Descendant of the Crane eARC Review

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Tyrants cut out hearts. Rulers sacrifice their own.

Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, dreaming of an unremarkable life. But when her beloved father is found dead, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of a surprisingly unstable kingdom. What’s more, Hesina believes that her father was murdered—and that the killer is someone close to her.

Hesina’s court is packed full of dissemblers and deceivers eager to use the king’s death for political gain, each as plausibly guilty as the next. Her advisers would like her to blame the neighboring kingdom of Kendi’a, whose ruler has been mustering for war. Determined to find her father’s actual killer, Hesina does something desperate: she enlists the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by
death, since magic was outlawed centuries ago.

Using the information provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of Yan at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?”

It’s rare that I find myself so completely infatuated with a book. I gush about a few, sure, but I mean this one was the sort that from the first chapter you knew you were reading something quite amazing.

Not only does it engage you in the first chapter but there was not one character that I wasn’t completely interested in, there were no slumps or any boring filling, it was pure gold from start to finish. Usually, I do a pros and cons list when I write a review on my blog and this time the cons will be superfluous ones. I’m sure there are faults but anything that might have stood out to me didn’t due to beautiful prose and quite talented world-building skills. But more than anything, Joan He had a way of making you feel for her characters in a way that I really hadn’t in probably over a decade of reading.

This isn’t a ‘Chinese-inspired Game of Thrones.’ This is an amazing work of fiction all on its own, He’s story is her own with no shadows of GoT and she can clearly stand on her own two feet without such a comparison needed. I would dare say her story even had more heart than GoT and I’m a big fan of those books, but really, Descendant of the Crane is this incredible fantasy book that contains the sort of world that we don’t have enough of in books.

Hesina was relatable the whole way through, even if you didn’t agree with her decisions, you could completely understand why she made her choices. The love between her and her father also made me super emotional at times to the point where I was like ‘who is this person reading this’ I can connect with books and I’ll feel things lol I’m soulless [inserted another ginger joke, go me], not emotionless, but, it was just the exact sort of feelings I could connect with.

Pros:
– I love every single one of those nuggets in the book
– Mei kicks so much butt
– Hesina and her Father’s love
– Hesina and her siblings
– The politics are pretty much exactly the kind of horror you’d imagine in their time or our own, it’s very believable to the readers (well, to me)
– Akira

Cons:
– Could have been more Akira
– THAT ENDING THO (It’s not a con, just an OMG)
– Why wasn’t this book longer?
– My Soul is broken
-What do you do to me, Joan He?
– This book will destroy your soul and break your heart (maybe her and Wilson talked about the ways they could break hearts while writing their novels, Idk)
– Omg my heart

^ These are notes from my journal while reading it. So, take what you will, I really couldn’t come up with cons for it.

This was my first read for YARC2019!! Yay! And man what a great first read for the challenge! Also if you’re like ‘man I need to read this book now, here’s my info about what you get if you Preorder: Descendant of the Crane Preorder [Note: Bookmarks are all gone but you receive 5 character cards instead of four as compensation for the bookmarks being gone. Also, depending on when you read this, this offer may no longer be available, but as of me writing this on March 15, the preorder was still live and the form open. This giveaway is open internationally and does include library requests!]

I felt honored in being able to read an eARC of this and I’m grateful for the chance to read such an amazing book. This was also my first buddy read and it was a lot of fun! Of course, this is all my own opinion and others will not feel the same but, I stick by what I’ve said. It’s quickly been shelved on my favorites on GR and I will be closely watching for anything else Joan He will come out with from now on.

**I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion**

 

The Bird King eARC Review

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– …Fatima, a concubine in the royal court of Granada, the last emirate of Muslim Spain, and her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker. Hassan has a secret—he can draw maps of places he’s never seen and bend the shape of reality. When representatives of the newly formed Spanish monarchy arrive to negotiate the sultan’s surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, not realizing that she will see Hassan’s gift as sorcery and a threat to Christian Spanish rule. With their freedoms at stake, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan and escape the palace walls? As Fatima and Hassan traverse Spain with the help of a clever jinn to find safety, The Bird King asks us to consider what love is and the price of freedom at a time when the West and the Muslim world were not yet separate.

So you all just saw this yesterday, but, surprise! I’m waiting until Saturday to review Descendant of the Crane and I have another review already scheduled for tomorrow, so here we go, two days in a row of The Bird King.

I really couldn’t explain why I liked this book as much as I did, I mean other than because in my opinion it was a really good book but if I were to give out a list of reasons, I’m not sure what would go on those. Wilson has a flowery sort of prose that’s really lovely to read, so that’s one, but I think the main reason would be because her characters are so beautifully human (the ones that are human!).

They are beautiful, selfish, ugly, kind, pious and sinning, and they are wonderfully flawed each and every one.

Think about it, a protagonist who is selfish but yet selfless and it isn’t grating on your nerves or made to feel fake. That said, I think it’s great because Wilson has decided to give you a protagonist that you can choose to love or hate but that will still make the story powerful.

The antagonist is frightening because of just how real they are and I always find those always make the best ‘villains’ the ones that are too plausible.

Fatima’s best friend Hassan is gay, and in the 1400s, well, it was the sort of thing the Inquisition could ‘get you’ for. But more than that, as I don’t want to spoil anything I’ll not say more about Hassan, there is this great feeling of fluidity when it comes to the sexuality of the characters.  I would say Fatima herself is maybe even more pansexual than anything? [Think Jack Harkness, she likes what she likes, but this isn’t really a romance novel]

^ Speaking on that last []^ It was a freakin’ BLESSING for me to read a story that didn’t try to force a romance down my throat, I mean with Descendant of the Crane that book was amazing, start to finish, and did its romance right as well but I’ve had this slump with people trying to force romances [I’m looking at you Ready Player One] and this was great for me. You are getting to know a different sort of love. A love of a friendship that just made my heart swell.

Wilson writes a fanciful historical fiction set during the Inquisition, the Spaniards, Granada, a Jinn (or more possibly? No spoilers), monsters human and not, adventure, loss, and the price of freedom with the worth of freedom as well. Poignant and with such a feel of humanity for better or worse, this book was well worth the read.

I would say that you have to be ready for this book, to go on this journey because I think if you’re not ready for it, it might be the reason it’ll drag for you.

I know some complained about pacing but I think because I like this sort of pacing in novel it wasn’t an issue for me, I didn’t think it went slowly but you do go from a sort of ‘frantic’ part to I guess could be seen as a lull but to me it was still on the edge of my seat type of thing. The Bird King is beautifully written and it was another great read for me, so, it’s been a nice group of great books.

I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

**Content Warning:** Death, violence, and the chance the book will rip your heart out and stomp on it. But you know, no biggie.