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.
As the title of this book review states, this might be my favorite fantasy of the year (as of April). And I have read a lot of good fantasy this year (She Who Became the Son, Six Crimson Cranes, Legendborn, Little Thieves) to name a few. This novel took the war intrigue and protagonist bad-assery from She Who Became the Sun and combined it with strong relationship-building to form, quite literally, my perfect fantasy story.
Sue Lynn Tan is an expert at playing with my emotions. There were several times reading this book where my heart dropped, and I had to put it down for a few minutes. The relationships were so complicated, and I could not see an easy fix to any of the problems. It was truly heart-wrenching but in the best possibly way because Tan’s writing is exquisite.
I’m not sure how she does it, but every line of Tan’s writing just feels magical. I don’t need beautiful writing to enjoy a story, but, man, does it seriously make a difference.
I could not believe this was a debut novel when I did some research after finishing. I am so excited to see what is next for Xingyin and for Tan’s writing.