Author: Sue Lynn Tan
Publication date: January 11, 2021
Genre: fantasy, mythology, YA retelling
My rating: 4.5/5 stars
Come for the gorgeous cover and Chinese mythology; stay for the gorgeous writing and epic scope. This book has been on my radar since it was first announced, so naturally, I was thrilled when Turn the Page Tours presented me with the opportunity to read it for their blog tour! This book is romantic, heartbreaking, and beautiful, with lush details and a strong heroine who grows from naivete into her own person. Read on for my review, as well as a sampling of some lovely quotes from the book.
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.
Fans of mythology, epic tales, and lyrical writing, rejoice: this book is beautiful, inside and out, and packs its 500+ pages with everything you could want from such a story, from magic to romance to action to intrigue to So Many Feelings.
This book’s lush imagery helped elevate it from merely a moving tale to a beautiful tapestry of words. In fantasy, it is easy for descriptions to become overwrought or to feel out of place. Yet the author here, by framing the narrative through the eyes of Xingyin, a girl who has spent her whole life in one place, is able to infuse her scenes with a wonder that easily passes on to the reader as well. And oh, what beautiful visuals she describes! The swirling colors of the book’s cover (at least, the US cover) are reflected in her descriptions of this world full of immortals, where the ground is blue and reflective, palaces perch on clouds, and vibrant hues of flowers and silks abound. And this imagery never bogs down the narrative; though the pace is not breakneck, the story never feels slow, instead unfolding its epic scope like a fairytale on a grand scale (or, perhaps more accurately, an epic woven of multiple fairytales, subsequent adventures of one indomitable heroine).
Speaking of an indomitable heroine: let’s take a moment of appreciation for Xingyin, a girl of complex emotional depth whose narrative arc follows a classic hero’s journey. She makes mistakes, and sometimes is a little sassy, but her convictions are firm, her values strong, and her heart constant even when she is forced to choose between her love and her entire world. She is fierce without being an over-powered trope-fest, and her earnestness makes her a lovable narrator you can’t help but root for.
From a plot perspective, many elements of this book reminded me (in a good way!) of Six Crimson Cranes, which was one of my favorite reads of last year. Both books featured girls in disguise, full of deep love for their families and hidden magic, winning the notice of nobles unaware of their identities, ultimately taking on legendary creatures and sinister forces far beyond what they expected. These similarities did not make the two books identical, but rather demonstrate their respective authors’ skills: both books are gorgeous, unique, and vibrant in their own rights, and had I read them both in the same year, there is a strong chance I would have placed both on my favorites list.
If you want powerful emotions, a rich mythological world, and a story that will live rent-free in your head while you impatiently wait for the sequel, this is the book for you.
These are just a few favorites of mine from this book! A lot of my favorite quotes ended up being fairly long, closer to paragraphs, and these seemed a little pithier.
“Some scars are carved into our bones–a part of who we are, shaping what we become.”
“A palace you cannot escape is a prison nonetheless.”
“What we do is not a reflection of who we are.”
The other hosts on this tour have been hard at work writing reviews, taking photos, doing interviews, and more! Check out the full schedule of stops HERE to see who else will be posting about this book throughout the tour!
About the Author
Sue Lynn Tan writes fantasy inspired by the myths and legends she fell in love with as a child. Born in Malaysia, she studied in London and France, before settling in Hong Kong with her family.
Her love for stories began with a gift from her father, her first compilation of fairytales from around the world. After devouring every fable she could find in the library, she discovered fantasy books – spending much of her childhood lost in magical worlds. When not writing or reading, she enjoys exploring the hills and reservoirs of Hong Kong, the temples, beaches and narrow winding streets here.
Her debut, Daughter of the Moon Goddess, will be published by Harper Voyager in early 2022, with a sequel to come. It is an enchanting fantasy of love and family, immortals and magic – inspired by the beloved Chinese legend of Chang’e flying to the moon upon taking the elixir of immortality.
Sue Lynn can be reached on Instagram @SuelynnTan, or on her website www.suelynntan.com.
Huge thank you to Harper Voyager and Turn the Page Tours for providing me with an eARC of this book via NetGalley as part of my participation in this blog tour! All opinions are my own.