I was ready to absolutely love this book. Honest! Fantasy, based on Chinese mythology, super stunning cover: check, check, check.
Xingyin lives on the moon with her mother, Chang’e, the Moon Goddess. Chang’e is loving, but sad, pining for her mortal husband. Xingyin leads a sheltered life, not realizing that her mother has hidden Xingyin’s very existence. When Xingyin reaches for her innate magic for the first time, it sets off a chain of events that lead her to flee from her home on the moon – where her mother, we find, is in exile.
Xingyin must find her way in the Celestial Kingdom, first in service, and then as companion to the Crown Prince, all the while hiding her identity and searching for a way to end her mother’s banishment. Ultimately, Xingyin joins the Army as her best shot at winning favor with the Emperor, the only person who can pardon her mother.
Things I liked about this book: the setting within Chinese mythology felt fresh. I also enjoyed that Xinying excelled in military pursuits – that seemed like an unusual choice.
Things I didn’t like about this book: the love triangle. Please spare me from a strong heroine who has to choose between two dudes. Also, the amount of space given to Xingyin agonizing about her feelings was truly staggering. This aspect of the plot gave the whole thing a very YA tone (which isn’t a bad thing in YA lit, but not what I was hoping for here). I also found the writing itself to be a bit repetitive. This book could have really benefitted from a strong edit; I would think there’s at least 50-100 pages here that could easily have been tightened up. I think I’ll be skipping book two.