Descendant of the Crane by Joan He: Review

Descendant of the CraneRating: 4/5
I received this free ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

“…we fear what we don’t know.”

Princess Hesina of Yan finds herself thrust into a tricky political world after her father dies and she takes the throne as queen. In an act to discover more about her father’s death, she seeks help from a soothsayer- one who practices magic. In a kingdom where magic and the people who practice it are outlawed, this action pushes Hesina down a path where she discovers that much of what she thought she knew might not be true. With the help of her remaining family and Akira, a mysterious convicted criminal, Hesina strives to make sense of her father’s death while also exposing the flaws within the court and the prejudices of her own beliefs.

Joan He knows how to take readers on an emotional roller coaster. Throughout the twists and turns in Hesina’s story, I found myself switching alliances and trying to guess at the mysteries sprinkled into the story. There were moments where I was genuinely shocked about a well placed plot twist. Though there were plenty of surprises as characters showed their true nature and plots were uncovered, none of it felt forced or untrue to the story that we were being told which made for an enjoyable read.

Hesina was a believable and likable character, her reactions and actions made me want to cheer for her. The characters all felt fleshed out enough that I found myself imagining their goings on after the book ended. My one critique would be the pacing. The beginning of the book seemed to drag with pockets of action that had me picking it up again after having abandoned it for a few days. I often found myself confused about how much time had passed between scenes. Once I reached the halfway mark, however, I wasn’t able to put it down. It also wasn’t clear when a new scene was beginning but this was most likely a formatting issue that has more to do with the fact that this is an ARC than the author’s writing.

I would definitely recommend this once it is released (April 9th 2019)! Joan He mentioned that there’s a possibility of companion novels told from different points of view which I will be picking up as they are released.

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