Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

Hello! After taking a few weeks off blogging and reading, I’m finally back. The thing is I got ill for 2 weeks. It was terrible. I thought I had the plague or something. Haha! But I am all better now and I managed to catch up with my reading.

This week, I finished Joan He’s debut novel, Descendant of the Crane. There’s a lot of buzz going around this book. This is understandable considering the enticing and intriguing premise of the story. It sounded something that I would enjoy so I requested an e-arc over at Edelweiss and I got approved.

Descendant of the Crane is a Chinese-inspired murder-mystery mixed with fantasy and riddled with intricate politics. One of the things that stand out about this book is its world building. I love it. It’s consistent, solid and beautifully crafted. Another thing is the writing style. Joan He weaves magic and it pulls the readers in and delivers them into an entirely new world.

Personally, I thought the characters were well-written. I can see why this book is pitched as a Chinese inspired Game of Thrones. While the story has certain convoluted politics, I think it’s largely due to the fact that there are no good or evil characters in this story. What they have are motives and I enjoyed that aspect very much. Hesina is one of the flawed and complex characters I’ve read. Her growth throughout the book is remarkable and I cannot wait to see what’s in store for her on the next one.

The weakness of Descendant of the Crane for me, though, is its pacing. I was having the time of my life reading the first half of the book. But after that, most parts are jarring and repetitive. And so it lessened my total enjoyment of the story. The romance is also an issue for me. It felt shoehorned for some reason. I didn’t feel any emotional connection between Hesina and Akira. I’m beginning to think that romance should stay out of fantasy genres altogether. I mean, seriously.

Joan He constructed gripping and powerful twists and turns, which would keep the readers on the edge of their seats. I’m sure anyone who loves a good murder-mystery would thoroughly enjoy Descendant of the Crane. I also enjoyed the scenes in the courtroom as well as the treachery. There are many pleasant and unpleasant surprises in this one.

For the most part, Descendant of the Crane is an enjoyable book and I think it has so much more to offer in terms of revealing the lore in the story and fleshing out the characters. If you’re looking for a diverse, dark and brutal murder mystery story set in Asia, this book is for you!

I’d like to thank Albert and Whitman & Company and Edelweiss for providing an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Mia is a book blogger from the Philippines. She loves to read fantasy and adventure stories. She isn't reading, she's most likely watching Gilmore Girls for the nth time or some Korean drama she finds interesting at the moment.

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