Cover Image: Descendant of the Crane

Descendant of the Crane

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Member Reviews

Thank you to Netgalley and to the Publisher for the ARC.

This book was stunning. The writing was flawless to me. The world was great. The characters were amazing. I highly suggest this read.
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Not suitable for curriculum but will definitely reccommend to students for a diverse Asian inspired fantasy read. Full of action and intrigue!
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WOW! Descendant of the Crane is everything I didn't know I needed in YA right now. Successfully blending elements of the mystery, thriller, court intrigue and fantasy genres. Fantastic world building combined with a fast pace make this a YA debut not to miss!! 

Recommended for advanced readers 12+
Plot twists Galore
Clean Language
Minimal Romantic themes, these are innocent
Triggers for depictions of violence
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I will admit I was going into this book with thinking that it would be good. But I ended up LOVING IT! I cannot wait for this book to come out so that I can bask in all it's glory! Diffidently a five star read!
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At its barest bones, Descendant of the Crane is much like many other fantasy novels. An abnormally young Queen (Hesina) ascends to the throne on the heels of a conspiracy (the death of her father), and sets about unraveling said conspiracy along with the help of an assorted crew of other teenagers.

However, where most of the other books that follow this blueprint blend together, Descendant of the Crane shines. Hesina is an immensely relatable narrator and every time she hurt, I hurt. When she cried, I cried. The rest of her motley crew (her brother, her adopted siblings, and a convict) is fleshed out to perfection, making their sufferings throughout the book very affecting. (If it seems like I'm focusing too much on the sadness, it's because this book absolutely broke my heart in the best way, and boy am I still feeling it.)

The plot takes turns that are unexpected and never extraneous. The setting is beautiful and vividly depicted. Relationships grow believably and emotionally. Hesina struggles with her country's persecution of the sooths (a magically gifted subset of people) and this exploration of what to do when your sense of morality conflicts with seemingly everyone else is at the core of the story. 

Hesina has just become a monarch, but I loved that, unlike most of these characters, she was extremely competent. There were many forces at play that she had little control over, but her promise as a ruler is never clearer than during her interactions with the Crown Prince of a rival nation. The backbone of the plot of the book is the mystery of the death of Hesina's father, and although other plotlines make up the heart of the book, this mystery's twists and turns keep this book engaging.

As genres, I love period dramas and fantasy for their court intrigue plotlines, and Descendant of the Crane featured enough of this to make me happy, while still being more of an action/adventure type fantasy novel than I was quite expecting. Nonetheless, the action was exhilarating, and I wouldn't change a moment of it.

I think I may never recover from this book. I will be eagerly awaiting its sequel and I highly recommend it to lovers of fantasy, incredible heroines, and mystery.
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DNF, stopped in Chapter 2.

Honestly, I am really disappointed. The cover is beautiful, the idea is great, and who doesn’t love a Chinese inspired setting?? Unfortunately, the first chapter failed to grip me, and the second chapter just made me frustrated. I feel like we were just dropped into the story and expected to care without given a reason why. 

Hesina mentions the Eleven, who overthrew the previous dynasty,  and says that she disagrees with the way they handled the Sooth, but not what her actual relationship is to them. I’m assuming they are her ancestors since she’s the princess, but it’s never explicitly stated, and she describes them so distantly that I don’t care. 

Everything, actually, was delivered in these confusing snippets of information that was almost all historical background, but not much about the characters. I know that Hesina is going to be queen (and has always known this, even though the synopsis implies otherwise), that she has twin siblings that her father adopted, a blood brother, and that she wants justice for her father’s murder. Except, as the king, this shouldn’t be that hard to investigate? She literally has all the resources of the kingdom at her disposal, and it makes no sense to me whatsoever that the death of THE KING wasn’t investigated further in the first place. The whole premise does not make sense. 

And her solution, the big plan to get justice for her father? 

Litigation. She needs to find her representative...for a court case…..the very idea has me bored out of my mind, and I cannot continue. 

I’m sure this is going to be an unpopular opinion, and maybe it gets more exciting past chapter 2, but I refuse to give a book my time if it isn’t interesting after at least the first chapter.
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Descendant of the Crane sounded amazing, and I was so excited to receive an arc for it. I love Chinese historical dramas with all the court intrigue and scheming, but this book really let me down. To start, it just was confusing. You’re dropped right into the aftermath of Hesina’s father’s murder with very little explanation of what is going on or the world in which it’s set. Also, the pace is incredibly slow. Sometimes a slow build up works, but in this case it did not. The main character, Hesina, is pretty uninteresting, and I never could connect with her or any of the other characters. I thought this would be definitely up my alley, but it decidedly was not.
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3.75 / 5 stars

Descendant of the Crane follows Princess Hesina of Yan after the sudden death of her father.  Hesina believes that her father was murdered by someone seeking to disrupt the kingdom.  Hesina seeks the guidance of others to help her uncover the truth of this mysterious death and help her kingdom succeed.  

Throughout this story Hesina must face many different obstacles as she prepares to become queen.  I like how Hesina’s youth does show in this novel as she seeks help and guidance on how to do what is best for her people.  Hesina is resourceful and does show some strong qualities of becoming a good ruler.  There is much prejudice against people with powers known as “Sooths.”  There are struggles between Hesina and others as Hesina makes choices that she believes are right.  Hesina is very protective over those she loves and what she believes.  I think that most of the motivations of her character were very strong and well presented.

I love how the author clearly shows that while Hesina is respected for being queen, it is basically only because of her title.  Without the crown on her head, her people would ignore and not support most of her decisions.  I especially enjoyed how this idea is further used as Hesina begins to openly have some struggle of power between herself and her people.  This inclusion made the politics and actions more realistic, and the stakes of her power of ruling that much higher.    

I did have some problems with this though.  I think some of the ideas and revelations in this novel are not well developed and explained.  I still have some confusion on some of the twists and history included.  I also was not a fan of most of the twists towards the end.  I thought some were good or okay but a lot towards the end I was pretty disappointed by the direction the story took.  I think that the first half of the book was the stronger half.  The last forty percent of the novel began to gradually grow flat for me.  I personally think that this story would have been better as a standalone, but I will not say that it 100 percent needed to be.  I just believe that the story would have been stronger as a standalone, but I am not opposed to reading the sequel or continuing on in this world. 

This book is one I could see many students and individuals adoring.  I may have to pick it up for my classroom.
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Though this book was a bit predictable, the character development was superb and I really felt for her. I think we could have benefited from having the brother's perspective occasionally, but the protagonist was gripping. Loved the Asian themes!
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I’m always nervous when it comes to YA fantasy these days, because my tastes have started shifting enough that I find this kind of fantasy to be very hit or miss. Unfortunately, Descendant of the Crane was very nearly a miss – which simply translates to the fact that it was just plain okay, in my humble opinion. It earns marks for being a quick read (I was seriously nearly halfway through it before I realized I’d gotten so far already), and for having a story that kept me just interested enough to see how it would all unfold. But having had a little distance from the novel, I can easily pinpoint the thing that really bugged me: the underdeveloped characters (and relationships), which invited no emotional attachment from me as a reader. Having no emotional investment meant that the story fell flat for me, instead of being the exciting high stakes fantasy mystery filled with twists and turns that it seems like it was meant to be. It also doesn’t help that there are numerous plot threads woven all throughout, and it ultimately felt like a messy reading experience as we moved from one to the next. Descendant of the Crane was just fine overall, which is personally disappointing since I wanted to love it so badly.
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I was so impressed with this book. It was chosen as one of our Teen Staff Pick contenders and I voted enthusiastically for it! I was engrossed by Joan He's fantasy/historical fiction in a way that a book hasn't captured me since Min-Lee's "Pachinko"! I seriously hope there is another coming out soon!
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A book has never left me so speechless. The last quarter of the book was a wild rollercoaster ride. Jaw-dropping, heart-pounding, amazing, fantastic, beautiful.

Princess Hesina is certain that her father's death was not of natural causes like the Imperial Doctress proclaimed. She is so certain that he was murdered, she's willing to commit the ultimate act of treason to prove it: she will consult a Sooth. The Sooth leads her to a mysterious convict as her ally, but is he to be trusted? In fact, is anyone to be trusted as the kingdom plunges into chaos?

Descendant of the Crane is full of twists and turns around every corner, making Hesina--and the reader--doubt everything she knows about her kingdom, her father, and the throne she sits upon. A phenomenal debut, I look forward to what Ms. He will follow up with--especially the sequel.
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This was a beautiful book embracing fantasy and Chinese culture. It was gorgeous descriptive writing that made me feel like I was within this world myself. Hesina was a strong character who was passionate and knowledgeable about Sooths and that history. I enjoyed reading about her and her brother too. There was a lot of mystery and court intrigue. It was a very interesting political fantasy with rich writing. It ended on a cliffhanger but I sure am hopeful for a sequel. A must for your 2019 Fantasy TBR.
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This book was riveting! There were so many twists and unexpected reveals, I was kept guessing through the whole story. I love the world that He has created, drawing from historical Chinese culture and creating a sumptuous, beautiful fantasy world. Though some of the elements of that fantasy aren't, in my opinion, fleshed out enough, especially in terms of the Sooths, I still felt I knew enough to grasp the plot and the reasons for characters making the decisions they did. I liked the character development for the most part. There are times when Hesina is a little too much. She often decries her useless and it made me wish that she had been given at least one skill she felt totally confident in, to give her a bit more strength (though she claims she's good at lying, she often doubts her skill in the moment, anyway).

I thought the action sequences were really awesome and well thought out. I could really picture each as they happened in my head. These fights, coupled with the gathering of clues, the courtroom drama, and the bartering with neighboring kingdoms to avoid war all equaled a thrilling plot that kept me turning page after page.Some of the book felt a bit rushed, but otherwise the plot really clips along quickly, sweeping through a very complex and intriguing plot. I was deeply invested and I was disappointed at the cliffhanger ending, but I understood the reason for it. I will be greatly anticipating the next installment in this series.
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Well, I really hope there's a sequel of some sorts in the future, despite being a standalone as of now. The epilogue at the end was not enough to satisfy me, unfortunately. The story was well written, contained great characters, and has a world that has left me intrigued. 

Hesina is a great character. I liked her drive and passion in figuring out her father's mysterious death, as well as adjusting to her new position as queen (though we all know she was definitely not ready to be one in the beginning). Hesina is one of the many strong characters, male and female, in the novel. Despite being prone to making mistakes, she still treks forward. Also, she notes that she is a sympathizer, to humans and to soothes, but she doesn't always make it show, because she knows it will be a sign of weakness, so seeing her internal struggle with this was admirable. As a queen, she needs to watch her actions. Hesina is also surrounded by many characters, good and bad. However, my favorite of her interactions was with her brother Sanjing. It was immediately established in the story that both siblings do not get along, and it was heart-wrenching to sense the tension between every interaction. The development of their sibling relationship was heartwarming but unfortunate as it was driven by tragedy. I really like Sanjing as a character, it's sad that he didn't appear more as he would have been such an interesting character to explore. 

The world in which the story takes place in took a while to adjust to, with the occasional info-dump here and there, but all fantasy novels have those so it's a bit unavoidable. The plot of the story was kind of slow in the beginning, but it definitely picks up as events happen and secrets unfold. Although the perpetrator behind Hesina's father's death was unexpected, the true antagonist was expected, at least to me it was because I didn't fully trust the said character throughout the story. I also found the romantic subplot to be rushed as well as the ending itself. As mentioned before, the epilogue didn't leave me satisfied because it didn't provide a solid conclusive ending, which I would have preferred since this is a standalone novel (though the author has mentioned that there is a potential for companion novels, but none as of yet).

Overall, this was an interesting read. If you're looking for a Chinese fantasy story that involves mystery and politics, then this might be worth a read for you.
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I don't even have words for how good this book is. The worldbuilding was on point, the characters were so rich, and I'm still just in awe. This well-deserves to be one of the biggest books of 2019, and the hardcover comes out just in time for my birthday so you know I'll be picking one up. :)
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Get ready for Joan He, a new tour-de-force who is changing up the YA fantasy game.

DESCENDANT OF THE CRANE is a richly drawn tapestry of complex characters, a sprawling world, and a tense plot that wounds the reader as tightly as it does its burgeoning queen, Hesina. Utterly compelling from page one, this book will grab you and not let up until the final page. And even then, it'll leave you wanting more.

He's style is as lyrical as Laini Taylor, and as unforgiving as Leigh Bardugo. CRANE is destined to become a modern fantasy classic.
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Descendant of the Crane is already one of my favorite books of the year. This rich, politically tense fantasy was such an enjoyable read for me. 
My favorite part about the book was definitely the characters. Lilian was my favorite, closely followed by Akira and Caiyan. While I didn't enjoy Hesina quite as much, I did appreciate her dramatic character growth throughout the book. 
The plot was so unique, and like nothing I'd ever read before. I really liked the Chinese-inspired setting, as well as the detailed history of the Eleven and the relic emperors. So much was going on in this book; political obstacles to navigate, tensions with other countries, complicated relationships between Hesina and all of her siblings, and the ever-present threat of the magical abilities of the sooths. 
However, I did find the first several chapters of the book difficult to get through. It wasn't that the content was boring; I just wasn't very interested in any of the characters or anything that was happening yet. In particular, I thought the trial surrounding the king's death was strange in that it was treated as any other trial, rather than one investigating the possible murder of the king of the country. It seemed to me that no one was taking it very seriously. 
As the story continued, I did come to enjoy the characters much more and I became a lot more invested in the plot.
The prose was absolutely beautiful, as were the depictions of the relationships between Hesina and her siblings, particularly her adopted siblings.
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This is the book. Everyone else can stop writing now, cause this is the best one. Writing is over, cancelled. This ornate world'building, incredibly engaging and fresh character dynamics, and plot twist after plot twist that kept me guessing until the end is exactly what YA should be. Joan He is a genius, an evil genius perhaps because of the ending, but a genius all the same. Hesina is the main character everyone aspires to write, relatable but not cliche, strong but vulnerable, and complex in many other ways. This is book is perfect and you should read it.
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It's a heart-wrenching, gorgeous, and remarkably clever standout in YA fantasy. It pulls absolutely no punches. I'm just floored and shoving this at everyone I know when it comes out in April.

Most engaging to me was Hesina and her plans. The politics were so smart. I was rooting for Hesina every step of the way, and all her mistakes and successes felt so nuanced and genuine. When she was caught off-guard by the own tiniest weak points that her own plans exposed, on herself or on others, I was just as shocked as her. I felt overwhelmed by all the things she had to handle, but stunned as well by the cleverness and clarity with which the book handled so much backstabbing and political nuance.
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