Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

Release date: April 9, 2019

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? 


HELLO I NEED THAT SURVIVOR’S BADGE ASAP. I deserve an award for withstanding all the emotional jabs at my thoroughly battered heart.

Descendant of the Crane is dubbed as the Chinese Game of Thrones and even though it didn’t have dragons and beasts wrought from ice, it sure had a female protagonist as fierce as Daenerys herself and court intrigue seemingly orchestrated by someone of the Lannister blood (or any shrewd character from ASOIAF for that matter).

I can’t say that this book is perfect but I can confidently declare that this is one worthy of noble songs to speak of its glory.

(where did all the poetry come from??? I absolutely have no idea)

At first, I thought the pacing of the story was slow and my brain was full of question marks because I SURE HAD A LOT QUESTIONS, SUSAN. When I finally had answers, I screamed soundlessly and clawed at the remnants of my broken heart.



It has been a long time since a book fed my inner sleuth and it is finally thriving. Hesina searches for her father’s murderer and I couldn’t help but suspect everyone, (including the potted plants and that unassuming passerby on chapter two) because ‎the mystery is just THAT gripping.

There’s also an elaborate legal system in this book which is quite rare in fantasy. There were trials, witnesses, trickery and all the other headache-inducing court scenes but I ENJOYED EVERY WORD OF IT. Look, I read tons of adult crime fiction novels before I discovered YA and the court trials were always what I looked forward to. I need more of them in YA okay??? ok

• ‎I love the dynamics of the characters even though I spent 100% of my reading time being suspicious of them all. This is the life of a would-be detective. I’M TRYING SO HARD TO ACTIVATE MY SHERLOCK-NESS HERE.


I especially loved Hesina. She is the conflicted-yet-stabby queen of Yan who will stop at nothing to give justice to her father’s death. She’s both fragile and ferocious and I admire her so much. Her determination and will also called to me and I wanted nothing more for her to succeed. Her journey through treason, bloodshed, hurt, and betrayal is nothing if not difficult and I want to give her a lot of hugs and chocolates.

There are still a LOT of characters you need to meet and it’s up to you to judge and love them all.

‎Joan He is a writing genius. This book has a lot of surprises and I can’t even imagine the amount of plotting and scheming she put into it. Descendant of the Crane also has principles of law and science in it which made it more realistic despite of its fantasy setting.

• ‎Well hello there, court intrigue! Descendant of the Crane is full of political conflicts and machinations which made it an even more thrilling read. As a bookdragon, I really love books with political subplots because they’re a battle of influence and wit. This book gave me that and more.

I did have issues with the pacing of this book because at first, it was slow and I wanted something MORE. I wasn’t disappointed though. The plot twists on the second half made my heart jump like an overly-excited kangaroo. Thinking about it now, I can say that I also wasn’t completely sold with the romance subplot. Akira and Hesina’s relationship wasn’t as developed as I hoped and I think they would have been better off as just friends. It really felt like a one-sided romance to me because Akira appears to be denser than salt water. I just found it difficult to ship him and Hesina is all.

Despite its imperfections, I still think Descendant of the Crane is worthy of five stars. I really enjoyed reading this book and it reawakened my mystery-loving heart. It has also been a long time since a book made me think this much. The complexity of the plot plus the way Joan He handled it deserve applause and praise. This is the Asian-inspired fantasy we deserve. Trust me on this.

DESCENDANT OF THE CRANE WILL BE OUT ON APRIL 9! YOU CAN STILL PRE-ORDER IT NOW. Joan has an amazing pre-order campaign and you don’t want to miss it.

(I may also have an author interview coming up so stay tuned 😉)


Is Descendant of the Crane in your TBR? Do you love reading murder mysteries? If yes, what are some of your favorites?


  1. I’m typically not a mystery sorta folk, but I’ve heard so much good hype about The Descendant of Cranes and I am a total sucker for epic, complex fantasy. SO READY FOR THIS. The world definitely needs more kickass Asian fantasy!!!


  2. Great Review!!! I just bought this book, plan on reading it next month (studying to do) Glad you love it cause we all need some Asian Fantasy in Books not only in movies


  3. Love your review! And omg yes we all need survivor badges! My heart still hasn’t recovered 😭💔

    Lol weird thing is that I felt the pace was perfect from the beginning.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad to hear that the pacing worked for you from the beginning! I’m really excited for more people to read this book. We can’t just suffer alone right???


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