Sunday, November 8, 2020

Book Review - "Descendant of the Crane" by Joan He

The book blurb describes this novel as "Chinese-inspired fantasy", but frankly, I would have liked for the cultural settings to relate to a real Chinese historical period and/or some real Chinese historical figures. Most of the time, I felt like reading contemporary fiction (because of the Western flavor of the dialogues and behaviors) set in a weird make-believe medieval world.

The story is about a (supposedly) Chinese princess who vows to find the murderer of her father but then finds herself entangled in a web of lies and betrayals during the investigation. When she's caught in a dilemma between upholding her subjects' trust and seeking redress for one particular group of oppressed victims (the soothes, or fortune-tellers), which situation is further complicated by the prospect of war with a neighboring state, she realizes that her ideals are useless and something has to give.

The first third of the novel moves at glacial pace, but picks up considerably about mid-way. But I was unable to feel connection with any of the characters and found the writing a bit disjointed.

I'm giving this novel 3 stars.

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