Title: Daughter of the Moon Goddess (The Celestial Kingdom Duology Book 1) by Sue Lynn Tan
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
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.
Rating: 5 Stars
The opening to Daughter of the Moon Goddess was interesting and definitely set a fast pace for the book as I flew through the first 50 pages. We are introduced to Xingyin who is the daughter of the Moon Goddess, Chang’e and their attendant and friend, Ping’er. All three live on the Moon and have done for all of Xingyin’s life but she has had to live by strict rules especially regarding the information she can know and to not interact with the glowing lights in her mind. One day, Xingyin does just that and the Celestial Empress arrives at their home. During this meeting, Xingyin learns that her mother was imprisoned on the Moon before she was born and because of her actions she now has to leave her home. Ping’er tries to help Xingyin escape but they are following and attacked by soldiers so Xingyin decides to drop down into the Celestial Palace area in order to give Ping’er a chance to escape. She ends up becoming an attendant to Lady Meiling in the Golden Lotus Mansion and time passes. However, one day after being scolded by her Mistress she meets a young boy who turns out to be Crown Prince Liwei and asks to be allowed to enter the contest to become the Prince’s study partner at the Palace.
As we approach the ¼ mark in the novel, Xingyin is given the chance to compete and to her surprise ends up winning the competition, this is partly on her own merit but also because Liwei helped her win. Now she becomes his companion and friend and ends up living at the Palace where she meets Minyi and gains another friend. She begins to adjust to life in the Palace and begins her learning alongside the Prince even learning to find and harness her magic. She also finds out she has some skill in archery and fighting where she befriends a female soldier, Shuxiao. At this point, Xingyin has spent two years in the Palace, where she has been learning, training and controlling her magic but she has never lost sight of her goal to return home and free her mother. Xingyin is offered a place in the army and she is considering it but she is also considering Liwei’s offer of help but she doesn’t know if she can completely trust him with the truth. She learns from the General that there is a Talisman a soldier can earn, and if it is awarded to them then they earn a royal favour which she could use to free her mother. The magic system is interesting at it revolves around the elements with the exception of talents. The only talent we are introduced to is life magic but Liwei tells Xingyin about the outlawed mind magic.
As we cross the ¼ mark in the novel, Xingyin and Liwei do grow closer with them eventually confessing their love for each other but knowing the situation we can see that Xingyin is being naïve and she soon learns a harsh lesson. Despite them having a few blissful days together, at Liwei’s birthday party it is announced that he is betrothed to Princess Fengmei from the Phoenix Kingdom which crushes Xingyin but she does get some support from Captain Wenzhi who she just met at the party. While he maintains that she will always have a place there she knows he has nothing to offer but the life of a mistress if she stays so she decides to leave the Palace and accept the General’s offer to join the army. Despite everything happening I am waiting for the catalyst, the thing that will either revealed Xingyin’s identity or force her to reveal herself to drive the story forward.
As we approach the halfway mark in the novel, Xingyin is going to face down the hydra like monster and realises that she had never shot anything alive before and doubts whether or not she can do it. While she does manage to kill the creature she hesitates and it gets her and others injured which she immediately begins beating herself up for. Xingyin’s next assignment is in the Eastern Sea were they are leading aid to the Royals there after merfolk are attacking them. At the Fragrant Coral Palace they are introduced to the royals and banquet held where they are attacked. During these two assignments, Xingyin has also developed an attraction to Wenzhi and he is attracted to her as we saw in their first meeting and how he comforted her during this time. As we are getting close to the halfway point I was waiting for the larger action to begin outside of the small personal conflicts Xingyin is facing. I want her to dig for information about her mother’s enchantment and start training to break it or to do something about finding her father rather than just taking about it.
As we cross into the second half of the novel, Xingyin is honoured by the Eastern Sea Kingdom for her part in the protection of the Prince and the defeat of Governor Renyu. Afterwards, Wenzhi confesses to Xingyin that he is retiring from the army and returning home to the Western Sea and wants her to go with him and he gives her time to decide. Although they are very quickly informed of the kidnapping of Princess Fengmei, Liwei’s fiancé and Liwei wants Xingyin to go with him on the rescue mission. Together with their army they track down Princess Fengmei and rescue her but everything seems too easy and Xingyin realises that the Princess is bound with chains made form the ore from Shadow Peak which binds an immortal’s power and she realises that Liwei is in danger. Xingyin uses her power to bring Liwei close to death in order to trick Lady Hualing and succeeds but she realises that despite loving Liwei still she has to let him go because she doesn’t belong to her anymore and she looks to the future she might have with Wenzhi. However, I was a little disappointed that she didn’t use her mother’s banishment as a way to gain the trust of Lady Hualing and stall for more time rather than enraging her to the point she used them both.
As we approach the ¾ mark in the novel, Xingyin is awarded the Crimson Lion Talisman for her role in rescuing Liwei and Princess Fengmei and she finally reveals herself and asks for her mother be released. The Emperor denies this request but accepts her request of allowing her a chance to free her mother through a task of his choosing. He asks her to free the dragons and collect their pearls and bring them back to him not matter the cost and she agrees. The dragons decide to give her their pearls as long as she promises to never use their power for violence as it would kill them and she agrees. I believe since this is the first book in a duology that Xingyin might come up with some plan to prevent or stall a war between the two Kingdoms and the second book will focus on the war and aftermath.
As we cross into the final section of the novel, Xingyin succeeds in escaping but this isn’t the end of her troubles. However, with Liwei at her side she manages to get what she wants in the end. While I can’t discuss the ending too much I can say that while I loved Wenzhi and Liwei for the majority of the novel, I did prefer Wenzhi as a love interest and can’t wait for the sequel to see what happens. One of the best books I’ve read this year so far and I can’t wait to read more from these characters in the future.
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.
Author Links: Goodreads Website Twitter Instagram
Buy it here: Goodreads Blackwells Blackwells(signed UK edition) Amazon Book Depository(hardcover) Book Depository(paperback) Barnes & Noble
I received this review copy for consideration from CP Tours.