Daughter of the Moon Goddess

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Xingyin’s mother is the moon goddess, imprisoned on the moon for stealing the elixir of immortality from Xingyin’s father. When Xingyin’s presence is felt by the Celestial Empress, Xingyin must flee her home and hide her identity. A chance encounter with Prince Liwei leads Xingyin to become his study companion and, after years of study with him, she joins the Celestial Army. As Xingyin embarks on daring quests, she works hard to earn the favor of the Celestial Emperor in order to free her mother. 

This is an intricately plotted, deeply atmospheric story. I really enjoyed the world building as we visited different areas of both the immortal and mortal realms. I thought it was easy to visualize each place and descriptions of the setting were richly detailed and immersive. I also loved the writing style. I found it lyrically written and very riveting. 

The book has a good balance of action and interpersonal relationships, though for a character-driven novel I thought the characters were not super developed. Xingyin is a strong, resilient woman, but things come pretty easily to her and she has little growth throughout the story. The other main characters, Prince Liwei and Captain Wenzhi, have very little development over the course of the story as well. I enjoyed the characters; I just wish they had been better realized.  

My main problem with this book is that it feels like 3 or 4 books. It’s incredibly long and so much happens in the story, but it’s a lot of telling rather than showing. Events that you think are going to be major to the plot are completely thrown away in a paragraph. For example, I thought the trials to become Prince Liwei’s study companion would be a major arc of the book, but instead it’s resolved in about three pages. Xingyin just has to make a tea and play a song on the flute to prove herself a worthy companion? That makes no sense to me. Likewise, it seems like the quest for the dragon’s pearls is going to be a major part of the book, but instead Xingyin quickly finds one dragon who then releases all the other ones and they just give her their pearls. There are many other storylines within this book that feel like they should’ve been bigger components of the story, or included in a different book, but instead are rushed through. I thought these decisions messed up the pacing of the novel and were ultimately just confusing. 

Still, I did enjoy the story and was able to breeze through it despite the length. It’s romantic, lush, and lyrical. I’m not familiar with the Chinese legend that the story is based on, but I thought this reimagining was inventive and thoughtful. 

If you’ve read Daughter of the Moon Goddess be sure to tell me what you thought!

Published by Kristi

Hi there! I am Kristi, a book obsessed human with strong opinions. Join me as I read across genres and do the work to find you the best of the best books.

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