Title : Descendant of the Crane
Author : Joan He
Genre : YA fantasy, historical-fiction
Release Date : April 9th, 2019
Publisher : Albert Whitman
Tyrants cut out hearts. Rulers sacrifice their own.Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, dreaming of an unremarkable life. But when her beloved father is found dead, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of a surprisingly unstable kingdom. What’s more, Hesina believes that her father was murdered—and that the killer is someone close to her.
Hesina’s court is packed full of dissemblers and deceivers eager to use the king’s death for political gain, each as plausibly guilty as the next. Her advisers would like her to blame the neighboring kingdom of Kendi’a, whose ruler has been mustering for war. Determined to find her father’s actual killer, Hesina does something desperate: she enlists the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by
death, since magic was outlawed centuries ago.
Using the information provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of Yan at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?
“What is truth? Scholars seek it. Poets write it. Good kings pay gold to hear it. But in trying times, truth is the first thing we betray”
I’m going to be frank here, but Descendant of the Crane veered off my initial expectations. And while I tended to dislike books that has different content from my expectations, this wasn’t the case with DotC. Set in an ancient-china-look-alike, Descendant of the Crane managed to exceed my (albeit different) expectations, with all the twists and turns and dramas that Joan He included in this book.
When I first saw this book, I thought it was gonna be another fantasy book where the main characters, Hesina, turns out to be a soothsayer in a world where soothsayer are hunted. But no, this book is more about political and court drama that ensue after the previous king (and Hesina’s father) was killed. Hesina, the crown princess, suddenly found herself became queen, while at the same time trying to figure out the mystery surrounding her father’s death. Not to mention, Hesina also has to deal with corrupt court members and tension from neighboring country. Definitely not an easy job for 17 years old girl.
From the very first page, I admire Hesina. I didn’t always agree with her decisions, but also I’m not sure I can even make a decision if I’m in her position. Fortunately, she have a lot of help from her her adopted-sibling, Caiyan and Lilian. Eventhough they are twin, they couldn’t be anymore different. Caiyan studies a lot and often help Hesina in court matter, while Lilian is a designer. Hesina also has an actual brother, Sanjing, who serve as her general. Her relationship with Sanjing was a bit rough due to some problems, but it’s actually my favorite part from the book. They didn’t always agree with each other and argue a lot, but that’s what sibling is. There’s also a subtle romance between Hesina and Akira, aka the convict criminal who helps Hesina in finding her father’s murderer.
As I mentioned above, Descendant of the Crane is also packed with twist and turn that will make you wonder how Joan He could write something like that. From the so-called backstabbing court members to the mystery of the king’s death, I will guarantee that you won’t see it coming. Even if your ‘suspect’ turns out to be right, the motives will blow you away. Another aspect that I enjoy is the trial regarding the king’s murderer. It actually reminds me of Law and Order (I watched many episodes of it, after all) and it’s really fascinating.
The only reason why I gave this 4.5 stars instead of 5 is more like a ‘me’ problem. I heard that it’s a standalone book but to me, it was unfinished and not in an ‘open-ending’ way. Sure, the murder-mystery is basically done, but the revelation brings another problem that’s even larger than the murder. I really hope that Joan will continue it someday. Other than that, this book is basically perfect. I love every single moment of it, and I have a feeling you will too.