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 Xingyin’s magic flares and her existence is discovered, she is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind.
Alone, untrained, 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 Crown Prince, mastering archery and magic, even as passion flames between her and the emperor’s son.
To save her mother, Xingyin embarks on a perilous quest, confronting legendary creatures and vicious enemies across the earth and skies. When treachery looms and forbidden magic threatens the kingdom, however, 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.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review & can confirm all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Xingyin has grown up on the moon, as the secret daughter of the Moon Goddess she has had to hide all her life from the Celestial Emperor who sentenced her mother to imprisonment on the Moon. But one day her magic flares, bringing the prying eyes of the Empress to the Moon and Chang’E, her mother, knows that she has to let her go for her to survive. Now alone in the Celestial Empire, Xingyin has no hope of ever returning to her mother, or breaking the enchantment that forces her to stay on the Moon, until one day she accidentally stumbles upon the Crown Prince and sets into motion a series of events that could change both herself, and the Empire forever. Through her time in the Celestial Empire Xingyin will learn many skills, and fight in many battles, but the most difficult battle she faces may be that of the heart.
I will admit, reading the synopsis for this book I expected a certain kind of character going in, you know, the kind with revenge on their mind. The ones who will stop at nothing to right the wrongs that have been done to them, the one’s who worm their way into places only to bring them crashing to the ground. And, while Xingyin certainly has no love for the Celestial Emperor, instead of trying to bring them down, she works hard for their favour, hoping they will eventually grant her wish of freeing her mother. I really loved how Xingyin never schemed or plotted, but instead used her skills to become invaluable to the Empire, coming to love the people within, and I found her as a character utterly refreshing if not a little naive in parts. She isn’t one to back down, and I loved how she stuck to her moral code throughout he book no matter the danger or the deceit.
There are a multitude of side characters in this book and, though they all play a back burner to Xingyin’s story, they effortlessly leap off the page nonetheless. From Crowned Prince Lewei, the boy that steals her heart, to Shuxiao her first true friend, they bring with them love, friendship, betrayal and respect and all have a large part to play in Xingyin’s story.
Daughter of the Mood Goddess moves at a breakneck pace, there really was no good place to stop reading, and while I enjoyed flying through the story, I did feel that the speed in general meant that some parts just lacked development. I never struggled to get my heard around any part of the book, be it who characters were or the world building but, and this is personal preference, I like a little more depth in my stories. I felt like I struggled to bond with Xingyin as a character because of how fast the plot moved. It just lacked any real stakes for me, even though she ends up in plenty of dangerous situations and, adding in the predictability of the ending I found myself coasting through the last 25% of the book.
If you’ve followed me for a while then you know I love mythology and boy did this book have it in spades. Add in Tan’s lush and lyrical writing style and, despite struggling with the plot, I have to admit there wasn’t a word wasted. The author grabs you headfirst and drags you into the Celestial Kingdom and I can’t wait to see a map of it because it just sounds like it would be beautiful. The way she gives the different kingdoms different cultures and beliefs was incredibly well done and, even though the story went at a break neck pace, we never lack for world building or descriptive writing to immerse you in the story.
I didn’t love the romance arc, I found it a little predictable, and it wasn’t one of my favourite love triangles I will admit, but it does play a rather large part in the story. The only real times we see Xingyin veering from her goal is when she is with Liwei, she doesn’t want to loose what they have, but is also determined to save her mother. At first I enjoyed seeing her internal battle, it showed the strength of her character and her beliefs, but it got overly repetitive and by the end I genuinely didn’t care whether they got together or not.
This was such a difficult review to write. There was so much I loved about this book, but as a whole it just didn’t work for me. I definitely think I will be in the minority when it comes to my opinions, but I do feel like this book could have been fleshed out significantly more had it ended at around 60% and kept the rest for the second book in the duology.