Descendant of the Crane

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 enlists 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.

  • 416 Pages
  • 5.5" x 8.25"
  • 9780807515518
  • April 2019

Buy from Albert Whitman

  • 416 Pages
  • 5.5" x 8.25"
  • 9780807515495
  • September 2020

Buy from Albert Whitman

  • 9780807515501
  • April 2019

Other Places to Buy


  • Descendant of the Crane is my favorite kind of story: lyrical, romantic, politically complex, but most of all, driven by an iron-willed heroine who will do what must be done—no matter the cost.

    - Kristen Ciccarelli, internationally bestselling author of The Last Namsara

  • A beautiful debut with thrilling politics and strokes of magic, set in a lush world that feels real and weighted with its own complex history.

    - Lori M. Lee, author of the Gates of Thread and Stone series and contributor to A Thousand Beginnings and Endings

  • Joan He has penned a lovely and intriguing tale of secrets, family, and betrayal. You’ll be drawn in by this marvelously vivid world…and keep turning the pages for the plot twists!

    - Traci Chee, New York Times bestselling author of The Reader

  • Deep world-building, magical family secrets, and intricate palace politics—Descendant of the Crane soars from page one. Its twists and treacheries kept me guessing until the very end.

    - Rachel Hartman, New York Times bestselling author of Seraphina

  • Hesina is a heroine for the ages––brilliant, determined, and fierce. It is impossible not to root for her.

    - Laura Sebastian, New York Times bestselling author of Ash Princess

  • The plot twists are truly dizzying at times, and everyone, from villain to ally, has an intriguing backstory . . . With complex worldbuilding and character development, readers tired of cookie-cutter stories will find some surprise twists here.

    - Kirkus Reviews

  • A compelling, immersive book. Young adults will find a story and a world that is a joy to explore in this highly original mystery.

    - Foreword Reviews starred review

  • A fully realized history helps make this adventure, rooted in Chinese folklore, feel epic, while Hesina’s fierce determination will appeal to contemporary readers.

    - Booklist

  • [A] fast-moving debut…He combines a highly detailed Asian-inspired culture that incorporates Chinese names and traditions, aspects of top-notch thrillers, and complex characters to create a series opener that should appeal to teens and adults alike.

    - Publishers Weekly

Awards & Accolades

  • The Best Young Adult Fantasy Novels of 2019, Forbes
  • 2020 Chelsey Award for Best Cover Illustration Finalist


  • Accelerated Reader Points: 16
  • ATOS Level: 5.4