Review | Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He ★★

“What is truth? Scholars seek it. Poets write it. Good Kings pay gold to hear it. But in trying times, truth is the first thing we betray.”

I received this e-book from Netgalley. This does not affect my review or opinion. All thoughts are my own and I’m being 100 percent honest. Thank you to Netgalley and Titan Books for providing me this e-book for reviewing purposes.

I really wanted to love ‘Descendant of the Crane’ but it didn’t meet my expectations

I feel awful writing this review because I really wanted to like this book but I just didn’t. I had no connection with these characters whatsoever, the plot was really slow. I did like the magic system and would’ve liked to see more of it.

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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 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.

The plot of Descendant of the Crane sounded really cool. A Chinese-inspired fantasy? Hell yes, give me more. A world where there’s magic but it was outlawed years ago? Yes yes yes! Sadly, the execution wasn’t great and I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would.

Let me start off by saying that I think Joan He has potential. The idea behind Descendant of the Crane is very good and interesting and I did like her descriptive writing style. If you were to combine that with interesting characters and action it would be great. That’s not what happened in this book, though. I must say I found it kind of boring. Because of the lack of action, it was too descriptive.

I had no connection whatsoever with any of these characters. I was reading this book and it felt like I was a school textbook. Just a text about some random people. I wanted to love these characters, but they had no personality and no character development.

I also would’ve liked to see more action in Descendant of the Crane. I wanted to read about a princess and a convict going on a quest together to find the princess’s father’s killer. That’s not what happened in my opinion. The magic system did seem very cool but wasn’t elaborated enough. I would’ve loved to read more about these sooths and the magic they possess.

The ending was a plot twist and I definitely liked that, I would’ve liked to see more of that.

I do love this cover. It’s absolutely gorgeous. I don’t have words for it, it’s just stunning.
Overall I did not like this book. The ending saved it from being a 1 star but I still don’t like Descendant of the Crane. Joan He as an author definitely has a lot of potential and I would like to see more of her. It is her debut and I think with the right help she will become a great author.

Would I recommend this book?
No, I wouldn’t. I have seen a lot of great reviews about Descendant of the Crane so maybe check those out before throwing this book off your tbr list. I am only one person and I have my own views and opinions that might differ from yours

Trigger warnings
Genocide, immolation, physical violence, slavery (mentioned), torture
Representation in this book
Main character of color
Young adult, fantasy
Publication date
June 16, 2020
Titan Books
About the author
He is a second-generation Chinese American, she was raised on a diet of Chinese cartoons and dramas. Journey to the West was basically her Sponge Bob. She’s a recent grad of the University of Pennsylvania, where she majored in Psychology and minored in East Asian Language and Cultures. She loves cats and wombats. She likes a weird story: the weirder the story, the better. She thinks she should be sponsored by Starbucks and she is represented by John Cusick of Folio Lit.


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