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Descendant of the Crane

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  7,604 ratings  ·  2,133 reviews
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,
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published April 9th 2019 by Albert Whitman & Company
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Joan He It's a standalone with the potential for companion books! Two currently exist in my head, narrated by new characters but also featuring the old, and c…moreIt's a standalone with the potential for companion books! Two currently exist in my head, narrated by new characters but also featuring the old, and continuing the storyline started in DESCENDANT OF THE CRANE.(less)
Joan He I'd have to say the interaction of character and plot! I love reading a unique plot, and brewing up twists and turns in my own, but what I love most i…moreI'd have to say the interaction of character and plot! I love reading a unique plot, and brewing up twists and turns in my own, but what I love most is designing each beat of the story to maximize character PAIN (and occasionally happiness :) ).(less)
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874 books — 3,137 voters
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Average rating 3.64  · 
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 ·  7,604 ratings  ·  2,133 reviews

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chai ♡
Me, while sipping apple juice out of a champagne glass and gazing dramatically into the distance: I've had enough of cliffhangers...

What an ending! Such a succession of shattering revelations that sent a wave through my room so strong that I felt its ripple and was rocked on its mooring. Such was the churn and whirl of my thoughts and feelings that I was genuinely incapable of putting two ideas in a row, let alone come into any kind of conclusion—other than that I desperately need a sequel.

Emily May
Nov 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, fantasy, young-adult, 2019
“Tonight, we fell victim to fear. We let it blind us. We thought we were hunting monsters…”
She stared out into the sea of flame-washed faces. It took all her strength not to look away. But we were monsters.

Descendant of the Crane was a really pleasant surprise. It's actually one of the better, more creative YA fantasies I've read, taking influence from Chinese culture and exploring morally grey areas in a story full of political machinations and twists. I hope this book doesn't get buried un
Joan He
Oct 18, 2017 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
12/25/20 Happy holidays everyone! Some of you might have heard about Hesina's Imperial Court, the street team I originally organized for this book in Nov 2018, and some of you have asked how to join. Well I'm happy to announce that signups have re-opened for a limited time :) More details can be found here. The group's primary focus will be on my next book for the immediate future, but membership is for "life" and you'll get access to the entire archive of DOTC things too. Good luck to those who ...more

I talked about this on the live show for Books With Friends on Spence's Channel!

Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Youtube | Twitch
Jun 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
oh, thank the literary gods that the beauty of this story matches the gorgeousness of its cover. there is no greater relief, im telling ya.

this story is everything everyone is saying it is. its culturally rich, stunningly written, masterfully plotted, and cleverly wrapped up. i really enjoyed reading this! with all the twists and turns along the way, it is quite the adventure. its a very high-quality debut and one i hope the author is extremely proud of.

so if this is so great, how come i didnt
Vibur (hiatus)
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've always thought of writing as like gardening. The words rooting in my mind. Sentences and paragraphs growing together, sprouting others and more. And sometimes not. Sometimes refusing to break through the concrete blankness, like now.
How do I put to words everything that is Descendant of the Crane? I feel as if anything I write would be a disservice to this novel. To all that it encompassed and to all that it brought out.
The thing is, I like to nurture what I’ve written over time—tending to
May 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019-reads, dnf
DNF at 50%.
• Read for Books With Friends

I thought I was going to love this one but unfortunately it just didn't work for me. It had a really strong start and I absolutely loved the Chinese inspired world, but the writing didn't flow well, the pacing was off, and I couldn't connect to the characters. The premise sounds amazing but unfortunately I was bored reading this.
May 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
“What is truth? Scholars seek it. Poets write it. Good Kings pay gold to hear it. But in trying times, truth is the first thing we betray.”

⭐️⭐️ ridiculous stars

Instagram | rant on youtube


Buddy-read with the wonderful Ana or attempted to. I, unfortunately, DNF'd it at 75% because I couldn't take the abuse anymore.

I think the YA fantasy genre is saturated with average books that are blending in my mind. I stopped reading the Descendant of the Crane and already, I'm mixing it with multiple,
Nov 21, 2018 rated it liked it
This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription

Actual Rating: 3.5 stars

“What is truth? Scholars seek it. Poets write it. Good Kings pay gold to hear it. But in trying times, truth is the first thing we betray.”

🌟 I have read this book months ago as I had an ARC. This of course does not affect my opinions on this. I don’t know how much this review will be helpful in the first place because I remember only bits of it!

🌟 The story takes place in a Chinese inspired co
Umairah | Sereadipity
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
Plot: 5/5 Characters: 5/5 Writing: 5/5

The Descendant of the Crane was an intricate Chinese inspired fantasy full of treachery and about a relentless hunt for the truth. I was constantly in suspense and it kept me guessing until the very last page.

The writing was exquisitely vivid, each word weaving a net that captured my attention and didn't let go. Sometimes, I even felt as if I were a part of the story. The first half of the book was quite slow-paced, gradually building up and setting the scen
julianna ➹
towmtf update: well, i read joan he's next book and i hated it ... so basically right now i am hardcore questioning my past self's taste !!!! literally can't even trust my past self to give my current self good recommendations... god

why am i crying in the club right now????? how dare you joan (i think this might be one of my favorites of 2019) (it was)

instead of a traditional review, here's reasons why you should just read this book
🌸 joan's writing is so, so gorgeous and it creeps into your
May 09, 2019 marked it as to-read
honestly, I can not wait
Elle (ellexamines)
Oct 28, 2017 marked it as tbz
Shelves: x-coverporn
oh my god the cover

⭐️⭐️⭐️Chinese-inspired Game of Thrones!!
may ➹
Sadly, I did not love Descendant of the Crane as much as I thought I would. The entire first 57% of this book before the first plot twist happens was slow and utterly boring, and it was a chore to get through. Perhaps the slow-moving plot would have been more interesting for me to read if I’d been given anything else to care about. The characters were interesting, and I did really like the sibling dynamics. But overall, I thought they lacked dimension and I felt little investment in them. Some w ...more
Natalie Monroe
“I thought you knew the rules of the game, my dear.”

So did I, Xia Zhong. So did I.

My biggest quibble with Descendant of the Crane is that it was marketed as a Chinese Game of Thrones. I love the moral complexity and political intricacies of GoT, and He's book was listed as one of Leigh Bardugo's most anticipated reads of 2019, so obviously I applied for an ARC. Sadly, just like King of Scars let me down earlier this year, so did this book.

Hesina is a terrible schemer, alright? In terms of th
✨    jami   ✨
Aug 28, 2018 marked it as to-read
Shelves: anticipated-2019
this cover is prettier than me but im ok with it

also this is game of thrones but with chinese influence and probably will be coming out more reliably than actual got so like ?? whats not to love ????
Dannii Elle
Initial Thoughts: Just been approved for an e-arc of one of my most anticipated 2019 releases!! This cover combined with the Chinese-inspired A Game of Thrones comparison has me anticipating great things from this one.

Review: Tyrants cut out hearts. Rulers sacrifice their own. From this very first line of the synopsis I knew this was going to be the book for me.

A well-conceived costume is a new identity. From this very first line of the actual book I knew I was going to be immersed in all the po
lily ☁️
My smol Asian heart is doing a happy dance, because I’m a Baroness at Hesina’s Imperial Court!!

Have you ever seen a book with a cover that so effortlessly transcends all human concepts of beauty, and, moreover, has a synopsis to match its outer beauty’s magnificence with equal brilliance?

// buddy read with Tiffany 🌺

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April (Aprilius Maximus)
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
"Of course, heroes cannot be forged without villains..."

I REALLY enjoyed this. It is absolutely FULL of twists and turns, with stunning writing and super intriguing characters and a centuries-long fight against prejudice and discrimination.
The one thing that peeves me off about this is that it's marketed as a standalone when it is SO OBVIOUSLY NOT a standalone. The author has stated that she has companion novels lined up but the publisher is probably waiting to see how successful this first
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, netgalley
3.5 stars

Thanks to Netgalley and Albert Whitman & Company for a digital galley in exchange for an honest review

This little gem may have escaped my notice if I hadn't seen a list of highly anticipated YA novels for 2019. Reeling from the death of a beloved father, the teen regent Hessina is hell bent on finding the person or persons who may be responsible. Plenty of twists and lots of back stabbing betrayals ensue and it isn't long before Hessina wonders- who can I trust?

There is potential l
Anja H.
Nov 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: asian-influences

“What is truth? Scholars seek it. Poets write it. Good Kings pay gold to hear it. But in trying times, truth is the first thing we betray.”

Damn! I really wanted to love this, I truly did.
The comparison to a Chinese-inspired Game of Thrones had me so hyped!
And it all started off really well! There were so many plot twists, both predictable and unpredictable ones. The writing was phenomenal, can’t say anything bad about that. The world-building couldn’t have been better and w
Rachel Hartman
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this one a lot and can vouch for its awesomeness!

If you liked my first book, Seraphina - particularly the politics, palace intrigue, and mystery - then I'd encourage you to give this one a try. Courtroom drama! Philosophy! Meditations on what it means to be a just ruler! To say nothing of the fact that Joan He really knows how to finesse a plot twist; I typically see these things coming a mile away, but she kept me guessing (and the final one just pulled the rug out from under me) and
Aimee ♥ | Aimee, Always

more thoughts when my brain stops reeling from this madness!


this is chinese-inspired!!!!! yay for more representation of my culture 😍


Hafsah Faizal
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A gripping tale full of intrigue, unpredictable twists, and betrayal—this is the Chinese fantasy readers have been waiting for.

Hesina is what many of us girls once were: obligated to age before our time, to take on roles we should not have had to bear. It's a reality many girls of color are forced to endure, and it was as refreshing as it was bittersweet to read. Hesina, royal by birth, does not take all of her newfound responsibilities without struggle and without a hefty dose of mistakes, and
destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
Eventually — EVENTUALLY — I will defeat this terrible YA fantasy slump and learn how to enjoy life (and my ARCs) again. But... alas, today is not that day. I'll pick this back up ASAP, though. ...more
Vicky Again
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
5 stars

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 inste
Maggie ☘
Oct 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: high-fantasy
3.5/5 stars

Descendant of the Crane was overall a great début, the last part of the book was very captivating, but I think it would've benefitted from being grittier and slightly more mature, aging up the characters a few years, focusing on the moral ambiguousness of characters and situations that were already presented here, only filtered through the genre it was written for.

The last sequence of the book was really good, and if there is a sequel (which there needs to be b/c that was no ending at
Tucker  (TuckerTheReader)

Many thanks to Albert Whitman & Company for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

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laurel [the suspected bibliophile]
Hesina becomes queen after the death of her father, and is determined to find his murderer. But there are truths that do more harm than good...

Do you ever feel like you read a completely different book than everyone else?

The summary for this was incredibly intriguing—billed as an Asian GoT, with twists, turns, politics, war and feminist agency, I was beyond hooked. And all of the reviews from my Goodreads friends had me psyched and ready to rock on the hype train.


This was not the book for me
Dani ❤️ Perspective of a Writer
Check out more reviews @ Perspective of a Writer...

The Buzz

A reluctant princess becomes a queen of a Chinese-inspired kingdom so she can investigate her father's mysterious death. There is politics, a courtroom, outlawed magic and drama with a neighboring nation. SIGN ME UP!! The premise alone sounded dynamite...

And I mean come on... there were 5 star ratings coming out left and right waaaaaaaayyyyyyy before the release date because readers were loving it so much. In fact, I didn't see one nega
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Joan was born and raised in Philadelphia but still will, on occasion, lose her way. At a young age, she received classical instruction in oil painting before discovering that stories were her favorite kind of art. She studied psychology and Chinese history at the University of Pennsylvania and currently writes from a desk overlooking the city
waterfront. Descendant of the Crane is her young adult d

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