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Book Review: Daughter of the Moon Goddess (The Celestial Kingdom #1) (ARC)

Expected publication: January 11th 2022

Author: Sue Lynn Tan

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.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess is the first novel in a new duology based on the myth of Chang’e, who was forced to be in exile by the Celestial Emperor after drinking the elixir of immortality that was gifted to her husband, HouYi, from the gods. While I initially wanted to read this book based solely on the gorgeous cover, the captivating story made me stay and want to learn more. This story follows the daughter of Chang’e, Xingyin, as she sets off to free her mother and release her from exile. Through the story, there are love interests introduced, adventure, and some very interesting creatures, including dragons!

The world-building in this story is lush as it is easy to imagine everything through the descriptions. As this is part of a series, the pacing in this novel is slower as the characters, plot, and world are built up before the story concludes in the sequel. The middle did seem a bit repetitive at times, for me, as there were multiple quests that were interesting, but did not feel completely necessary to dedicate any pages. The story does come back together in the end with the inclusion of some nice plot twists, so the middle section did not affect my overall enjoyment.  While this pacing worked for me, it is not for every type of reader as some could potentially consider it boring to spend a lot of time on build-up and descriptions.

Liwei, the Crown Prince of the Celestial Kingdom, and Wenzhi, a general/captain in the Celestial Kingdom military, are interesting secondary characters and soon become the love interests for Xingyin. Both offer different sides, which made this an interesting triangle and I did not favor one over the other. The two characters themselves were enjoyable and I cannot wait to learn more about them as they are developed, but there is still so much I want to know about each. As a protagonist, Xingyin was enjoyable as she begins to explore the world around her. She keeps her goal at the forefront and stays true to herself while still going through character development. There are moments where it seems that everything works out too well or comes too easy for her, so I wish there was a little more struggle just to add some more tension.

Overall, this was a solid debut novel and a great start to a duology. While some pieces are wrapped up, there is still a lot more to be explored in the sequel. There are many tropes in this story that are well done, including many romantic ones. A lot of information is packed into the novel, which can be overwhelming for some readers, but it worked for me. While the reader gets to know a lot about the world and characters in this installment, there is still a lot I want to learn in the sequel.  This was a very interesting and captivating story filled with magic, romance, politics, and adventure, so I cannot wait to see what the finale brings!

**I give a special thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Harper Voyager, for the opportunity to read this entertaining novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**

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