REVIEW: Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

**I received an ARC from Netgalley and Edelweiss. These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.**

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

Release Date: April 2, 2019

My Rating: 4.75 stars

Summary: 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.


First off, I'd like to start by saying how excited I am to be on the street team for Descendant of the Crane! I've had so much fun on it, and I love helping promote this book as much as I possibly can because that's what it and the author deserve. Joan is so wonderful (thank you for giving me this opportunity to spread the word about your book!).
Tyrants cut out the hearts of dissenters. Rulers sacrifice their own.
Descendant of the Crane is billed as the Chinese Game of Thrones, and while I've never read nor seen it, I can definitely tell you that this comparison is 100% accurate. The plot? I couldn't put this book down. The writing? I wanted to highlight something on every page. The characters? I would lay down my life for all of them. You honestly need to put this book on your tbr lists; it's one of my favorite 2019 releases, and I actually kinda hate that I got to read it as an ARC because how am I going to live until the sequel releases??

This is a debut, which, honestly, shows that Joan He is coming for all of us with her future books. For this to be her first ever book published? Astounding. The writing is amazing and mesmerizing; the worldbuilding is spectacular (she really helps you understand all of the different little aspects of the world without info dumping); and the plot was so intricately planned that, despite seeing the first plot twist coming, I was completely blindsided by the 1234567890 twists afterwards. I was honestly the "pikachu_with_his_mouth_open.jpg" meme the entire second half of this book.
A dead king. A deceived populace. A truth seeker. Sounds like a story that could end very well or very poorly.
And the plot progresses at such a balanced pace, not too fast and not too slow. I honestly couldn't put it down because every point would lead to another scene that led to another scene that I couldn't take my eyes off of. Your eyes will be glued to the page. And the concept of the trial was very intriguing, mostly because I haven't really read anything similar in YA fantasy.

All of the characters are so great, I loved all of them (even the one at the end who [redacted] iykyk)! Hesina, the main character, is a girl after my own heart. Her character arc is so poignant as she searches for the truth about her father with the help of a convict, Akira, and her siblings, Caiyan, Lilian, and Sanjing.
Only you can decide the life you want to live. Carve your own fate.
Speaking of her siblings, I loved seeing their relationships. Caiyan and Lilian were taken in by Hesina and Sanjing's father, so they aren't related by blood, but Hesina loves them as if they were. Sanjing, on the other hand, has more of a complex relationship with them, and it's interesting to see how Hesina deals with this, as he scorns Hesina for her close relationship with the twins. Also, Hesina has a tense relationship with her mother although there are reasons for that that she'll find out...

One of my few issues was the romance. I loved Hesina and Akira as characters, but to me, it just felt like she had a crush on him? It felt a little insta-lovey to me, but that could just be me. Hopefully their relationship will be further developed in the next book.

This book was a captivating, enthralling masterpiece of a debut. It's been months, and I'm still not over that ending! Joan He's writing is amazing, the worldbuilding is expansive, and the plot will hypnotize you, with its stupefying twists and turns. You won't be able to put The Descendant of the Crane down. Pick this #ownvoices Chinese fantasy up on April 2! (And pssst, I have it on good authority that you'll get some really cool goodies if you preorder.)

I did some hand-lettered quotes as well! Check them out:


About the Author: When Joan He's not writing or senioring at the University of Pennsylvania (where she studies Psychology and East Asian Languages and Cultures), she hunts down cute wombat videos, drinks an obscene amount of iced coffee, and pretends she can handle scary anime. Her one regret is that she's not sponsored by Starbucks.

DESCENDANT OF THE CRANE is her debut novel, forthcoming in Spring 2019 from Albert Whitman & Co.

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