Publication date: 11 January 2022
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.
Let me start off by saying, I’m biased. I’m a Malaysian Chinese, my favourite Chinese festival is the Mid-autumn Festival. We celebrate the harvest of autumn and eat mooncakes, which leads to another name for this auspicious day – Mooncake Festival. The central legend associated with Mid-Autumn Festival concerns the goddess Chang’e. The legends is as follows: long ago, Earth had 10 suns which cursed the world with a terrible drought. At the order of the Emperor of Heaven, the great mortal archer Hou Yi shot down 9 of the suns, saving Earth from death. In return, he was gifted the immortal elixir to take in order for him to ascend the ranks of the gods in heaven. But, his wife, near death’s door from her labour, drank the elixir to save their child. The controversy remains that of Chang’s dedication to stealing the elixir from her husband. Was the intent of her actions the result of her selfish vanity or a mother’s love for her unborn child? We will never know for it is all a legend without a proper ending that sparks debates on Mid-autumn festival. As a child, my idea was that Chang’e drank the elixir reluctantly to save her unborn child while war ravished her country. I’ve always imagined that she lives harmoniously with her child on the moon and they have hundreds of bunnies co-living with them. Little did I know, that child me was on to something. It makes my heart so full to introduce to you this stunning retelling of my favourite legend by a fellow Chinese Malaysian (who happens to share my name too!!) – Sue Lynn Tan. Yes, ladies and gentlemen,
I AM BIASED.
“Everyone has their own troubles; some lay them bare while others hide them better.
I have zero complaints except that I require an ARC of this book soon, plsssss. Now, this book is thicc, the timeline of it is in years. Which can drag on if you’re not fully invested in the story since it is character-driven. You truly have to be patient to learn the world-building and inner workings of the royal court. It helps if you’ve watched Chinese historical dramas.
I would say that “Daughter of the Moon Goddess” genre is Wuxia. It is a genre of Chinese fantasy influenced by Chinese mythology, Chinese martial arts, Chinese medicine, and other traditional Chinese elements. But we’ll go with Asian High Fantasy for international understanding.
Since I’m used to Wuxia drama series, which can drag on and on and on to the point you can skip a few episodes and still be able to catch up to the plot. I find that the pacing of the book is just right. It is a little long I admit, I am grateful for that because we got to see our little moon goddess’s daughter grow. With every hardship she overcame, every quest a success, it is as though she was going through the lunar phase to rise as a blindly bright full moon.
“A glorious future beckoned on the horizon, Yet I still clung to a shred of my past, as a flowering peach blossom tree yearning for its fallen bloom.”
Sue Lynn Tan writes exceptionally well. Her tantalizing description of Chinese foods had me craving for my grandmother’s homecooked meals. As for the architecture, she transports me into my Wuxia dramas. The clothes!! Don’t get me started on them!! They are superior, the true Haute high fashion. I hope I get to wear a traditional Chinese hanfu one day, a real life main character moment. I’ll settle for my qipao for now.
It is said that during the Mid-Autumn Festival, Chang’e and Hou Yi are reunited—which is why Mid-Autumn Festival is also an important day for families to come together. I love that this whole story centres around Xingyin’s love for her mother. Her bond with her mother makes her willing to do anything to free her mother from her entrapment. It is that love that drives her to overcome the harshest of conditions and morally challenging tasks. We have to admire the stubborn iron will of Xingyin, 好牛。。。🤭
“I was no longer a child willing to drift with the ride – I would steer against the current if I had to. and if I won, by some miraculous stroke of luck, I would never be helpless again.
I like that the story touched on empowerment and the difference of privilege. In a way this fantasy book is a parallel socialogy of today’s age. The family you are born into, the education you’ve received, your upbringing, it contribute your standing in society more than you as a person. Those who are lucky enough will have a jumpstart in the race, those who have nothing save for their wits and brain, might proceed further than expected. However, those who once had it all but their comfort and love was striped away like linens, leaving only the bare bed frame, have nothing to lose, except themselves. That’s when you have to watch out, it is those ride or die that will be exceptional. At least, this is what the book protrayed. 😁
If you enjoy friends-to-lovers, lovers-to-enemies, angst, court politics, deceit and lies, love triangles, mythical creatures, female empowerment, bloodshed, legends, and poetically written stories full of heart. This book is for you.
Ps, I can’t stop thinking about Liwei, the lines that he says make my heart fly on clouds and his intense gaze is like starring straight into the sun during a watercolour sunset.
“I do care,” he ground out. “despite my sense, my judgement and honor – I cannot help but care.”
Thank you to @times.reads and Sue Lynn Tan for this book. I have loved every page. I know this will be one of my top reads for 2022.
You can get the book here