Cover Image: Daughter of the Moon Goddess

Daughter of the Moon Goddess

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Member Reviews

This book was BEAUTIFULLY written and very magical. I loved the relationship between Xingyin and her mother. It was real and she is a wonderful protaginist. My biggest issue is the love aspect. It was too much for me (I am picky), but I know many people would enjoy it a lot. As a teen librarian, I would recommend this to teens who are looking to start reading adult fantasy. Great for beginners and has similar tropes and beats that YA novels have.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for sending me a copy of this book for my honest review.

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This was such an incredible story! The world building was so detailed and descriptive that I could see everything perfectly in my mind. The characters were well thought out and intriguing. There was a slight Mulan vibe, lots of action and monsters, conniving political moves, a slow burn romance and unique magic. It had everything I love in a great fantasy story. I cannot recommend this book enough, and can’t wait to dive into the sequel.

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I liked this more than I originally did by the end. The beginning was slow. There's a lot of jumping around time and location-wise, so it's more action and fewer emotions/thoughts. However, I enjoyed that aspect by the end as it felt more like mythology/fables, which really went with the tone of the books.I liked the love triangle for once. I felt it was well done, and I'm not sure who she'll pick--I think this is because the book told more than showed emotions. But I really ended up liking the book and story!

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This book is an absolute ride!!

Full of incredible imagery and whimsy, I was whisked away from the start.

For lovers of fantasy, and mythology this is truly the story for you and one that resonated with me on a deep level.

Such incredible storytelling and the pictures that were painted in my mind from the words on the page were truly special and unforgettable!

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TLDR:

Daughter of the Moon Goddess is the first installment in a debut Fantasy duology by Sue Lynn Tan.

Notable elements:

- Mortal vs. Immortal
- Valorous Quests
- Love Triangle

What I liked:

- Candid Protagonist — Xingyin grows up in isolation, without knowledge of proper etiquette, and her blunt personality and forward interactions reflect that. She speaks her mind without fear of retribution.
- Laser-Focus — I appreciate that Xingyin maintains steadfast in her commitment to her mother. Even after being swept up in the affairs of the Celestial Kingdom, Xingyin remains focused on her primary objective of freeing the Moon Goddess.
- Catastrophic Betrayal — There are a number of gut-wrenching and shocking plot twists that upend the story. With notable story elements such as love triangles, political affairs, and secret identities, how could there not be?
- Dragons

Reminds me of:

- Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim
- Song of Silver, Flame Like Night by Amelie Wen Zhao

Content warnings:

Violence, Blood, War, Death

Final thoughts:

I really enjoyed Daughter of the Moon Goddess! She Lynn Tan’s debut is compelling and epic, and I can’t wait to read its sequel, Heart of the Sun Warrior.

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Daughter of the Moon Goddess (Celestial Kingdom #1) by Sue Lynn Tan
Published: October 11, 2022
Genre: Fantasy based on mythology
Trigger warnings: alcohol consumption, kidnapping, assault, bullying, death

Summary from Amazon: 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. 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 duology which weaves ancient Chinese mythology into a sweeping adventure of immortals and magic, of loss and sacrifice—where love vies with honor, dreams are fraught with betrayal, and hope emerges triumphant.

Review: This lush and beautiful story is based on the legend of Chang’e, the Chinese moon goddess and it is, in my mind, the perfect mythology-based fantasy story. If the trend in fantasy is toward incorporating world mythology, I am ready for more of these stories. The fierce female protagonist reminded me of Shiori from Elizabeth Lim’s Six Crimson Cranes and The Dragon’s Promise – those novels are reimagined versions of The Wild Swans by Hans Christian Andersen or the Brothers Grimm.

Xingyin must flee her home when the Celestial Emperor feels her presence there – her mother has kept her hidden for her safety. She finds herself working as a servant when the son of the Celestial Emperor finds her. She convinces him to allow her to vie to become his companion in study and combat. Xingyin finds herself making bargains to survive, but also to win her mother’s freedom. This is the perfect YA fantasy novel. I compare this to Elizabeth Lim’s duology, but also find it as exceptionally wonderful as adult fantasies based on world mythology by Katherine Arden (The Bear and the Nightingale) and Naomi Novik (Uprooted, Spinning Silver). Xingyin and the prince have a complicated friendship and mutual admiration for each other, and there is a bit of depth added when Xingyin decides to pursue a career in the army where she takes on perilous tasks to free her mother. This, along with the added depth of the backstory of Chang’e, makes this an engaging adventure for all readers. I am already reading her sequel, Heart of the Sun Warrior, because I never want to stop reading this story and living in this world.

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I read Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan much earlier this year for a book club with friends, so this review has been long overdue. I pondered how to write about this story, which features Xingyin separated from her exiled, immortal mother and set on a quest to lift her mother’s imprisonment while also undergoing a journey of self-discovery, romantic love, and familial loyalty.

In the end, I’ve decided to outline my thoughts to match the CAWPILE rating system. Let’s explore the highs and lows of Daughter of the Moon Goddess through the lens of characters, atmosphere, writing, plot, intrigue, logic, and enjoyment.

Characters
Despite the moon goddess Chang’e being alluded to in the title, she serves more as a background driving force for the titular character, Xingyin. Married to a mortal archer favored by the gods, Chang’e achieved immortality while pregnant with Xingyin, so the other gods punished her with exile on the moon, where she raised her daughter in secret. After events force Xingyin to be separated from her mother, Xingyin scrambles to find her place in the Immortal Realm while attempting to learn the truth behind her mother’s exile and, more importantly, how to spare her from further punishment.

Let me state early on that I liked Xingyin as a character, but then it was hard to dislike her. The narrative made a lot of concessions towards her that truly weren’t deserved at times. She struggles in the beginning, but not too much. She trains at archery, is moderately decent, and then so exceptional that she somehow gets to establish her own terms of how she will serve in the imperial military, despite being an unproven cadet. Nearly every male character she meets falls in love with her. She is kind to servants and to those above her station who are kind back, and she is vengeful towards those who inspire vengeance. Xingyin remains impulsive throughout the story and only grows as a person in that she becomes more knowledgeable in a worldly sense. However, by and large, she gets to do whatever she wants from beginning to end without the appropriate pushback I believe she needed to experience to be a memorable character. She needed a lot more things to go wrong for her.

In short, I enjoyed her point of view, but I wish the narrative hadn’t held her hand the entire time. Xingyin had the strength of character and the skillsets to be challenged into growing as a person, but it never truly happens. This constancy is emphasized by how the narrative voice never changes, never matures despite Xingyin’s young age as she enters the Immortal Realm and the many years she spends away from her mother.

A character Xingyin interacts with early on is Liwei, the Crown Prince of the current Emperor. He establishes a place for Xingyin in his court as his study mate and friend, and inevitably, the two fall into an ill-timed and doomed sort of love. Where lost love is a theme that begins with Xingyin’s parents, it is mirrored in her own relationship with Liwei. I liked Liwei in terms of his relationship with Xingyin because it scratched that itch of yearning I enjoy with romance, but on his own, Liwei is quite forgettable. If he had had more scenes like the one involving Lady Hualing, we could’ve really been cooking with spices. Ultimately, though, he isn’t as utilized as I would’ve liked and doesn’t experience much growth, either.

Where my interest truly blossomed was in Wenzhi’s character. He is the Captain of the Guard who Xingyin—well, “is assigned to” isn’t accurate to say. She chooses to serve in his unit as some kind of independent soldier. Anyway. Wenzhi seems fairly straight-laced in the beginning, but there are nuggets dropped here and there which imply otherwise. In truth, his character growth is actually a plot twist more than real growth, but I enjoyed the twist so damn much that he and the author get full points from me. If Xingyin and Liwei are the tragic yearning of romantic love, then Xingyin and Wenzhi are the intensity and passion of obsessive love. I won’t say further about Wenzhi because he’s something I’d love for other readers to experience as freshly as possible.

As for other characters, there are minor ones, to be sure, but absolutely none of them matter the way these main three do. I wish that aspect of the book was different because I love a large cast of characters, but Daughter of the Moon Goddess did not put the bulk of its work into developing characters.

Atmosphere
Chang’e’s palace on the moon, the Celestial Kingdom, the Eastern Sea Kingdom, the Demon Realm, the dragons, the fashion—there are so many aspects where the atmosphere was rich beyond belief. Here is an area where Sue Lynn Tan showed her skill, and as a debut author, it was incredibly impressive. Every scene, I could envision. Every article of clothing described, I could see and touch its textures. Every flower and meal, I could smell and taste. This is a novel that caters to the senses.

Then, there was Xingyin’s narrative voice capturing the emotion of the moment so completely, it was like I was standing right there with her. You know how there are some books that are just vibes but nothing else? Daughter of the Moon Goddess brings the vibes but also the world-building substance to go with it.

Writing
The sharpness and distinction of the descriptions is a major strength of Sue Lynn Tan’s. She also captures the lyrical prose of emotional writing very well and maintains a fast pace in describing setting, action, and scene transitions throughout the novel. Those who enjoy snappy, “let’s get right to it!” adventures with colorful descriptions will thrive while reading this one. Those who want more from the characters, however, may struggle a bit.

For all Tan can set a scene, however, I was often distracted by the odd placements of commas and em dashes, which were inaccurate enough to disrupt my own pace and detract from the reading experience.

Plot
While the plot starts off simple with Xingyin wishing to return home and free her mother, it soon expands and develops as Xingyin navigates the imperial court and more political players are brought to the forefront. When Xingyin doesn’t achieve instant results, she also gets to explore facets of herself that she never had a chance to or neglected before. The original plot frames the novel, though, so you, like me, may only experience surprises more towards the middle and the third act of the book.

I liked the plot, though, as I do with anything that involves the struggle of family loyalty and a little bit of politicking. Being surrounded by immortal beings and various aspects of Chinese mythology helps it go down easy, too.

Intrigue
For the first half of the book, my intrigue was middling and certainly not my driving force of reading. I sensed early on that I wouldn’t have to worry too much about Xingyin and that she would never be truly in danger of failing, and I was right. Fortunately, the mystery of just how she would succeed kept me going. Wenzhi came in clutch on the rest.

Logic
For the most part, Daughter of the Moon Goddess tracks from a logical standpoint. It goes a very basic route with its magic system rather than dipping too much into how it works, which is fine by me. I’d rather suspend my disbelief for twinkling lights and surging emotions instead of getting snagged on rules that either don’t make sense or don’t jive with other ones that are established.

Regrettably, there remains one glaring issue I have with this story.

Okay, look, I can accept that Xingyin is a natural talent at archery and that she can learn bow and arrow skills extremely quickly. We do see her train, which is more than some books give me, and besides that, male characters often get to be just as skilled, just as easily. Look at how skilled Liwei and Wenzhi are in comparison, for instance. Readers do not expect for the book to explain their proficiency the way we typically expect it to explain Xingyin’s in excruciating detail to justify why she’s capable.

The thing that does make me tilt my head is her fake military position. What kind of soldier without a proven track record can pick and choose their own assignments? General Jianyun and Captain Wenzhi cannot seem to do this, despite their higher ranks. They go where they are assigned by their commanding officers or the Emperor. At court, no one knows that Xingyin is Chang’e’s daughter. She is essentially treated as a commoner of no rank besides being Prince Liwei’s companion, which certain elements of the court scorn. Why, then, does Xingyin get this unbelievable privilege on the mere basis that her archery training has gone super well?

The answer is that the plot believes she needs to have this freedom in order for the rest of the plot to be carried out. If you can ignore that glaring issue, then it’s fine and you’ll have a good time with the book. If you can’t, then it’s fair to say you will struggle because all of the characters who interact with her also go along with this special privilege that no one can fully explain or justify. Even her rank of “First Archer” is completely made up on the spot by Wenzhi to make Xingyin sound more official; everyone knows it’s a fake rank, and yet… They go along with it as if it means something, as if it’s impressive.

At the very least, Xingyin does demonstrate the skills necessary to warrant other immortals being impressed with her. The hang up continues to be that she is operating in a military setting but can disobey orders and do as she pleases as a free agent without official consequences because Wenzhi gives her all the leeway she wants. The book constantly emphasizes that anything Xingyin does is “her choice,” which is now lazy shorthand for “this book is feminist,” ignoring how much said choice makes no sense and doesn’t do much for Xingyin’s agency. I would rather see a female character be put in a situation she didn’t choose but winds up making the best of or, even better, one who finds a way to turn the tables to her advantage compared to an empty gesture like this.

Especially because if Xingyin had just been assigned to Wenzhi’s unit like a regular soldier would have, the plot would’ve stayed the exact same. If she had risen through the ranks based on her achievements and tactical ability, it would’ve spoken more to her character and helped better explain why Wenzhi came to trust her and regard her so highly.

Enjoyment
Despite my gripes, I enjoyed Daughter of the Moon Goddess as a whole and am deeply interested in where the sequel is going. It’s still months later, but all the elements it did well—the atmosphere, the world-building, the fast-paced plot, the romances—are still things I think about fondly. I point out the aspects I didn’t like simply to analyze why that was and to ponder how they could’ve been improved. Regardless of those feelings, Daughter of the Moon Goddess stands out this year as a debut work and is reason enough to put Sue Lynn Tan on my radar for more books to come.

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WOW! Just WOW! Talk about a STRONG debut from Sue Lynn Tan.

This book was beyond magical. I have no read a book with Chinese mythology and I found myself pausing my reading just so I can do a google search just to read more about certain things. You do not need any prior knowledge of Chinese mythology to enjoy this book, the author already does a beautiful job telling those stories for you.
This story was a rollercoaster but in a good way. It follows Xingyin from her isolation on the moon, earning a position to train along side the prince, joining the Celestial Army all while holding on to her loyalty, love and devotion to save her mother. Xingyin was everything I want in a FMC. Sue Lynn Tan I thought did a fantastic job keeping the stakes high enough and maintaining the suspense that I found myself saying "just one more chapter" a lot.
I am very excited for the second installment of this duology!

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I'm a big fan of world mythologies, so.. naturally I was incredibly excited when Sue Lynn Tan's 'Daughter of the Moon Goddess' was announced.

Inspired by the legends of Chang'e, the Chinese goddess of the moon, Tan puts her own unique spin on the origin.. and turns it from a classic parable into something more tragic and heartfelt. While the choice certainly allowed me to be more invested in the result of Chang'e's story, something still feels slightly off about this story.

Of course, I enjoyed the rich use of symbolism and the relatively elegant prose. Unfortunately, I also felt like most of my favorite quotes were simply modernly rephrased proverbs, rather than the creative nature of the author.

Initially, there's a burst of urgency.. spiriting Xingyin away from all that she has known. Due to that, there's not a lot of time spent on side character development which I kept expecting to change, but for the most part.. it never did. Prince Liwei might be the only real exception to that and so, he's also the only other character I really felt able to connect with.

Ironically, it feels like we get to know the Empress better than any of the other tertiary characters, including those we see in day to day events. All of which really just leads to a feeling of imbalance within the story. There are so many potentially interesting characters, some of which are clearly meant to be moving.. that just don't do anything for me because of the lack of evolution.

Overall, the story just appears more substantial than it is to me, and I feel a bit sad about it. I'm always happy to see representation of my mixed-Asian heritage in modern media and if I'm being fair, Tan did a much better job than some of the bigger names out there. But as lovely as the story is, it's still only slightly more than mediocre.. and I'm on the hunt for that author who will achieve the extraordinary.

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This was great, but I almost wanted this to be either longer or split into two or three books. I felt that things were really rushed and that the scope and time-length of this novel really could have been drug out even more. But, I'm happy with the book itself and cannot wait to see where the next one goes.

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Daughter of The Moon Goddess is such a beautiful story inspired by Chinese folklore slash mythology of goddess Chang'e. It sucked me right away since the very first page. Xingyin's journey was a delight to follow. Love triangle that present in this book was not annoying at all and I actually loved it. Such a solid debut fantasy novel, for sure!

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Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan was a beautiful retelling of the myth of the Moon Goddess. I really enjoyed the protagonist as well as the many mythological and cultural aspects. I think the author did a good job of building this amazing world that had whimsy but also kept the dtory engaging. Overall, this was a beautiful story and I look forward to reading the sequel. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read an eARC of this book.

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I am so sad to say that I think this book ultimately just wasn’t for me. I expected this one to really go deep into Chinese mythology and magic and certain parts definitely did, which I loved! That being said I was very disappointed to find the love triangle overshadowed and took over a lot of the plot. I also have to admit that while they had plenty of potential, several of the characters ended up falling flat for me, especially the Prince. Nevertheless, the story was still nicely written and like I mentioned, I did like the mythology that was included.

Overall, I give this one 3.5 stars.

A huge thanks to Harper Collins Canada and NetGalley for the ARC. All opinions are my own.

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Originally didn’t give feedback because I DNF, but it’s hurting my feedback ratio, so the reason I stopped reading was because I’m pretty sure she was taking a servant role when she was just in an interesting place before that and I think reading about chores is boring and being mistreated as a servant is awful and infuriating to read about. I also could tell that it would jump around time and I really do not like that in books because I always feel like I am missing something or the characters never feel as authentic because time passes. I also never rate books that I DNF but this makes me.

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Daughter of the Moon Goddess🌙

WOW! This novel was amazing, everything from the plot & character development to the descriptive words that beautifully illustrated the story. It is truly a masterpiece, if your going to judge a book by it’s cover than this novel lives up to it’s cover. The novel is just as beautiful as the cover! I truly can’t wait for the sequel so that I can continue this beautiful adventure.

This novel is filled with…
🐉 Chinese mythology
🏹 Strong female warrior
⚔️ Little bit of a love triangle (I’m all for)

I would like to thank HCC Frenzy @hccfrenzy and NetGalley @netgalley for the advance reader copy in exchange for a honest review.

Romance level:❤️❤️❤️
Plot points:💥💥💥💥💥
Stars:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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Daughter of the Moon Goddess is almost like a song, separated into three movements. Of course this book is a reimagining of the myth of the Moon Goddess but it’s definitely its own mythological tale. We have an issue, we have trials and we have an ending.

I love Xingyin, she is a dutiful daughter with the heart of a warrior. It made you feel more for her when she had to overcome different things.

So I love a drama called Ashes of Love and I found myself rewatching a lot of clips while reading this. Not necessarily because the story is the same but because I have a love of the Celestial Courts. There is a lot of similarities in that sense where it was easy for me to picture where the book takes place because I had this groundwork in my mind already.

The romance…I don’t want to delve too much into it because I don’t want to spoil anything.

I loved this book for so many reasons. The writing really just completely submerged me into the world. Made me feel for the characters and felt the things they felt. It was also a large book but felt fast paced for me.

This is a lot that goes on in the story so I don’t want to give any of that away. Even mentioning the other characters just in case. There is a second book coming out which I’m excited for but Daughter of the Moon Goddess is a full story in itself. So you can read it and feel good when you finish and not feel hanging. Not to say that you want more.

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before starting this book i just had a FEELING i would love it and i'm so happy i was right! sue lynn tan's writing and world-building was seamless and stunning and i enjoyed this story the whole way through. i loved that i never knew where this story was going, but by far my favourite part of this book was xingyin as a main character. she was so inspiring to read about and i love that her love for her mother remained at the core of all aspects of this story. this was just so good and i am already itching to reread it. also, DRAGONS!!

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The author has created a truly beautiful world, playing off the Chang’e legend and depicting this beautiful kingdom filled with gods. I did really like the author’s writing style and descriptions but this book is over 500 pages and it feels like it. The pacing is very, very slow and I was getting bored before I’d even reached the halfway point. There’s not much urgency or thrill in the story despite the MC originally setting out on an important mission. It felt like she forgot about the point of her quest and so we get the humdrum of life instead of any true adventures.

I will say that the book reminded me a lot of the labours of Heracles in its pacing, where there are several things he’s required to complete before he has actually completed the overall challenge. So perhaps if you think along those lines for Xingyin, the story won’t seem to drag as much.

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OMG OMG OMG, I cannot give Sue Lynn Tan enough praise! I have 3 copies of this book and LOVE it. This has to be one of the best fantasy books that I have read this year. Full of mystic and the readers are engulfed in the story. I cannot wait to see what book 2 brings

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A beautifully woven adaptation of the story of the Moon Goddess Chang'e, this story actually follows her daughter, Xingyin, long kept secret from the Celestial Kingdom. Its a tale of adventure, intrigue, and danger as Xingyin fights for love, family, and her freedom.

#DaughteroftheMoonGoddess #NetGalley

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