"Deep world-building, magical family secrets, and intricate palace politics—Descendant of the Crane soars from page one. Its twists and treacheries kept me guessing until the very end."—Rachel Hartman, New York Times bestselling author of Seraphina
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 enlists 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.
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Average rating from 286 members
Joan's debut is fast-paced and beautifully written with cinematic prose that drew me in from the beginning. Being a Chinese-American reader, I was extremely happy to feel myself represented among the pages.The twist at the end also strongly asks for a reread of the entire book, as the way it comes together in a murder mystery style narrative compelled me to go back to the beginning and look for the hints and clues that were dropped along the way before the revelation. The characters were consistent all the way through, never acting in a way that felt like contrived. I believe that is a lot of merit in classroom discussion for this novel, especially in comparison to other big YA fantasy titles, such as Children of Blood and Bone, where we see similar tropes of a tragic hero and found/biological families. Hesina's siblings brought upon a dynamic that I loved, which made the third act even more heart-wrenching. This book could also be taught along Six of Crows for its expansive world and cast of characters.
Descendant of the Crane is one of my favourite books of 2018.! It was so riveting that even when I had to put it down I couldn't stop thinking about it, and was eager to dive back in. It featured everything I love about fantasy - complex characters, rich world-building, and surprising plot twists. He painted a vivid picture of the world, so much so that I felt fully immersed in the story. It was so easy to root for Hesina the main character, in fact all the characters were interesting and layered. The writing style was also beautiful and it flowed really well. Overall, a very addictive read!
This book was added to my NetGalley shelf during finals week, which was unfortunate for my studying productivity level because I became completely engrossed in the world of Descendant of the Crane. Joan He is an excellent storyteller, and her balance between attention to fine detail and general plot pacing is extremely well done. As a half-Taiwanese American, the symbolism and nods to Chinese history, politics, art, and culture were particularly enriching. I especially enjoyed the side characters--each has a distinct, fleshed out personality and readers can readily empathize with the cast as plot twist after plot twist unfolds. I plan to incorporate this book in my college-level young adult literature course curriculum. Its portrayal of a largely uncharted historical period in the young adult genre lends to excellent discussion about emerging diversity in YA. Additionally, the aestheticism steeped in Joan's rendition of the Chinese imperial court can be compared and contrasted to the predominantly European aesthetics popular in mainstream YA historical fantasy/fantasy novels, such as Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. Descendant of the Crane does not disappoint. It has enough delicately woven twists that are easy enough to follow, yet complex enough to surprise. The political statement it makes is relevant to contemporary issues despite being embedded in a historically inspired setting. I look forward to holding a physical copy of the book in my hands this April so that I can ogle the gorgeous cover even more.
When Princess Hesina of Yan is thrust onto the throne as Queen after her father's death, she declares a trial to seek the truth and must race against the clock before an innocent pays with their life. As the trial unfolds Hesina realizes that everything she has known is not what it seems, that she and her family are apart of something much bigger than she could have ever imagined, that those closest to her aren't who they appear to be, and not every villain is black and white. Seeking justice for not only her father, but the one's who now call her their Queen, she sets out to carve out her own fate and create a better home and future for her people. Descendant of the Crane is a Chinese inspired fantasy chalked full of betrayals, court intrigue, family dynamics, twists, turns, revelations with a side of swoons! The majority of the book is planning and plotting to get everyone in their places and around 70% is where I couldn't stop reading and had to know what was coming next (bob and weave because those reveals will fly at your head!). Debut author Joan He has carved out a nice little nook in the YA Fantasy world and if you are a fan of Chinese inspired fantasy or just fantasy in general, this will easily fit into your book world too. Releasing April 2, 2019, start marking those calendars!
I enjoyed this story very much. I finished it within the course of two days, and not because it was a quick read. I read it because the characters were unique and the Chinese infused storyline was intresting. There were many plot twists that I didn’t see coming. I did figure out one of the characters, Akira, pretty quickly but he was still one of my favorites. I wish I had the same level of support the main character Hesina possessed from her family and friends, including those related to her through blood, adoption and a shared parent. Positive aspects aside, I found a few grammatical errors sprinkled throughout the story that were somewhat distracting. Its nothing that a decent editor can’t fix and certainly shouldn’t discourage a potential reader from requesting it. Because people really should read this! It was a very good book that left me reeling from everything that had happened and anxiously awaiting a sequel. It did end on a somewhat small cliffhanger, but I was okay with that because a character I had previously felt betrayed by redeemed themselves and because the ending made me want more. I’m confident that those who read this will not be disappointed.
I'll probably write a longer review of this later and post it to my blog (I'll add a link later). I thoroughly enjoyed this book! The characters and their choices seemed realistic (if sometimes questionable) and the relationships that develop throughout are full of depth. Deception at every corner and a teenage Queen trying to forge her own destiny while upholding the memory of her father are fodder for a fantastic story line. My FAVORITE part of this story is the setting. The Chinese culture with which this story is built is fantastic and not one I've readily seen in fantasy or young adult literature. Even the descriptions of clothing, ceremonies, food, and social interactions were delightful and enlightening, adding to my own understanding and knowledge of China (I read some interviews and know she made some changes to make it more appealing to a modern audience, which I think may have been a good choice). Overall it was a wonderful read. Felt a bit choppy at the beginning but it was like the beginning of the roller coaster when you're slowly going up and then you crest the top and BOOM you're in for a ride!
Pursuit of the truth and justice leads to some unexpected and unpleasant discoveries in Joan He's Descendant of the Crane. Princess Hesina Yan has been an eager learner but far less eager of taking up the responsibilities of rule that her education has been leading her to. With the untimely death of her father, Hesina is thrust into power as the queen of a kingdom threatened with various tensions from without, from competing nations, and within, from her family, advisors, and people. Determined to find her father's killer and seek justice, Hesina seeks out the aid of a soothsayer, despite the treason behind such an act, and opens up an investigation with a skilled convict as her foreseen representative. Bringing to light far more than Hesina bargained for, the facts she learns makes her question her, and her peoples', belief in the tenants they abide by. A tale of intrigue focused on the manipulations common within an imperial court made political intrigue far more accessible to younger readers by conveying it through the perspective of the young and fresh-from-coronation queen. With world building that feels complete, yet also allows for further growth that would feel organic, the story gains a complexity that is believable, particularly when coupled with the missteps and growth that Hesina experiences on her pursuit for the truth. The relationships portrayed throughout the novel vary but all remain complex and realistic, including familial strain and trust, grudging acceptance with a strong mistrust of motives from advisors, and reliance upon the strengths of others despite a sense of independence. Though the story does reach an acceptable ending, the openness of the ending and the shift of perspective in the epilogue begs for more information to resolve some larger questions that arise. Overall, I'd give it a 4 out of 5 stars.
Billed as a "Chinese-inspired Game of Thrones", this title certainly didn't disappoint. Full to the brim with intrigue, betrayal, court drama and unforgettable twists. Lavish and breathless, this is a must read.
A whirlwind of political intrigue, forbidden magic, assassins, and found family, DESCENDANT OF THE CRANE is a must-read. The pitch of ‘Chinese-inspired Game of Thrones’ rings true. I was impressed by the way that author Joan He handled her court drama, balancing it with a wonderful wealth of characters, world-building, and intrigue. I enjoyed being able to piece together the puzzle, and was happily thrown by various plot twists throughout the novel. I can’t wait to see what is in store for the series! 5 out of 5 stars.
Wow. Let me just take a few deep breaths and process what just happened!! I was very lucky to be approved for an EARC over at Netgalley - and I am so grateful that I did. Had I known what a gripping ride I was in for - I could have prepared myself. I am going to find it hard to describe how much I adored this book. I was gripped to the story the whole time I was reading it, especially the last few chapters - I couldn't sit down!! Descendant of the Crane follows Hesina, a Yan Princess - on a mission to find out who murdered her father (no spoilers as this is in the blurb!). The story follows this process and all of the trials, deceit, betrayal and adventure that comes with it. The world building and scene setting was incredible. Such vivid and beautiful descriptions provide the backdrop of this wonderful world. So much culture is to be found on the pages of this book. I have learnt so much. The characters were well developed and complex. There are so many twists and turns with the characters that I couldn't keep up (in a good way!). My heart was broken and rebuilt many times throughout this story. My favourites are Hesina, Lillian, Mei and Rou (my love Rou!!) and of course Akira. I won't go into detail as to why, but you will find out when you read the book *which you MUST* Roll on April when I can own a hardcover edition of this fabulous book. The cover is beautiful and captures the intricacy of the story very well. Thankyou thankyou book world for allowing me to read this book pre-release. Everyone, you must read this book!
The complex family, the lush world, the twisty plot - this was everything I hoped it would be. The world building was my favorite part. It was immersive without being too wordy, and it pulled me in from the very beginning. I am AMAZED.
This book was not meant to be an easy fluffy read. This book is going to bring out ferocity, anger, pain, and sadness. It is wonderfully written and beautifully poetic. Each character has a back story that unfolds in ways you aren’t expecting. You root for one side then switch as you find out more and more. While I began with a dislike of the main character I think that was supposed to happen? As the book progresses she got less naive. Perfect for fans of fantasy, retribution, and magic. But be forewarned that this book will destroy you with each page and require some serious reflection before you can move on.
This book hit on a lot of the things I love in fantasy, and in books in general, and ended up being one of the stronger books I read at the end of last year. I loved the characters and I enjoyed the story and I’m excited to read more of Joan He’s work in the future. Forbidden Magic. This is one of those things that I absolutely adore, partly, I think, because it adds to my fantasy that magic is in fact real and is just being hidden from me and I will one day discover my magic powers – just me? Ok. But I enjoyed the way that this played out as part of the narrative, the idea that Hesina needs to use magic to find out what to do but is aware that to do so could cost her the throne and the good favour of her people. Law. I could just as easily type ‘lore’ because the two are very much one and the same in this book. Each chapter starts with an excerpt from ‘the Tenets’ written by one of ‘the Eleven’ and treated as the law books for the kingdom. Not only did I enjoy how that element of worldbuilding played out in the book (no spoilers), but I also enjoyed how the characters twisted and manipulated the tenets throughout the story. Quite often, particularly with books that concern royalty the law is something that is often ignored with the justification of ‘I am the monarch and I can do what I want’. In this case, Hesina has to learn to use the law to her advantage and it makes her place as a piece in a wider game feel so much more powerful and interesting. Detective stories. I haven’t read a good detective story in a while (though I’ve watched quite a few) and I’d forgotten quite how much I enjoy them. Akira is a great character who I think many readers will delight in. While this book isn’t a detective story in the traditional sense, there are a lot of elements of that in there, the overarching plot is driven by Hesina’s desire to find her father’s killer. Again, I enjoyed how this played out, with many twists and turns throughout the story. I will say that the addition of fantasy elements makes this even more fascinating. I had a wonderful time reading this book, and I have no doubt that many others will feel similarly. I have (shamefully) read very few Chinese-inspired fantasy books and this has definitely encouraged me to seek out more of them. If you’re looking for something new to read that has heaps of politics, dodgy dealings, royal conundrums and a dose of magic then I would suggest you order a copy of Descendant of the Crane. My rating: 4/5 stars I received a free digital advanced review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
When I saw that I was approved for this arc, it made my eyes sparkle. At least, that's how it felt like to me. This book is literally too high quality for this world. I want to assimilate it into my being and find a way to apply all of Hesina's qualities and knowledge into my life. Who is Hesina, you ask? Oh, just the main character of this story WHO IS A CONSTANT REMINDER THAT GIRLS ARE BEAUTIFUL AND ETHEREAL AND I AM A PILE OF INCOHERENT SEAWEED WHEN IT COMES TO THAT. This story is heartstopping and unique. The plot centers around gorgeous and complex cultures and addresses important discussions in today's world. Asian inspired game of thrones is being thrown into early reviews and I can testify to that. The strong world-building and carefully-crafted characters set us up to care even more when the action really kicks in and lives are threatened. It is the very opposite of the "mindless action scenes" I have been complaining about recently in fantasy novels. I cared so deeply about the characters that the action scenes were extremely tense and terrifying. All in all, this is a sweeping epic tale that has complex and detailed world-building that is seamlessly integrated into the story which I loved!! Sooo when can I get Joan He's next book?
Descendant of the Crane is easily one of the prettiest covers I’ve seen in my life, and I cannot wait to see it in print. We’re told not to judge books by their covers but you can go right ahead because this story is just was beautiful and constructed as it looks. It took me a little time to settle into Hesina’s narration but once it settled, I was completely sold. Descendant is lovely and brutal and unforgiving all in the same breath and I can’t wait to read the next one!
I think Descendant of the Crane is going to be one of my favorites of 2019. The world-building in this book is masterful and the characterization is so well-done. This book is totally immersive - I could hardly put it down. I pre-ordered a copy the second I finished the e-galley, just so I can read it again in April when it releases.
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.
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.