Book review – Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

The blurb

Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the powerful Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. But when her magic flares and her existence is discovered, Xingyin 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 train in the Crown Prince’s service, learning to master archery and magic, despite the passion which flames between her and the emperor’s son.

The review

I’ve been having something of a romantasy revival. After going off the sub-genre a few years ago, I’ve suddenly come around and picked up a few titles.

I’m so glad. A bit of romance is always nice, especially when the book is as beautiful as Daughter of the Moon Goddess.

Using Chinese mythology as the basis of the story, Sue Lynn Tan weaves an engrossing tale. It’s gentle in some ways, even though there are lots of battles and betrayals. I think that is down to having such a sincere protagonist in Xingyin.

The writing is very lyrical and the dilemma that Xingyin find herself in makes for a compelling read. For Xingyin is the daughter of the moon goddess. The Celestial Emperor and Empress do not like Xingyin’s mother, Chang’e, and as a result, Chang’e keeps Xingyin’s birth a secret.

In order to win freedom for her mother, Xingyin joins the celestial court as a commoner, however, the day she meets Liwei, the Crown Prince, everything changes.

The romance is beautifully restrained. Unrequited love, forbidden love, and how to survive when love is withheld from you are all themes of this story.

Standing alongside the romance, is the story around Xingyin’s love for her mother and her quest to better herself. I loved the parts of the story where Xingyin learned to use her own magic and fought against other magical beings.

The magical system is strong too. Magical weapons, dragons, flying clouds and water-people – and yet it feels very grounded. I think is because of how relatable Xingyin is as a character. I rooted for her the whole time, though I was still able to understand the motivations of key secondary characters, even when they were unlikeable.

There is also political intrigue as the different magical kingdoms vie for power – and of course there is the mystery of who Xingyin’s mother and father really are.

It’s a very sweet book, certainly not steamy like lots of other YA romantasy – and the prose is absolutely beautiful.

I’d highly recommend this book, and I’ll be continuing with Heart of the Sun Warrior in May.

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