Published: January 11, 2022
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Series: The Celestial Kingdom Duology #1
Pages: 512 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 4.5/5.0
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
A captivating debut fantasy inspired by the legend of Chang’e, the Chinese moon goddess, in which a young woman’s quest to free her mother pits her against the most powerful immortal in the realm.
Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the feared Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. But when Xingyin’s magic flares and her existence is discovered, she is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind.
Alone, powerless, and afraid, she makes her way to the Celestial Kingdom, a land of wonder and secrets. Disguising her identity, she seizes an opportunity to learn alongside the emperor’s son, mastering archery and magic, even as passion flames between her and the prince.
To save her mother, Xingyin embarks on a perilous quest, confronting legendary creatures and vicious enemies across the earth and skies. But when treachery looms and forbidden magic threatens the kingdom, she must challenge the ruthless Celestial Emperor for her dream—striking a dangerous bargain in which she is torn between losing all she loves or plunging the realm into chaos.
Daughter of the Moon Goddess begins an enchanting, romantic duology which weaves ancient Chinese mythology into a sweeping adventure of immortals and magic—where love vies with honor, dreams are fraught with betrayal, and hope emerges triumphant.
While I may have picked this up purely for shallow reasons (just look at that cover!), I stayed for the amazing story told within. Daughter of the Moon Goddess is the perfect blend of action, romance, and gloriously magical mythology, plus you’ve got a totally awesome strong female lead! Kudos to Sue Lynn Tan for such a beautifully executed debut novel!
Daughter of the Moon Goddess is a re-telling of the story of Chang’e, the Moon Goddess. The story seems to follow the basic myth where ten suns are scorching the Earth until the archer Houyi shoots nine of them from the sky. In the original tale, he’s rewarded with an immortality elixir, but Chang’e takes the elixir instead to prevent it’s theft and she becomes the Moon Goddess. In this tale, Chang’e takes the elixir because she fears she and her unborn child will die while she’s in labour and is banished to the moon by the Celestial Emperor. Unknown to the the other immortals, Chang’e has a daughter named Xingyin who she has been raising in her palace on the moon. When the Celestial Empress shows up unannounced she becomes suspicious and Xingyin flees the moon, only to wind up in the Celestial court where she then becomes companion to the Prince. She spends many years training and learning with her unlikely friend all the while keeping her heritage secret, but also yearning to earn the Emperor’s favor so that she might free her mother.
The story takes place over a surprisingly long amount of time, though much of it is fast-forwarded through since it’s repetitive training and learning. It does spend a good deal of time establishing Xingyin and Prince Liwei’s friendship and then their blossoming romantic interest in one another, which of course is promptly nipped when Liwei is engaged to a Princess of the Phoenix kingdom. Xingyin determines to make her own path from here by joining the military alongside the famed Captain Wenzhi as a special archer attache. She makes quite a name for herself slaying monsters and helping to keep the peace in other kingdoms and she eventually begins to fall for Wenzhi, though she still cannot forget her feelings for Liwei. It’s actually a rather well done love triangle despite the fact I usually find them nothing but frustrating! There are some nice twists along this hero’s journey and I enjoyed the pacing. I find that the years passing, coupled with the setting, and writing style made for an overall ethereal feel and then WHAM that last quarter of the book was action packed and bittersweet!
I’m pleasantly surprised to find that I loved this as much as I hoped I would, plus with such a beautiful cover I think I’ll pick up a hardcover to add to my bookshelves! Anymore, I only do this with my favorite books because quite frankly, I’m running out of space and have to keep donating books I didn’t love as much as others. Daughter of the Moon Goddess is a book that will easily appeal to both adult and young adult fantasy readers and would be a great bridge for those who are wanting to delve more into adult fantasy titles. This is perfect for fans of mythology or fairytale retellings, those who want to delve into more Chinese inspired fantasy, or even just someone looking for a strong female lead with a great character arc!