to stories, or come across as slightly pretentious to me, but I enjoyed the injection of dry humour they gave.
The plot is full of surprising twists and turns to keep you on your toes, shocking and exciting in equal measure. I could not have predicted the plot at all, with all these elements cropping up and tangling together to move the story forwards. It is not your typical YA story, and I can see exactly why book twitter has exploded over it. However, some of the twists felt too surprising.
The final act caught me by surprise. It felt like it came out of nowhere, sending me into a confused tailspin for several chapter. I didn’t understand why the character behind it would do such a thing. Thank heavens for the epilogue (the very long epilogue) that actually explained what had just happened and why.
Descendant Of the Crane is an intricate fantasy novel which is heavily laden with political intrigue, mystery and an understated but very powerful writing style. The novel follows Hesina, the heir to the throne, as she tries to unravel the mystery behind her fathers suspicious demise. With the help of a mysterious sooth, Hesina is guided towards a convict who is meant to help her, but hides his own dark past. The further she goes to seek the truth however, the less she is certain of. Until Hesina is forced to reconcile the fact that she may not have known her father at all, as well as those around her…
One of my favourite things about this novel as well, was the unrelenting tension and sense of political intrigue and danger. This novel felt like a game of chess where the pieces are constantly moving and for every move one character makes, there’s another character waiting in the shadows, anticipating their demise. I loved how Hesina navigates this world, a world which she has been shielded from up till now due to her doting father. She is given no reprieve and she makes decisions that could be considered foolish but that’s the point, it felt more realistic to me than her immediately being Cersei Lannister, you know? The tension feels so very real in this novel and you know that saying? fall from grace? more like plummeting. No spoilers but this took me on a wild ride for sure.
I also appreciated the unexpected, but very important exploration of Hesina’s relationship with her mother, who neglects her and is emotionally abusive. I thought this was quite profound and the parts where these two characters have a scene were so painful to read, at least for me, but I think that it added a lot to Hesina’s backstory and adds some more layers. I think this fraught relationship is even more striking because of Hesina’s comparably strong and loving relationship with her father, and the fact that her mother showers her brother Sanjing with attention. I read a post once which mentioned the complex relationships between mothers and their daughters and this novel certainly speaks to that complexity.
The writing itself is very pretty and there are quite a few bits I highlighted and found poetic so I enjoyed the way Joan He writes a lot. Particularly there are some bits about the moon that were A+. I also think He is great at concise, clear writing which I’m such a fan of, although I enjoy lengthy paragraphs as much as the next person, it just fits with the tone here for it to be more stripped back and have more clarity. I don’t know whether that makes a lot of sense but if you’ve read this book, perhaps you’ll know what I mean.
Overall, Descendant of the Crane is an excellent addition to the growing and incredible collection of diverse Y/A fantasy and it deserves all the love and kudos because it’s genuinely such a clever and well crafted piece of work. While the door is left open for a sequel, I couldn’t find any definitive proof suggesting it was in the works? Either way, I’m glad to have read it and will happily be recommending it from now on!
-Review to be posted on blog closer to release date-
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