Descendant of the Crane by Joan He
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 engages 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 and alluring 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.
I ended up really loving Descendant of the Crane. The second half of the book was so freaking good. And good luck putting it down with the last 20% or so.
There is a lot to take in early in the book. I had to read it slower because of this. The second half goes by quickly though. I will do my best to review this, but there is a lot that I can’t talk about without ruining the story.
The Yan followed the Tenets of the Eleven. The Elevens were outlaws that breached the imperial walls and beheaded the emperor on his throne. They wrote a book called the Tenets which contained their thoughts/rules on certain things. The Yan followed these Tenets after. They also killed the Sooths. Sooths had unique blood that burned blue. They could often times see into the future and some had strong enough magic to change things before it happened. The Yans hated Sooths and thought them evil and below them.
Hesina’s father was the king and he recently died. Hesina believed he was murdered and visited a Sooth, even though that is treason. She confirmed that the king did not die a natural death. She explained to Hesina that she would have a convict represent her at court. Hesina was to be the next queen and she couldn’t open an investigation until that happened. She wasn’t sure she was ready, but this pushed her to make it happen right away. Her mother, the queen, wasn’t even living there. She left for the mountains and wasn’t back often. There are also issues with small villages disappearing and a possible war on the horizon.
Jing is Hesina’s younger brother. He is part of their military/fighters and not around often. He and Hesina don’t get along well.
Lilian and Caiyan were adopted by the king. Caiyan and Hesina are very close and he becomes her first advisor. I love Lilian so much. She loves fashion and is a lot of fun. She’s kind and loves both Hesina and Caiyan. She also feel sympathy for the Sooths like Hesina does. The twins were adopted ten years ago. Jing has never really approved of Caiyan or his gentleness.
Hesina’s father had an affair with Consort Fei, and as a result, Rou is her half brother. He is another character that I adored. Hesina blamed Rou for her father’s infidelity and never accepted him. But he never gave up hope and always called her Sister.
Akira is the convict that Hesina needs to represent her in court. He also proves to be a great fighter and knows a lot about poisons. Hesina finds herself trusting him, even though he’s had a not so great past. And as usual, I find the bad guy to be a favorite character. I’m not sure what is wrong with me, but I loved Akira. He and Hesina fought well together and he helped her through everything.
While searching for the truth of her father’s death, Hesina learns secrets about her parents, the tenets, the eleven, the sooths, and basically everything she thought was true. There is so much betrayal and Hesina has to figure out who she can trust. There are some twists and the ending was so good. I desperately hope there will be a book two. I need to find out what happens.
Warnings for slavery, death, violence, and prejudice from multiple people. I was surprised by how political this was, in a good way. While it’s fantasy, I did see similarities to some current situations. There is a lot of corruption and lying.
Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss for my copy for review. I’m also part of Hesina’s Imperial Court (Joan’s street team) and she sent digital copies of the book to all of us. None of these influenced my review.
Early on, I thought this would be a 4 star read, but the second half of the book pushed it to 5 stars. I really ended up loving it and cannot wait to read Joan’s next books.
Have you read Descendant of the Crane yet? Is it on your TBR?