Title: Daughter of the Moon Goddess
Series: The Celestial Kingdom #1
Author: Sue Lynn Tan
Genre: YA, Mythology, Retelling
Published: January 11th, 2022 (Harper Voyager)
Synopsis: 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.
Thank you to the publisher, Harper Collins Canada, HCC Frenzy, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Xingyin has grown up on the moon and her life has been idyllic, if solitary, with only her mother and a trusted attendant for company, unknowing that her mother, the moon goddess Chang’e has been exiled by the Celestial Emperor for stealing the elixir of immortality and she herself has been hidden away from the Emperor’s wrath. When her presence is accidentally revealed, Xingyin flees her home, leaving everything she has ever known behind and finds herself in the Celestial Kingdom, alone and friendless in an unknown place. Through a happy turn of events, she wins an opportunity to learn alongside Liwei, the emperor’s son, eventually rising to become a skilled archer in the army. Never losing sight of her ultimate goal to free her mother, Xingyin embarks upon a journey with many dangerous quests to gain the Celestial Emperor’s favour and break the enchantment.
“Titles are inherited, talent might be blood-bound, but true greatness lies within.”
I’m honestly shocked that this is a debut novel! As little as I know about Chinese mythology, I was especially excited to pick up this one because I was actually familiar with the myths this story is based on – the myth of Chang’e and later, the story of the Four Dragons. The world building was spectacular and immersive, and despite, in my opinion, being a rather complex world, the way it was presented made it very easy to grasp right off the bat and I never felt lost at any point in the book even though the world building was more gradual. The writing was so lyrical and beautiful, and it truly brought this incredible world to life – and in such intricate detail too! The plot itself was equally spectacular. Between the lore, the magic, court politics, forbidden romance and of course, the epic battles, there was never a quiet moment in this story and it had me glued to the pages from beginning to end.
Xingyin was an amazing protagonist and her journey was a delightful one to follow. She starts off a rather naive girl due to the very sheltered life she has led, but upon basically having her entire worldview shattered in a matter of minutes, proves herself to be smart, resourceful and brave, pursuing every possible opportunity that could bring her closer to her goal. I found Liwei to be more or less a standard YA hero, but he was a genuinely good character and in the midst of all the ruthless court politics, it was refreshing to have a contrast like him. I absolutely loved the way Liwei and Xingyin’s slow relationship was written – it was such a perfect portrayal of friends to lovers and it was beautifully depicted.
There was only really one thing I didn’t like about this book, and compared to how good the rest of the story was, it’s not even that big of a deal, but I did not enjoy the love triangle at all. From past experience, I know this trope can be done right, and while this was well written and interesting to read, it just didn’t work for me.
Daughter of the Moon Goddess was a wonderful retelling of this myth, perfectly paced and it was such a delight to read. While the ending of the book seems mostly peaceable, there are still so many possibilities for the story ahead and I can’t wait to see where Xingyin’s journey leads her next . I can’t recommend this book enough and I’m counting the days until the sequel! If you’re reading one book this month, make it this one – it will not disappoint!
Daughter of the Moon Goddess releases today, January 11th, 2022.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
All quotes in this review were taken from an advance reader’s edition and may differ from the final version of the book.
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