Descendant of the Crane

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 03 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He was published by Albert Whitman Company and will be available on the shelves on April 9th, 2019. This is He's debut novel.

This novel starts with the princess, Hesina, committing treason in order to find her father's murderer. The sooth, a magic user who can predict the future, instructs her to find a convict with a rod who will help her in her task. Thus begins Hesina's journey of lies and crimes in order to unveil the truth, but the further she digs, the more she discovers the horrors of her kingdom and everything her father left to her. From family squabbles to threats of war, to sooths being hunted in the streets, to games of power with political officials, this book does a great job in lulling you into a sense of calm. You think you know what's going on and what's going to happen only to be blindsided by a twist you never saw coming. After the shock, you think you have things figured out, only to be smacked in another direction by another plot twist.

I really loved this book. It reminded me of Eon and Eona by Alison Goodman, possibly because of the writing style or maybe the characters. 

The characters are great, each with their own personalities and goals yet everything they do is colored by Hesina's perspective of them. Even the ones she struggles to trust or forgive, though her perspective does change as the events of the book shape her and those around her. 

This is a great book. It's calm and easy to read while taking multiple sharp twists just when you're lulled into thinking you know what's going on. The ending sets up for a sequel, including a "villain" whose intentions are righteous, which I would be interested in reading if it ever comes out, but it also settles in a way that you are free to come up with your own continuation.

I like the romance that starts between Hesina and Akira, her convict turned representative and friend. It's a slow burn that never takes over the plot and even when both sides accept it, the story doesn't focus on it any more than a small comfort to have an ally in the turmoil.

This book kept me guessing to the end and I'll admit, I was annoyed with myself for not spotting the villain sooner. There are several clues but at the same time, Hesina's insistence that it can't be true is enough to convince you of it.

There are a few points that feel a bit long but it also builds up the world, the history, and the crisis that is coming.

If you enjoy a light historical fantasy set in Chinese culture with mystery and treason and immortality, I recommend this book. Another thank you to NetGalley for an early copy. Remember to pick up Descendant of the Crane by Joan He on April 9th.
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Rating: 5/5 stars
I love books that focus on magic and political intrigue. It makes for some good drama when done right. 
I literally sped through this book and could not put it down. It is that good. 
Something else that I really love about this story is that it isn’t just about magic, royalty, and political intrigue, but it focuses on a mystery that the Queen must discover. And once she discovers the layers, could it ultimately break her?
The world building, the culture, and the characters were just done very well. The writing was amazing, and I just really, really loved this book. Definitely one of my favorites of 2019.
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recently i’ve been reading and reviewing a lot of asian-inspired fantasy books, and there’s so many more on my anticipated releases list, which brings me so much joy! to see all these new voices tell stories from their own cultures and have their characters be heard and seen by the world, especially by those who can finally see themselves in fiction is truly wondrous, and i’m so glad this is happening. i, myself, am not of asian descend, but i still really appreciate this small but important step in the publishing world and i hope that it continues to make way for more and more new voices to emerge and tell their histories and stories for the world, because it’s what they deserve.

i really wanted to include that in my review, because i’m not often so vocal about the topic of diversity, but i feel like i, along with everyone else, should be speaking up. there’s a long way to go, and i know that i also can be doing a lot more to support books by authors of colour, so i will continue trying to do better.

anyway, this blog post is about my humble onion (opinion, for those who are not on twitter) on joan he’s debut novel – descendant of the crane. it is a chinese inspired fantasy novel that comes out on april 9th and you should hurry up and pre-order it because it’s amazing.

descendant of the crane tells the story of a young princess, hesina, whose kingdom is shaken after the sudden death of her father, the king. hesina is certain that it was murder, not a natural death, thus, she pursues the truth through legal actions by opening up a trial. during the course of the trial, she uncovers devastating truths about her kingdom and her family, and her notion of truth and justice are thrown into a whirlwind as hesina struggles to regain balance with her emotions, and her unstable kingdom.

i know that description sounds pretty generic, but trust me on this – there is so much to this story that no synopsis can ever capture. i truly did not do it justice, as the book truly unfurls and blossoms as you’re reading. joan he has an incredible talent to keep your eyes glued to the page by providing you with just enough bits of information to tide you over while simultaneously teasing you with what’s to come.

we’re thrust into hesina’s world straight away, which was quite shocking at first, but it is done really well i must say. the way the author hands out information feels natural and everything is revealed gradually as we explore more and more of the world instead of it all being dumped onto us as a giant landfill of information. there is some confusion, at first, as there is with all fantasy books where the world is unfamiliar for the reader, but what’s important is that it does not appear unfamiliar. personally, i much prefer being thrown into a world with no context whatsoever, and then gradually learn what’s happening – which is exactly the case with descendant of the crane.

characters are all introduced in the same way – gradually and well spaced-out. as we’re at the mercy of hesina’s navigation, we meet the cast through her whenever the need arises for her to meet someone new. none of them felt flat or one-dimensional, as everyone had their own purpose to serve and own gains to pursue, which is quite important for a character – just because they’re not the protagonist of this story, does not mean they’re not protagonists in their own. we are slowly introduced and acquainted with all the people that hesina crosses paths with, and despite the third person limited, we see them grow and transform throughout the novel.

the same can be said about hesina herself – she changes radically from the beginning of the book, yet still manages to be true to who she is. i have to admit, at first she felt very detached and quite passive as a narrator, but as the story progresses, hesina, too, relaxes into the page. if at the beginning, you’re being kept at a distance, by the end the walls have crumbled and you’re allowed to step inside through the rubble.

another thing i really want to mention is how refreshing it was to finally see a princess who isn’t a rebellious teenager whose dream was never to rule a country. despite what the official synopsis says, hesina accepts the weight on her shoulders and accepts the responsibilities of the crown – something not often seen in ya fiction! she is unapologetic in her title, which i’m so here for.

supporting characters are usually not my forte and for the most part remain underappreciated by me, but i have to say, i fell in love with lilian. she was bubbly, but also sharp when she needed to be. her strength was subdued; joan he masterfully shows it through her clothing, which was such a nice touch – it teaches you that power is not only how you yield your swords, or your words. i just loved her character so much.

let me take this opportunity to also subtly hint at my intrigue by the crown prince of kendi’a and poorly concealed hopes we see more of him. if there is more. there has to be. (please)

the writing in this book is gorgeous and so well-done? i’ve mentioned previously how everything is revealed gradually, and the same applies to the writing style itself. it also manages to be quite straight-forward and incredibly poetic at the same time, which made is all the easier and more enjoyable to read. i sped through this book in a week – in between lectures and assignments, otherwise it would have been a day or two at most, it flowed that well. i don’t usually bookmark anything other than angsty ship moments, but i’ve so many highlights of truly amazing quotes from this book, just going through them makes me want to quit university and go beg joan he for writing advice instead.

as a political intrigue ho, i have to say i fell for all the complex threads of plot. honestly, a surefire way to make me like your book – make it angst and political. hesina is one bad b*tch when it comes to this, and i loved how she handled her court – especially xia zhong, that rat. akira, too, was awesome in his prosecutor ways that it almost made me want to pursue a law degree instead. joking aside, i really really enjoyed how joan he handles the politics in this book; it’s clear she has a knack for threading intrigue.

(i’m not going to talk about all the plot twists, i will need at least fifteen to thirty business to even begin the recovery process.)

overall, descendant of the crane is an incredibly powerful debut with a strong voice that is sure to take your breath away. the world is lush with richness, culture, politics, and compelling characters you’ll be able to connect and empathize with. i cannot recommend it enough, honestly, it’s real good. trust me on this and go add this book to your collection.
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This is a wonderful book full of awesome, strong women, family bonds, political upheaval, and so many plot twists that make you gasp out loud and want to cry! Hesina is the a character that the reader can watch grow throughout the story from a princess who isn't sure of herself into a queen who wants to save her country and will sacrifice herself to do so.
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Thank you to Netgalley and Albert Whitman & Company for sharing a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Descendant of the Crane gets ALL MY STARS. Everyone else can GO HOME. This is the only political fantasy I want to read for the rest of my life, and I need the next one STAT. 

First: That cover. I left the image huge so you all can see the gorgeous detail in the artwork. That color palette, the crane's beak intersecting the N, the Chinese-inspired style, ugh! It's so atmospheric and matches the book perfectly. Look, I'm not an artist, but even I know this is DAMN GOOD. 

Let's talk book! To put it bluntly, there's not a thing I didn't love. 

Characters: All so real! So, so fleshed out and I cared about all of them. I didn't know the pitch was Chinese Game of Thrones, so when someone got hurt, I was genuinely surprised and sad. Caiyan, Lilian, Akira, Sanjing: I MUST PROTECT. Excellent side characters, and usually I hate side characters, but these ones found their way into my heart. Their relationships to Hesina, each other, and to their kingdom were great to read about.

Hesina was an amazing main character. I respected her so much as a queen and as a daughter, and reading from her perspective was such a treat. The most important part about Hesina, though, was that she isn't righteous. She seeks justice in ways that bend laws sometimes. This whole book was an excellent exploration of morals, and how nothing and nobody is black and white. 

Plot: The political intrigue and mystery aspects were incredibly well-done. I loved the courtroom drama, and how clever everything was. Also, the plot twists! I was constantly surprised by the plot, and I was just along for the ride. I loved it. Predictable fantasy is the worst, and Descendant of the Crane is so inventive and refreshing. It sped up towards the end, and the beginning-middle is a bit slow, so that's my one quibble, but it doesn't affect the storytelling that much. Otherwise, it's a fantastic read.

World: I want to read so many stories about these kingdoms. I liked the foundation on the Tenets, which made the legal system super interesting, as well as social dynamics between the sooths and everyone else. Speaking of, I'd love to see more exploration of the sooths' powers. I found what was in the book fascinating and I think it'd be awesome to read a book focused on a character who was a sooth. I'd also like to see different kingdoms! I don't have a physical copy of the book (yet?), but a MAP would be fantastic. Basically, everything explored in Descendant of the Crane gave me twenty more questions and a burning desire to read everything by Joan He. 

Overall: Descendant of the Crane is in the running for my favorite fantasy of 2019. I love everything about it, and it hits 5/5 stars for me.
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First of all, can we take a moment to appreciate that cover? It is gorgeous! It is as gorgeous as the story. Young adult fantasy with a murder mystery twist. This book is indeed a Chinese inspired Game of Thrones. Hesina is a striking character. The cliffhangers and the twists will for sure keep you on your toes. Bottom line, I was not expecting the outcome of this book. I was utterly blown.
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Wow, this book was great. So many twists. A chinese fairy tale, something I probably wouldn't have normally read, but Joan He is a wonderful writer. Hesina, a daughter to a king, finds out that her father (king) didn't really die from natural causes and that she has to be Queen to find the truth. She hires an ex-convict to help her find out the truth behind her father's mysterious death. I do have to point out that some of the chapters are a little slow, but I still enjoyed it. The book just gets better and better, and let me tell you, this is not the end of this book, but rather another book to be written. Will I read the next book? Yes, I enjoyed this book. Thank you #netgalley for an ARC to read. #DescendantOfTheCrane
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I liked the concept of this book, the idea of a Chinese inspired fantasy world was great and I obviously loved the diversity in this book. I also thought the writing was nice and I did enjoy some of the characters. However, I found the main character and her love interest quite bland and I also felt the plot fell kind of flat, it was incredibly slow going for a lot of the book, and whilst there were some good twists towards the end, it was a bit too little too late for me. I also would have liked the world building to be a bit more fleshed out.
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Review as posted on my blog:

I read this book in a buddy read with my Discord server friends high five friends! The buddy read was already planned when Netgalley approved me for an eARC. I was so excited to start! DotC is described as the ‘Chinese Game of Thrones’. While I’m not actively participating in YARC (Year of the Asian Reading Challenge), I do want to read more books by Asian authors, and Asian inspired stories, which is why DotC came on my path at exactly the right time.

Trigger warning: gore, graphic injury, death (including parental death), torture, slavery, suicide

This book promises you magical family secrets, deep world building and intricate palace politics. And oh boy, it delivered.

If you know me, you know I love worldbuilding. This world was unlike I’ve read about, definitely not comparable to Game of Thrones. He’s descriptions of not only the world that Hesina lives in, but the objects, the smells, it’s the perfect amount. I haven’t had one moment where I felt it was too much information, never felt like it was just infodump. What He wrote is what the reader needs. There are sentences that seem unimportant, but the information will come back to bite the character in the ass.

Now, the characters and their relationships. The most prominent relationship in the story is between Hesina and her father. Hesina carries the burden of becoming queen of an unstable country while mourning the death of the one person that loved her as much as she loved him. He really captured Hesina’s feelings, whether it was anger or happiness or sadness. Not only in the emotions directed towards her father, but also towards Lilian, Caiyan, Sanjing and Akira. Every relationship was so fleshed out, it was explained who they were, how they felt about eachother, what they would do for eachother. You can’t help but love every one of them. Which is exactly what I did. It was like my feelings were stashed into a small box, which was then thrown off a cliff into a ravenous river that ends in a thousand waterfalls, because damn, you keep getting plottwists and then there this HUGE THING THAT HAPPENS that makes you fall off whatever you were sitting on when reading. I can usually smell a plottwist a mile away, but this one was such a surprise.

Something I absolutely loved about DotC is that Hesina’s fears aren’t diminished. She’s still a young girl, suddenly queen of a country, trying to solve her father’s death. Her feelings of ‘what if this goes wrong, what if I make a mistake and everything falls apart’ is so recognizable, for me it was during college regarding exams.. For Hesina it’s keeping the people she loves alive. Her fail of failure gave her an extra dimension and made her so much more real to me. The fact that Hesina does make mistakes and she needs to face the consequences are even more intimidating when you consider her mistakes have consequences for the entire country, not just herself. I needed this as a teen, to know that it was okay to make mistakes, that yes sure you need to face the consequences, but in the end,  it would be okay.

This book was amazing. I have to admit that it was a bit hard for me to get into it at first. I was a bit held back by some words I didn’t understand. Admittedly, I started reading when I had a sick pet and she wasn’t going to get any better. She was put down a few days ago and after that, I needed to distract myself. I started reading and within minutes I got sucked into the story and couldn’t put it away. It’s good I started reading during the weekend again, because it was 2 am when I finished it. I don’t regret one bit of it.
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I rarely ever give any book five stars, and this is even less frequent for YA books. However, I really think Descendant of the Crane deserves it. What I really think is remarkable is that this book was written when Joan He was a high schooler—I don't think I could even think of anything like this. 

One of the things that impressed me the most was the relationships between characters. The characters themselves and the relationships between them are wonderfully complex and beautiful. I can't stress enough how much I love Hesina and Sanjing, because they are related by blood, but they are both different and similar. Their love is painfully unspoken, and it's so real and familiar, especially as reflected in Asian cultures. I also have to say that although Sanjing doesn't appear that often, he's my favorite character. I don't really have a reason, but maybe it's because he's so sure of himself at first and he's extremely loyal to those he loves. Hesina is a complex and morally-gray character (yay!). She commits treason on the first pages of the book, but there's a reason behind it, as for everything. 

Hesina and Sanjing's adopted siblings, Caiyan and Lilian, are so so interesting. They each have a relationship with Hesina that is complex and changes so much by the end. A lot of this book focuses on Hesina, so we don't really get to see what other characters are thinking—that's part of the reason I love it so much. Hesina's relationship with her mother is also very interesting, even though they don't get along so well. Joan He forces Hesina (and all the other characters) to make really difficult decisions, and I absolutely loved that. 

I gotta talk about Akira. He's mysterious and morally-gray like Hesina, but I love how he wants to help her with her trial. I feel like their relationship wasn't really developed, although I'm also glad it wasn't the main focus of the plot, which is so refreshing to see. I thought he'd be more developed as a character, but I see the point of this and I'm perfectly content with that. All of the characters express their love for Hesina in different ways, and I think that's one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen in a book. There also isn't this one antagonist that Hesina must kill or defeat in order to "live happily." I love the ambiguity of it all, and how the bad guy isn't so physical. 

This book will be known for the plot twists, and believe me, they're not just your regular old plot twists. I've read some books where the twists seem out of place and not that important, like pulling things out of a hat, but Descendant of the Crane contains huge secrets that carry so much meaning. This is partly due to the setup and payoff the book has pretty much mastered. I was actually able to predict some of the twists, but I still think they're satisfying. Every event in this book has its meaning, even the ones that don't seem that important. They will have consequences. 

He's writing is beautiful and complements the events in the book so well. The tone is dark and rightfully so. The worldbuilding is the exact right amount and I love all the aspects of Chinese culture in it. I will admit, the formatting of the ARC was weird, so I'm anticipating seeing the actual format when the book finally releases. Oh, and I never buy books, but I had a gut feeling that this book would be amazing and preordered it.
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It's so odd to me that half the time I was reading this book, I was stopping to think about why I was still reading. In the end, I'm very glad I stuck through the stiff bits in order to see the wonderful twists. But it was really hard for me to slip into the narrative.  

I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into this book. The cover itself is a work of art, and I do love me an Asian-influenced world with a strong female character and great murder mysteries. But something was missing, and I can't put my finger on it. it might have been a case of 'it's not you, it's me', since so many people absolutely love this book. 

After the death of a king, his daughter is convinced it was murder. Hesina is determined to learn the truth, though now that she is a queen, solving a mystery comes with a lot of red tape. Quickly after the exciting beginning, which I was excited to read as I needed to know what happened, I found myself losing interest. I became less invested in it due to the one-dimensional characters and... the slow, slow plot.  

The characters slowly grew, but I never connected well with them. There were moments when the story started to get really exciting, but then the event was over and it slugged again. But then there came the twists: every one was brilliant and showcased just how skilled the author is at leading us on. The twist at the end made me excited for the sequel, despite all those slow moments. 

The worldbuilding was pretty brilliant as well, though there were little nitpicks that drew me out of the tale. it was the names: the "Investigation Bureau," for example, just had a weird ring to it. Maybe it was a direct translation of something that actually exists? But then the characters themselves had names that didn't fit the world, some being rather western. I mean it's fine, but when so much effort is put into crafting a world, it really sticks out. 

I'm honestly interested to see where book two takes us - I just hope it's a little faster paced than book 1!
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oh my....
this 
this book....
this was beautiful and so so captivating I was hanging onto each page like it was going to be ripped from my hands at any moment. Read this book, you won’t regret it. 
I’m still processing so that’s about all I can manage but I think that’s all you need to know—just read it. 

ARC kindly provided by publisher via Netgalley 
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**Thank you NetGalley and Albert Whitman & Company for providing me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.**

Descendant of the Crane is an absolute must read for 2019. It's a melange of complex characters, fiery story line infused with Chinese history and culture. The descriptions are so vivid and pay homage to the Chinese culture.

The plot is so complex, and the character development even more in depth. From one plot twist to the other, readers are left sitting on edge until the very end.

As a Chinese Canadian, I found this an interesting read that really made me realize the necessity of more Asian representation and authors. Joan He astounds reader with her amazing debut.
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Poised to ascend the throne after her father's sudden death, Princess Hesina of Yan suspects that his death was in fact a murder. Desperate to find more information, she consults a soothsayer - an act considered treasonous in Yan - who tells her that there is a convict who can help her find the killer. Meanwhile, even as she opens an investigation into king's death, the kingdom is much more unstable than Hesina realizes. The neighbouring kingdom of Kendi'a appears to be preparing for war, and there are traitors in her own court who might be working to incite conflict. As the investigation unfolds and some surprising and shocking facts begin to come to light, Hesina realizes she has opened a whole other can of worms that challenges everything she thought she knew about her father, her family and the very foundations upon which the country is built.

Despite the blurb, courtroom drama was about the last thing I expected from this book, but it was a pleasant surprise, just like the rest of it. It is far more sedately paced than the plot would suggest and consists of a lot of political maneuvering and court intrigue in a welcome departure from the action-packed fantasies that seem to have become the norm. Descendant of the Crane manages to build a complex world in a limited timeframe without taking away from the story itself. The background and history is beautifully crafted and it's clear how much thought has gone into the world building in particular which is largely inspired by Chinese culture.

Due to us getting only Hesina's POV, the element of mystery is enhanced as we try to figure out who can be trusted and where things are going right alongside her. The trial scenes in particular, were very well done and surprisingly intense. It was also very interesting to see Hesina try to balance her personal need for justice along with the task of being the queen the people need. I do want to point out though, that this might have been better off as an adult novel. It's a very heavy story in general for YA and in such a setting, it feels a little unrealistic to have seventeen year old generals and queens. I would have also liked to see more character development for Caiyan and Lilian, Hesina's adopted siblings. What little we got to see of their dynamic, I really liked, particularly how they are always there for and so supportive of Hesina. Finally, there was something missing in that romance, especially since the story revolves around Hesina, and Akira, despite being such an intriguing figure, has limited character development. It just didn't click and hopefully that changes in the sequel.

Overall, I was very impressed with this book, more so considering that it is a debut. The unexpected turn of events at the end completely took me by surprise - there had better be a sequel because it can't be left hanging like that! Descendant of the Crane is a wonderful debut with a very interesting setting and fascinating characters. The unexpected plot twists will keep you guessing right until the end in this refreshingly different fantasy novel.
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An absolutely breath-taking debut, Descendant of the Crane is a book that tugged at my heart-strings. Joan He doesn’t pull any punches at all, and just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, it does. Not to mention, her writing as absolutely gorgeous. She is definitely a talent to watch in the coming years. 

The world-building is incredible, and even better, Hesina’s core beliefs are tied in so completely to the world-building. And then to watch every thing that she thought she knew challenged. To see her brought literally to her knees, and then keep trying—it was an unforgettable ride. 

The characters were larger than life, especially Hesina’s father. Though he is dead throughout the book, his legacy and the mystery around his death are just so larger than life that it is impossible to not think of him as a main character, even more as you learn just how much his character is filtered through Hesina’s perceptions of him and how that breaks down over time—masterfully done. 

Anyway, this book is stunning and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy and likes a little bit of court intrigue, and of course needs an unforgettable and incredibly tenacious heroine in their life.
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This has got to be one of the best fantasy books I have ever read! The world building is so vivid that it’s easy to picture the details in my mind. The characters so life-like that I’m sure if authors could create real people, these would easily leap off the pages of this book. 

The chapters flew by as I had a difficult time putting this book down. At times, I was disappointed that work interfered with my reading time, and I couldn’t wait to immerse myself in the pages during lunch breaks. There is so much going on here, and going wrong, that I couldn’t help but worry about the main character, and hope that she would figure out what to do. It seemed like all her plans, while sounding good in theory, ended up thrusting her deeper into  the problems that went along with helping the wrong side. 

All I can say is, if you love fantasy books, read this one.
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This book would be good for adults who want to give their readers a new cultural perspective. I love China and historic fiction that draws on that culture, but I could never find myself engaged in the book or caring what happened. The plot never picked up enough for me, and while I understand that the culture and royal position would create a careful distance between the protagonist and everyone she speaks to, even those she felt intimate with were cold and disengaged. There were a lot of threads in this novel which never really came together for me.
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Descendent of the Crane started off extremely strong but finished very flat. I was really looking forward to this book but sadly it wasn't for me. I rated this book 2 stars because despite its strong start I found myself really bored and pushing through to the end with grim determination. 

The cover is absolutely stunning and the synopsis sounded amazing. The story and characters were well written until about 1/4 of the way through, which is where my enjoyment started to fade. I kept reading because I thought it would get better but it didn't. I'm sorry to say the book lost its magic 1/4 way and then did not recover. Overall the characters were poorly developed, the romance was so shallow (and seemed SO forced) and the plot completely fizzled out. The writing was jumpy and at times very confusing. It was hard to like the characters or engage with the story when it started to fall apart. I wasn't invested at all. 

Hesina, the main character, went from strong and pretty awesome, to whiny and very annoying. Her romantic interest is just there purely to be an attractive love interest. The romance was forced and not reciprocated for most of the book (awkward). I did not enjoy reading about it. 

I'm not sure if I read a different book to everyone else, who seem to be giving it 4 or 5 stars. Personally it wasn't enjoyable. It felt like a chore to me and that is not want you want. 

If you have similar tastes to mine I wouldn't recommend this book but I can certainly see how many others enjoy it. I think the characters and plot could have been developed more.
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"I wonder . . . if you will go down as a villain or a hero."

I... don't even know what to say or how to process all that went down, but the one thing running through my head is just "hell yes." This was such a refreshing start to a YA Fantasy series, and I am dying for the sequel.* Based on the premise, it honestly sounds fairly run-of-the-mill, but holy crap is it not. I was almost certain of the traitor(s) the entire time but kept doubting myself. This is such a juicy book, with so many twists and turns. SO GOOD. 

*although on the book's Goodreads page the author says it's a standalone with potential for companion novels and I'm... ???

Thank you to Albert Whitman & Company and NetGalley for the eARC! This review will be posted on Goodreads, and on Barnes and Noble's and Amazon's websites at the date of publication.
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This book is rather difficult to review because I thought of setting it down several times, as some parts were boring, but other parts were so amazing that I would expect this to be a 5 star read. I think my main issue is that I didn't feel much of an emotional connection to the characters or story, but the book's plot is so incredible that it should definitely be given a chance. This isn't a novel to be devoured quickly like I am used to as a book blogger, but rather it should be slowly savored so the true implications of some of the plot twists can really shine through.

I found the main character Hesina hard to relate with. I think part of the reason she was difficult for me to relate with is because there were many times where her actions were different from her internal thoughts, so I felt like she was a hypocrite. Since I felt such a disconnect there were times that I couldn't bring myself to care what happened to Hesina or the other characters. For most of the first two thirds of the story I found myself bored and waiting for the next exciting thing to happen. There were some really exciting scenes sprinkled throughout the book and they drove the entire story for me.

The plotting was incredible. There were so many great plot twists that really blew my mind. Some of the scenes were written so well and kept me reading throughout the first two thirds of the book. Once I hit the last third of the book I couldn't set it down, where in the first two thirds I had to push myself to pick it up. Once the pace finally picked up the book became absolutely mind blowing. I was glad that I had pushed myself to the end because all of the sub-plots came to fruition and the plot twists were revealed. The plotting aspect of this book was the best part and if my rating was purely based on the plot it would be 5 stars.

I had so many mixed feelings that made this book really hard to review because I really didn't relate Hesina or even like her that much despite the fact that she had a great character arc. I didn't feel very emotionally invested in the story and almost set it down at points. I'm glad that I continued on through because the plot twists and the climax of the book made the boring parts worth the read. A lot of this book dealt with political plotting, betrayal and issues of the country which I think is part of what really bored me, but all that plotting was necessary for the way the story was laid out. It is certainly worth powering through dull parts because the end was really worth it. 3.5 Stars

This book is rather difficult to review because I thought of setting it down several times, as some parts were boring, but other parts were so amazing that I would expect this to be a 5 star read. I think my main issue is that I didn't feel much of an emotional connection to the characters or story, but the book's plot is so incredible that it should definitely be given a chance. This isn't a novel to be devoured quickly like I am used to as a book blogger, but rather it should be slowly savored so the true implications of some of the plot twists can really shine through.

I found the main character Hesina hard to relate with. I think part of the reason she was difficult for me to relate with is because there were many times where her actions were different from her internal thoughts, so I felt like she was a hypocrite. Since I felt such a disconnect there were times that I couldn't bring myself to care what happened to Hesina or the other characters. For most of the first two thirds of the story I found myself bored and waiting for the next exciting thing to happen. There were some really exciting scenes sprinkled throughout the book and they drove the entire story for me.

The plotting was incredible. There were so many great plot twists that really blew my mind. Some of the scenes were written so well and kept me reading throughout the first two thirds of the book. Once I hit the last third of the book I couldn't set it down, where in the first two thirds I had to push myself to pick it up. Once the pace finally picked up the book became absolutely mind blowing. I was glad that I had pushed myself to the end because all of the sub-plots came to fruition and the plot twists were revealed. The plotting aspect of this book was the best part and if my rating was purely based on the plot it would be 5 stars.

I had so many mixed feelings that made this book really hard to review because I really didn't relate Hesina or even like her that much despite the fact that she had a great character arc. I didn't feel very emotionally invested in the story and almost set it down at points. I'm glad that I continued on through because the plot twists and the climax of the book made the boring parts worth the read. A lot of this book dealt with political plotting, betrayal and issues of the country which I think is part of what really bored me, but all that plotting was necessary for the way the story was laid out. It is certainly worth powering through dull parts because the end was really worth it.
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