Genre: Fantasy Age range: Adult Star Rating: 4 stars Series: yes - first book of duology
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.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
DAUGHTER OF THE MOON GODDESS is the start of a gorgeously written duology inspired by Chinese mythology. It’s so lyrical, with a slower pace that combines with the writing to give it a dream-like quality. I found the book so hard to put down as the writing just drew me in to this glittering world that was fraught with danger and deceit.
There are many different myths woven together into the story as Xingyin learns in the palace then goes to fight various monsters, seeing a variety of lushly drawn lands, and then faces down threats from all sides. The middle of the book is quite episodic in feel, as she heads out on various missions, each including a little seed of the ending in them, all tangling her closer to two men in her life.
The book is the first in a duology, but more or less reads like a standalone, and would have been completely satisfying to read on its own with the removal of about three paragraphs (which basically promise she’ll have to face one of the characters again.) I really liked that contained feel. While I do like cliff-hangers that leave me needing to know what happens next, there’s something really satisfying about things being wrapped up.
Some, had it been a standalone, might have preferred the romance to be a bit more finalised, but I liked the note it struck of her being happy in herself after working so hard to free her mother. It let the book circle back around to the opening, with her seeing how much she’d changed and yet remained herself. I loved that use of the opening mirrored in the end. No fear, there will definitely be more of the romance in the next book though!
The reason this book isn’t 5 stars for me is because of the almost-love-triangle and how it played out. I’m not much of a fan of love triangles because they rarely mean anything more adding romantic tension for the protagonist. The two potential love interests usually don’t represent big choices tied to the character’s arc, related to the inner character struggle (the personal ones like protecting a kingdom or getting revenge) or overall goals.
And that’s what happened here. For a start, it never quite felt like a love triangle as Xingyin always had way more chemistry with one of the men, and some of the scenes with the other simply felt there to add tension between her and the guy with the far stronger chemistry. And neither one seemed to offer genuine choices related to her arc, as both were at odds with her primary goal (freeing her mother) and yet never seemed to conflict with that?
Plus, instead of the book actually making her choose between the two of them, and thus having to make a decision, something happens to take one of them off the board. It was quite a cop-out, and didn’t feel well set up as there hadn’t been clues layered in that sparked an “oh, that’s why that happened.” Thus the twist didn’t feel satisfying.
I am excited for the sequel when it comes!
Read my reviews of other books by Sue Lynn Tan:
The Celestial Kingdom (this series):
One thought on “Book Review: DAUGHTER OF THE MOON GODDESS by Sue Lynn Tan”
Gah, love triangles! This sounds very YA, even though it’s marketed for adults. I’m putting this one on hold: I’m getting more familiar with Asian mythologies and they’re very fun to play with. (Such crazy monsters!)
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