Title: Descendant of the Crane
Author: Joan He
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
My Rating: 2.5 stars
“Knowledge is truth, Little Bird.”
I had a really hard time getting into this one, and I’m not really sure why. I think there were a few things going on: first, that the characters didn’t have enough depth and I was struggling to connect with them, and second, the plot had too many loose threads that lasted too long and not enough happened in regards to each. The investigation into Hesina’s father’s murder was interesting, and the conflict with their rival nation involving the missing towns had promise, but the pacing was off and we were left with a frustrating mix of passages that moved too quickly followed by ones that felt repetitive and that moved too slowly. As far as the murder trial went- the whole legal system seemed questionable; the representatives are appointed randomly and don’t seem to have to meet much for qualifications, which is explained away as a way to give everyone equal chances, but the way it was all supposed to work didn’t make much sense to me.
– “books and snuff bottles, goblets and costumes, medallions and wedding locks”
– a murder trial, a pretty unique magic system (that wasn’t explained very well)
– none of the characters stand out
– couldn’t connect with the characters or story
– plot was a bit all over the place and had too many little things going on at once with minimal resolution as they progressed
I felt disconnected from the story throughout, especially the romance. The author threw in hints here and there about a potential match, but there was no real build up beyond the characters getting butterflies when they were around each other. I really wanted to get invested in the story, but between the flat characters and a mishmash of a plot, I constantly found myself getting distracted while reading and having a hard time focusing on the book at all. There’s also a magic system that is barely explained, history and conflicts that are skimmed over, and a MC that acts in inconsistent ways and was, frankly, not that likeable. Hesina has almost no power despite being Queen, and it gets really frustrating when she makes bad decision after bad decision, constantly losing ground.
“Memories are short. History plays out in cycles. Tables turn; the sufferers rise and make their oppressors suffer. This is simply human nature.”
I did like that there was no set line between right and wrong or good and evil, and that the different sides blurred as the story went on. There was no clear enemy, and each person made decisions that could be seen in a positive or negative light. I think the author had a vision and tried to do something great with this story, but it just never lived up to the goal or to its full potential. All the elements were there, but they weren’t expanded upon in the correct way, and the final product left much to be desired. I went into this expecting to love the story and the characters, so it’s very disappointing that I didn’t enjoy this nearly as much as I thought I would. There is another book coming, but at this time I’m not invested enough in the story to consider continuing with the series.