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Review: Daughter Of The Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

on August 9, 2022

Daughter Of The Moon Goddess (The Celestial Kingdom Duology #1)
Sue Lynn Tan
Harper Voyager
2022, 500p
Read via my local library

Blurb {from the publisher/}: A fantasy inspired by the legend of the Chinese moon goddess, Chang’e , in which a young woman’s quest to free her mother pits her against the most powerful immortal in the realm and sets her on a dangerous path—where choices come with deadly consequences, and she risks losing more than her heart.

Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the powerful 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, untrained, 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 Crown Prince, mastering archery and magic, even as passion flames between her and the emperor’s son.

To save her mother, Xingyin embarks on a perilous quest, confronting legendary creatures and vicious enemies across the earth and skies. When treachery looms and forbidden magic threatens the kingdom, however, 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.

I heard so much about this prior to its being published – both the covers I’ve seen, the US version and the UK version, are stunning. And I know nothing at all about Chinese mythology so this definitely seemed like something that would be quite different in many ways, to lots of other YA fantasy that I’ve read before. It’s also pretty popular – I had to wait a long time on my library’s waiting list for this one and I knew once it came in, I’d have to read it immediately as I wouldn’t be able to renew it.

Our protagonist is Xingyin, the literal daughter of the Moon Goddess. She’s grown up in almost complete isolation on the moon, with her mother and a helper of some description who is a friend of her mother’s. However when visitors come, her mother hides her away and then makes plans for the helper to take Xingyin far away, to her own lands, where she will be, for some reason, safe. Her mother does not really explain why she isn’t safe anymore, it’s all very rushed but the escape does not go to plan and Xingyin ends up alone in the lands of the Celestial Kingdom where she wins a competition to be the study companion of the Crown Prince.

There Xingyin learns – academically and physically, training to fight and handle herself in all manner of ways. Her ultimate goal is to win some reward the Celestial King offers, which grants the recipient a favour of their choice, which she will use to free her mother from her moon prison. Along the way she learns many mysterious things and becomes involved in a love triangle.

I’m not a love triangle person, it’s actually one of my least favourite tropes and I didn’t realise there was going to be one until the story was well underway. The reasons I don’t like them are numerous but mostly it’s because a) I can’t stand the indecisiveness, like just pick someone already and b) because the person I usually end up liking the most is almost never the person the main character ends up with. And by the end of this book, it seemed pretty obvious that I’d picked the wrong one yet again in some ways, considering it turns out he’s kind of evil (or maybe just misunderstood? lol. I’m kind of hoping there’s a path for him that’s better in the 2nd book?). I didn’t like the other choice for Xingyin at all, from the time he first appeared on the page. I’m always wary of these types, who are ‘so different’ to everyone else around them, despite only really being exposed to, well, everyone else around them their entire lives.

I enjoyed this but I also thought it was a bit too long – it takes a long time before we really get into the meat of the story, there’s quite a lot about Xingyin learning alongside the Crown Prince and then joining the army and undertaking random missions and I get that she needs to learn her skills but there are parts of the story that definitely felt like that they dragged for me. I don’t think many books really need to be 500p and this book also both skipped forward in time many months but dragged as well as we are treated to Xingyin doing the same things over and over again. Parts of it where it could’ve been drawn out, to build tension, are glossed over and yet some mundane activities are described in great detail.

I enjoyed this enough to want to read the sequel – I thought the end was pretty interesting and I want to see where the author goes next with the story. I found a lot of the basis of the story and the background mythology and the inclusion of things like dragons, etc and the magic system really interesting so I do want to know how it all ends. I just don’t really enjoy the love triangle development and the way in which the pacing feels uneven at times.


Book #108 of 2022

3 responses to “Review: Daughter Of The Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

  1. thinkingbookishthoughts says:

    Ooh this sounds like a fab read. Great review!

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