Book Review: Daughter of the Moon Goddess (Sue Lynn Tan)

Xingyin, daughter of the Moon Goddess Chang’e, vows to free her mother from exile on the moon, imposed by the Celestial Emperor. To do so, Xingyin disguises her identity and joins the emperor’s army, where she learns archery and magic, becoming renowned and starting to fall for Liwei, the crown prince. But to save her mother, Xingyin must go on a perilous quest, sacrificing almost everything she cherishes to find the answers she seeks.

When I was young, I had a book of illustrated Chinese fairy tales, stories that were full of wonder and exotic treasures. So many times, as an adult, I’ve wished that I could page through those stories. The Daughter of the Moon Goddess reminds me of that book. From the beginning, Sue Lynn Tan immerses you in the world of the Celestial Immortals with osmanthus trees, the musical qin, robes of embroidered silk, and people with jet-black eyes and skin the luster of a pearl. The writing is lush and eloquent, a softly flowing river that soothes and murmurs, then grows bright and strong until it swells into powerful, engulfing waves, only to fall back into hushed, meandering streams. The descriptions of the forests, palaces, monsters, and costumes captivate you with their details. The fighting and perilous adventures are tense and terrifying. And the intensity and passion of the encounters with Liwei will make you hope for romance to bloom.

Xingyin’s journey, from the moon to the Celestial Kingdom to the Mortal Realm, is tightly woven with heroes and villains and exceedingly strong characters that will steal your heart and make you hang on for dear life. Daughter of the Moon Goddess is an exquisite story and such a pleasure to read. But don’t go too quickly—savor every beautiful word.