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 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.
|Netgalley||eARC||416||Titan Books||Fantasy/YA||June 16th, 2020|
Yonks – that’s how long it took for me to chase this book. I wanted it. For its cover, for its blurb, for its vibe. Hell, even the title was appealing. I finally got it, thanks to Titan Books and Netgalley. Was the itchy chase worth it? Well, yes and no.
Maybe it’s the young adult factor in the genre that leaves me a bit wanting for more, maybe it’s the fact that what I expected was not at all the reality of this book. Hear me out…
The start was promising what with the characters coming across funky and fresh. Not to mention the princess turned queen who takes the investigation into his father’s death as her first task. As always, court intrigue will promise traitorous weasels and misplaced trust. There is also the matter of sooths – essentially, they’re the kind of folk who can do magic, and are witch-hunted. So, there’s your outcast from the society covered, too!
But. But, but, but. All the intrigue ended for me there. I would have LOVED to get MORE of the Chinese-culture. There is, indeed, mention of clothing and such but.. that was kind of it? I was hoping for more of a cultural feast for the mind, however, for me, the story could have taken place anywhere at any court. I am not trying to be mean, I just feel like there’s a whole vibe here that did not bounce off the page quite like it potentially could have.
Hesina herself had all the lovely qualities- heart in the right place, stubborn where need be, passionate for her cause and so on. But here’s the crux, I KNOW that she’s passionate for what she believes in, I just didn’t feel it. The other characters were interesting as well – Hesina’s brother (I think he had more of the spunk in him to fit a ‘sticky’ character, but hey-ho), the adopted twin siblings. I mean, the more characters in the book, the better because you never know then whose betrayal will hurt the most, aye?!
The plot and story itself, while having interesting substance, felt draggy. Maybe the mystery was trying to deliver too much. That said, there did appear a few major twists making the story memorable. But those elements that I found mega-interesting from the twists – they didn’t feel like BIG things. hmm… I don’t know… Also, same can be said for the awkward boy-gazing Hesina found herself doing and never really following through on. It felt pointless, the admiration of one without ever actually capitalizing on same. It felt awkward when it appeared (I groaned when I got the teen hormones make me do it vibe) and at the same time it was over as suddenly as it was mentioned.
I do not regret my time spent with the book. Otherwise I would forever be wondering ‘what if’. Would I recommend it? Sure, for the reader who likes the gentle roll of a mystery of a king’s death, a bit of action to follow the fate and destiny of the soothsayers.
But let me circle back to the good – court intrigue is always, well, intriguing. There’s betrayals and sacrifices like one wouldn’t believe and Descendant of the Crane delivers on just that. While Hesina didn’t impress me quite as much as other fantasy heroines, I do have to give kudos to her character for following through on what she intended and for choosing right thing over the profitable one. Make no mistake, there is an interesting premise here. I feel like if there was to be a sequel, so many more elements of the story could be blown into bloom!