Book Review #20: Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

    When I first heard about this book, excitement could not even describe what I felt about it. I have always wanted to read a book about Chinese court drama because as a little bit of a history nerd, there is so much going on in Asian history like in European history. So, I wanted to see Asian influences on the politics of this story. This story impressed in some aspects but also failed on others which I’ll get to now.


Yan Hesina ascends to the throne following the apparent murder of her father. Hesina opens up a trial in search of her father’s murderer with the help of a convict with a rod. However, Hesina’s naive world view is going to have to change. Around every corner there are betrayals and painful lessons to learn.

If Hesina chooses to continue down the path she is heading down, she’s going to have to sacrifice those closest to her and her own ideals. It’s time for Hesina to choose who she is trying to become and who she is trying to save. If she doesn’t choose, she may lose everything closest to her.


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 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?With war brewing, Brienna must choose which side she will remain loyal to: passion or blood.


     So there’s a lot to say about this book. I liked it a lot, but it didn’t always meet up to expectations. That being said, there were so many parts of it that I absolutely loved. 

Starting off, I actually liked the quietness of the book. There’s no real fighting or any violent conflict. I don’t think that’s a weakness of the book at all. In fact, I loved the fact that the book focused on the politics of the story because I felt like it was a refreshing twist from what I usually read. Not all heroes have to have swords to be brave or strong.

However, where I do feel that the book failed in this aspect is that the pacing is so slow. There’s so many drawn-out sequences and sometimes it’s drawn out for far too long in my opinion. It also takes a long, long time to get to the real meat of the story, which I think is ample time for readers to stop reading. This is really a shame because the story has so much potential.

I heard some qualms about the main character, Hesina. On some cases, yes, she doesn’t make much sense with her decisions. However, she is in a very tough situation. As queen, her decisions can literally decide the fate of her country and so she does make weird decisions under that pressure. It’s hard to expect her to make rational decisions when she’s in so many irrational situations. On another note, I love her development even though she doesn’t grow to be a morally perfect character. If anything, she goes from a black and white character to a gray character which I really liked. She’s naive in the beginning, spoiled even, but turns into a more cautious person by the end. She understands that there will be times she will have to make terrible decisions, and that she has to make them to protect those she loves.

I will say, however, her relationship with Akira is strange. Towards the end, everything about him is revealed, but I feel like it’s just too long to reveal all of that. There’s also the fact there’s just not enough development between the two to justify how they end up. It just feels too awkward to me for me to appreciate it.

A big qualm I have about this book lies in the ending. There’s so much slow buildup that towards the end, everything felt really rushed. It’s all smacked into the reader’s face, and an accusation made at the end just baffled me. I did not understand why a certain character did what he did even after He tries to explain it in the following chapter. It just made zero sense to me.

In spite of that, I still loved this book. Something about the Asian inspiration and the lovely writing appealed to me so much. I really recommend this book, because it has some really strong foundations even with its faults.



Barnes and Noble 


Joan He

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