When I was young, my parents would tell me to look at the moon and if I looked closely enough, I could see a person up there. This person was trapped on the moon, unable to come back to Earth. After reading Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan, I can see reiterations of this same myth reflected in all cultures.
Daughter of the Moon Goddess is a lyrically beautiful debut fiction by Sue Lynn Tan. It is a retelling of the ancient myth of Chang’e who is the Chinese moon goddess. This novel combines elements of romance, action, and ancient lore to craft a clever story of the daughter of the once lost goddess. If you like dreamy language, a sweet yet angsty love story, and a story that is like a gentle lullaby, check out Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan.
Thank you to Netgallery for an e-arc of this book so that I can share my unbiased review of 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.
I only have one word to describe the plot of this book: fast-paced. It seemed that each event of this book move incredibly fast, which is one of the reasons I found this book so enjoyable. Within the first two chapters of the book, the problem was introduced and the main character must abandon her old life for a new one. This book has everything a fantasy book is looking for. It has the main character, Xingyin, becoming a maid in the palace. It has her training to be the powerful warrior with the Jade Dragon Bow. In a 500-page book, it was able to condense all the elements of a great fantasy story into one. Even when I did not think she would be able to save her mother in this book, Xingyin was absolutely able to, almost easily.
The only con about the plot of this book is the unsatisfying ending. Xingyin saves her mother, she finds love, she realizes she is a strong and powerful warrior. Now what? With all these happy conclusions, what else could be in store for the sequel?
With all that said, this book was absolutely gravitating. I could not find myself being able to put it down, largely due to its fast-paced writing. It was a magnetic book that easily became one of my favorite fantasy books to date. Although this was a debut novel, it was beautifully crafted and was extremely well-written.
The way Sue Lynn Tan writes her characters feels like it is clear who is good and who is bad. The good characters have good qualities, while the bad characters have bad qualities. The binaries are pretty rigid in this book, with few exceptions. The main character, Xingyin, is likable. She is not a morally gray character. Her duty to her mother is unwavering, which makes her easy to relate to. She never lost focus on her goal of freeing her mother, even though she spent years away from her.
The love interest were both really fleshed-out. They were distinct from one another; their only commonality was how much they both cared for Xingyin. The readers could understand why they both The love interests were both incredibly fleshed-out. They were distinct from one another; their only commonality was how much they both cared for Xingyin and their dedication to loving her. The readers could understand why they both made the choices they did in order to protect the main character or their families. Even when they differ in morality, they make readers feel protected and cared for by the way they treated Xingyin.
I was disappointed by one set of characters, which were the female friends to Xingyin. It felt like their only purpose was to comfort the main character through her troubles. They lack the individuality that characters should have. Hopefully, their character will be expanded more in the next book.
Sue Lynn Tan introduces a new level of stakes when she makes most of the characters immortal. Instead of a protagonist that must start at the bottom of the food chain, Xingyin is able to show a different side of the fantasy novel. The world is able to be expanded into exploring a new status of life, one that comes with magical powers.
The magic in this novel is exciting. While the elements of the story are inspired by Asian folklore such as dragons, merpeople, and a Celestial God, the magic is unique to the story. The powers that the characters have are elemental, with some special cases of mind magic. While this type of magic system is not new, the books are able to combine martial arts and magical fighting. It redefines the definition of a powerful warrior. One cannot just wield weapons or magic, they must be proficient at both.
The smaller elements of the world add a nice touch to the story. From the myth of the dragons to the market that appears every few years to the monsters. Every part of the story is thought out to create a well-fleshed world.
Although this is Sue Lynn Tan’s debut novel, there is no hiding that she is an experienced writer. Her writing ability shined through in this novel. Her writing is lyrical and dreamy, it perfectly encapsulates the mysticalness of the story. The way she paces the novel is incredibly fast, keeping the readers captivated by drama. Sue Lynn Tan’s writing is like a cup of perfectly warm tea, meaning you can drink it all up without worrying about slowing down, yet it will still warm your soul. She makes reading a 500-page novel digestible and addicting.
I know some readers are not a fan of love triangles, but as an avid fan of them, I can say this book has a good one. Although it felt like the two romantic leads fell in love with the main character rather quickly, the book does jump time often due to its fast-paced nature. While this makes it convenient to tell a story, it does leave readers wanting more romantic interactions between the characters. I feel that we are missing those innocent yearning moments when there is a large time skip.
With that being said, the romance was still plenty angsty and intimate. I felt that the main character has chemistry with both male leads. I felt myself rooting for both of them for different reasons. If you are looking for romance in this book or if you are a big fan of romance, I can guarantee there is plenty in this book. Although it is categorized as an adult fantasy, the romance is innocent and charming, rather than hot and heavy. So be warned if you are looking for smut in this book.
However, if you do like morally gray male leads, this book will definitely supply that.
This is Sue Lynn Tan’s debut novel, which blows my mind because this is such an amazing book. I cannot get enough of this. As one of the first novels I read in 2022, I am impressed by the captivating nature of this book. Sue Lynn Tan has slowly become one of my favorite authors. I cannot recommend this book enough. There were many elements to this book that spoke to me. It had the nostalgic folklore of the moon goddess and the warrior who shot down the ten suns. This book is exactly what should represent Asian American fantasy books. I hope to continue reading the sequel as well as any other books Sue Lynn Tan publishes.
If you love mythical stories inspired by Asian folklore, heart-tugging romances and friendships, and loveable main characters, check out Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan. I hope this review was helpful in determining if this book was right for you. If you want to continue to talk about the points made in this book, leave a comment below!