Descendant of the Crane by Joan He: SO. MANY. TWISTS.

5 stars

Princess Hesina of Yan has just become queen after what she believes was her father’s murder. Yet, investigating the suspicious circumstances comes with a cost, namely treasonous magic from a soothsayer. Hesina must navigate both her own personal investigation into the murder, as well as the political games inside the imperial court and outside given the rising tensions with the neighboring kingdom of Kendi’a. Solving her father’s murder might just come at too high of a cost, and Hesina will have to decide how far she’ll go for justice.

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Don’t forget! Descendant of the Crane is also out on APRIL 9th as the pub date was pushed back a week. Still, very excited for my copy to come!

For the first time ever, I experienced blogger-writer’s block for this review.

I read this in October or November and spent five months writing this. It’s not super long or anything, I just have no words that will do this book justice.

I could write a one-sentence summary of this review right now, and you can turn around and preorder this book instead: Descendant of the Crane is one of my all-time favorite books, and you should buy/request/read it.

It’s just fantastic, and there are so many things that just make this book work. But still, I will try to give you ~reasons~ why you’ll love this, not just tell you that you will.

The first thing I need to say is


That ending? And then the ending after that? And after that? He really pulls out all the stops with this book, and the sheer number of twists and turns have me screaming. And it’s been like 5 months and I still can’t stop thinking about them.

They’re just…so iconic. Throughout the book, He pulls out these twists and in the first second you read it you go “HOLY $#!@” and then you think a little bit about it and go “whoa that was set up well how did I miss it???” (then again, I am generally bad at guessing twists but these really blew me away, more than normal!)

I felt like He really set them up well, and this book is so smart? sharp? and really executes the twists in an elegant manner. Wow.

The entire plot is so intricate and tightly put together.

This ties in a little with the last point, but this book is like dominoes in a line. It’s one thing after another and everything is so put together and the scenes are all very important. Skip one scene and the dominoes stop. Add too many in, and it doesn’t work as smoothly. He did some careful maneuvering to get Descendant of the Crane just right.

Descendant of the Crane features an intricate plot with both a huge murder mystery as well as so much political intrigue. There’s court trials for the murder and the politics is mixed in, as the traitor may lie somewhere in the court . . .

Plus, there’s also politics with another country (I definitely hope to see more of this in a potential sequel if it happens) and I was devouring it all.

I do think that if you’re someone who is very meh about twistiness and politics, you might want to pass on this, but I do want to note how Descendant of the Crane does not sacrifice voice & character development. In fact . . .

I absolutely adore the characters.

Sanjing is 100% my favorite, but Hesina is probably the best out of all of them.

Hesina is a force. She basically has the entire weight of the world on her shoulders and is trying desperately to just stay afloat while everything is coming crashing down around her. She’s got so many hard decisions to make (like, where does she draw the line in committing treason?) and it feels very real to the reader (aka why I cried so much. College is a hard decision, hmmm).

I thought the way He portrayed Hesina’s sort of tumble and crash built up really nicely, and is part of why I loved this story so much.

Even more than this, the characters have motives. Goals. Desires. I loved reading how He put this on the page and really revealed this through some of their actions. It felt like the characters had agency and weren’t being puppeted around, and I really liked that.

(Plus, I have an interview with some of the characters coming this Wednesday so keep an eye out for that!!!)

I love how it examined morality.

One of the biggest themes in Descendant of the Crane, in my opinion, is morality and how it ties into sacrifice. If you’re doing a bad thing for a good cause, how far will you go?

I think Descendant of the Crane really portrayed this question well and showed a lot of different paths to achieving something (some of which I cannot spoil). The way the story questioned this really made me think about what I would do in Hesina’s position, and I loved how the story sucked you in this way.

Overall, I cried. Descendant of the Crane made me cry. No less than 3 times.

I just adore this book so much and it’s one of my favorites of all time! I want to hug the characters to my chest and make sure they’re all happy and thriving.

I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to everyone, but especially if you like

  • tightly plotted stories
  • interesting politics
  • murder mystery
  • characters who are Stressed But Trying Their Best
  • a rich world and a fantastic book and OMG THOSE TWISTS

Thank you so much to Joan He for sending me an advance reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review!

Have you preordered or requested Descendant of the Crane from your library?

19 thoughts on “Descendant of the Crane by Joan He: SO. MANY. TWISTS.

  1. DUDE this sounds EPIC!! I was at first interested in this because of the overall hype but now i’m like I NEED IT. I adore this review so much and admire you for like articulating your thoughts because it’s so hard when you love a book so much and try to sum up why and how it was so amazing! I’m going to do a library preorder soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. it’s SO EPIC and yesssss i’m glad you like my review!!! it was so hard to write ngl but I hope it did a little justice to the book <333 I HOPE YOUR LIBRARY GETS IT SOON & YOU LOVE IT

      Liked by 1 person

    1. awwww omg thank you so much that is so sweet of you to say!!! and yes this is one of my favorite reads ever so <33333


  2. So, so glad to hear that you loved it. I requested this way back in December and just now the publisher emailed me back like “You still interested?”

    I am so excited!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. oh omg that’s so cool of them though! that’s amazing and I hope you love it, Tucker! it’s one of my fav books of all time

      Liked by 1 person

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