Fantasy, Thriller/Mystery

Descendants of the Crane by Joan He

Genre: NA, murder mystery, historical fiction

The synopsis

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.

The review

I finally managed to finish this book! And yes, that was hard.

First, I thought it was because I was reading it in Italian and that I just struggled reading in this language. But no no! This book was just utterly confusing.

First things first, the few points that I liked: the writing which was good enough to make you understand that you’re in an Asian-inspired world (even if I have a little comment about the use of Chinese words without any translation…) and the cover. Yes, that’s all…

This book was sold as high fantasy but apart from the soothsayers, I’m still looking for that dimension. The worldbuilding was quite poor with few different settings. And where were all the members of Hesina’s court??? She’s always alone, making decisions alone, going from point A to B alone… The other characters were one dimensional and difficult to remember since they appeared once in a while when it was convenient for the plot. And Hesina… Oh gosh… she sometimes acts like the queen she has been trained to be her entire life but most of the time acts like a spoiled and immature brat, taking selfish decisions and then crying when their consequences can be seen.

Concerning the plot, I think the author just wanted to do too many things at the same time: romance, murder mystery, politics and betrayals. But it reaches a point where you don’t know what the plot actually is and all is left is the feeling of incompletion (or even no feeling at all for what concerns the romance). Just as an example, the politics. Joan He begins to create a complex court with various ministers and dynamics but then abandon them: I still have no clue about what is happening inside the court, what the ruling process is, what are the relationships of the country with its neighbours. The only country we discover a bit is here as a sub subplot (or is it a sub sub subplot?) and to add another element to the soothsayers issue.

And I would love to say that the end saved the book but surprise! no… The author is saying this book is a standalone because Hesina’s story is complete at 80%. I say the only plot that is closed is the murder mystery one, and not in a Shakespearian way.

In brief: this book was quite a disaster. Everything was blurry, without clear logical links between the plots and elements. If my ranking is not lower it’s just because the beginning wasn’t bad, the writing style okay, and the cover georgeous.

My rating: 2.5/5

6 thoughts on “Descendants of the Crane by Joan He”

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