I saw this book cover all over Instagram, I was immediately intrigued and I had to know more. Once I read the description it wasn’t what I was expecting at all, but not in a bad way. This novel constantly surprised me with all its mysteries and twists and had me hooked.
Descendant of the Crane follows Princess Hesina of Yan shortly after her father’s, the king’s, death. Convinced that her beloved father has been murdered, she pursues the crown in order to push for a trial to uncover the murderer. With her country on the verge of war, Hesina does everything in her power to protect her people as well as discover the truth about her father’s death, even if some of her methods are questionable in the eyes of the law.
Throughout the novel Joan He does a great job of showing the reader what is going on, and world-building through the characters without always explicitly going into detail telling us this information. Straight away we’re thrown into the world where the king has already died and Princess Hesina is committing a treasonous act visiting a soothsayer for help. I really liked Hesina from the start, she is fiercely loyal and headstrong. In fact, I really liked all of the characters and thought they were all really well written. I could happily read a novel about any of them, especially the twins, Lillian and Caiyan and Akira.
Most of the fantasy novels I have read are usually in a European (of sorts) setting. So, it was very refreshing for this novel to be in an East Asian fantasy setting, in fact, it added to the fantasy element of the world as it’s a unique setting. I found all of the politics and how Hesina and her family navigates it really interesting. It would have been nice to see more of the magic elements of the world, but I do understand that it wouldn’t have quite fit in with this particular plot with how the society viewed soothsayers.
There were so many twists to the story that you genuinely didn’t know how the novel would end for Hesina and the rest of her family. Whilst I really enjoyed these twists, and they would cause me to actually gasp at times, towards the end it did begin to get a little confusing for me to follow. Although the story as a whole felt pretty complete, there are some aspects that feel open enough to be revisited in a sequel and I think this novel would really benefit from having a sequel too.
I really enjoyed this novel and I’m thrilled that the beautiful cover matched the story inside. This is a great fantasy novel and I really hope that He writes more about this world, as it’s one that I would love to explore further either through these characters or others. Regardless of what He decides to release next, I will definitely be picking it up and I recommend you do too!