Oh, it sure does hurt a little when you end up not liking a book as much as you thought you would.
Thank you to Albert Whitman & Company and NetGalley for giving me a free digital copy in exchange for an honest review.
All quotes are taken from the ARC and may change in the finished copy.
Title: Descendant of the Crane
Author: Joan He
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Release date: April 9, 2019
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Length: 416 pages (hardcover)
Synopsis: (via Goodreads) “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.”
“This fate has chosen her. It was only now, seventeen years later, that she chose it back.”
I enjoyed the court politics and political intrigue of this book. At first it took me at least ten chapters to be fully engrossed in this world as I had a bit of a hard time following what was going on. I liked how this isn’t a story about the main character, Hesina, becoming a queen, but rather how she manages her life as a queen. I have to be honest here, I’m not sure she’s made for the job. She is very bent on figuring out who murdered her father and it takes her places that perhaps would have been better if she had stayed away. The last few chapters of the book bumped up the book a good half a star. There are a decent amount of shocking revelations and twist I never saw coming.
“Missing people was like missing air. You weren’t supposed to survive without them, and you did yourself no favors by wondering how you survived anyway.”
I don’t have a favorite character, or one that I felt particularly drawn, too. The struggle is here that I didn’t feel for any one of them, unfortunately. I liked the twins, Caiyan and Lillian, one was very stoic while the other seemed a little carefree. I’m not sure what to make of the supposed “love interest” for Hesina named Akira. He was a mystery, but the little bits of backstory he revealed to Hesina didn’t do anything to convince me to like him. Granted, without him, many things wouldn’t have been solved in regards to the dead king and the soothes. I will say the betrayal of one character in particular surprised me completely and made me sad. I never saw it coming!
“Not all stories were hers to narrate.”
Despite how I feel about the book, I enjoyed the writing style. He does wonders weaving an intricate story, and I adored how this is a Chinese-inspired story. I truly felt like I was transported to another world, and it was like a story and a side I didn’t know I was missing. While this book wasn’t for me, I plan to keep an eye out on what else He has in store for her readers.
Check out these other reviews:
- Priyasha at Books and Co. enjoyed this Game of Thrones-inspired novel despite her apprehensions.
- Julianna from Paperblots wrote a lovely, in-depth review and declared DotC her favorite read of 2019!
- Kristen at Beyond Secret Pages loved all the aspects of Chinese culture throughout the book.