Series: The Celestial Kingdom Duology #1
Published by Harper Voyager UK on January 19th, 2022
Genres: Fairy Tales & Folklore, Fantasy & Magic
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Barnes & Noble
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A fantasy inspired by the legend of the Chinese moon goddess, Chang’e , in which a young woman’s quest to free her mother pits her against the most powerful immortal in the realm and sets her on a dangerous path—where choices come with deadly consequences, and she risks losing more than her heart.
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,
The Good Things:
- One of my top reads of the year so far! It’s a beautiful fantasy retelling.
- I read this as part of a readalong! Thank you, Tandem Collective Global and HarperCollins Australia for hosting.
- The writing reminded me of Juliet Marillier, one of my favourite authors. It was gorgeous writing that sucked you into the story so easily, even when there wasn’t much action.
- It contained so many YA fantasy tropes and features I love: hidden identities, legendary weapons and monsters, elemental magic, impossible quests, and fascinating lore.
- There were more morally grey characters than I was expecting among the side characters! Xingyin has a strong moral compass, which I admire, so it was nice to have contrast with the other characters. I hope we get to explore some of these characters motivations in the sequel.
The Not-So-Good Things:
- This book has a love triangle and romantic relationships that didn’t feel fully developed.
- It’s rare that I like a love triangle, so I wasn’t surprised that I didn’t care for this one.
- Even though the romantic relationships took a long time to develop in the story timeline, it felt like they developed way too quickly if you look at page time. I like slow burn romances that build over an entire book or longer.
Overall, I really enjoyed this one. I wasn’t that big of a fan of the romance (I rarely enjoy any type of love triangle, and I also wanted more page time for the relationship development), but I loved pretty much everything else. The world is amazing, the writing is fantastic, and I really admired the main character.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Thank you, HarperCollins Australia, for sending me a copy of this book to read! And to Tandem Collective Global for organising the readalong.