I won this in a goodreads giveaway. While I don’t have enough info to write a full review yet, please enjoy these highlights from chapter 1 of Sue Lynn Tan’s Daughter of the Moon Goddess.
- Xingyin narrating 3: We lived in a palace built from shining white stone, with columns of mother-of-pearl and a sweeping roof of pure silver. Its vast rooms were filled with cinnamon-wood furniture, their spicy fragrance wafting through the air. A forest of white osmanthus trees surrounded us with a single laurel in its midst, bearing luminous seeds with an ethereal shimmer. No wind nor bird, not even my hands could pluck them, they cleaved to the branches as steadfastly as the stars to the sky.
- Xingyin narrating 4: Sometimes I woke just before dawn and found her still standing there, her eyes shrouded in memory. Unable to bear the sadness in her face, I wrapped my arms around her, my head just coming up to her waist. She flinched at my touch as though roused from a dream, before stroking my hair and bringing me back to my room.
- Ping’er 4: Some scars are carved into our bones―a part of who we are, shaping what we become.
- Xingyin narrating 4: My painting was passable, and my embroidery dismal, but it did not matter when it was music I fell in love with.
- Xingyin narrating 5: On my fifteenth birthday, my mother gifted me a small, white jade flute that I carried everywhere in a silk pouch that hung from my waist. It was my favorite instrument, its tone so pure even the birds would fly up to the moon to listen―though part of me believed they came to gaze at my mother, too.
- Xingyin narrating 5: Her face was shaped like a melon seed and her skin glowed with the luster of a pearl. Delicate brows arched over slender jet-black eyes which curved into crescents when she smiled. Gold pins gleamed from the dark coils of her hair and a red peony was tucked in one side. Her inner garment was the blue of the noon sky, paired with a white and silver robe that flowed to her ankles. Wrapped around her waist was a vermilion sash, ornamented with tassels of silk and jade. Some nights, as I lay in bed, I would listen out for their gentle clink, and sleep came easy knowing she was near.
- Xingyin narrating 5: My skin was darker, my eyes rounder, and my jaw more angular with a cleft in the center. Perhaps I resembled my father? I did not know; I had never met him.
- Xingyin narrating 6: The mortals intrigued me, because my mother gazed at their world with such yearning. Their stories fascinated me with their struggles for love, power, survival―although I had little comprehension of such intrigues in my sheltered confines. I read everything I could lay my hands on, but my favorites were the tales of valiant warriors battling enemies to protect their loved ones.
- Xingyin narrating 6: From its rough stitch bindings, it appeared to be a mortal text. Its cover was so faded, I could barely make out the painting of an archer aiming a silver bow at ten suns in the sky. I traced the faint details of a feather within the orbs. No, not suns but birds, curled into balls of flame.
- Xingyin narrating 6: Ten sunbirds rose in the sky, scorching the earth and causing great suffering. No crops could grow on the charred soil and there was no water to drink from the parched rivers.
- Xingyin narrating 7: Just when all hope seemed lost, a fearless warrior named Houyi took up his enchanted bow of ice. He shot his arrows into the sky, slaying nine of the sunbirds and leaving one to light the earth―
The book was snatched from me.
- Xingyin narrating 8: It was little wonder that my mother appeared haunted all this time, trapped in her memories. What had happened to my father? Was he still in the Mortal Realm? How did we end up here? Yet I gulped back my questions, as my mother wiped her tears away. Oh, how I wanted to know, but I would not hurt her to ease my selfish curiosity.
Time to an immortal was as rain to the boundless ocean. Ours was a peaceful life, a pleasant one, and the years passed by as though they were weeks. Who knows how many decades would have swept by in this manner if my life had not been tossed into turmoil, as a leaf torn from its branch by the wind?
- Xingyin narrating 9: Beyond my window, the evening sun infused the sky with threads of rose and gold.
- Xingyin narrating 10: Her words―tumbling out in a rush―startled me, despite the excitement which sparked within.
- Xingyin narrating 11: A strange flutter in the pit of my stomach spread icy tendrils through my core.
- Xingyin narrating 11: When would I get another chance to see her, one of the most powerful immortals in the realm? And she might even be wearing her Phoenix Crown, said to be crafted from feathers of pure gold and embellished with a hundred luminous pearls.
As silent as a shadow, I tiptoed down the long corridor that led from my room to the Silver Harmony Hall―the grandest room in our Pure Light Palace―with its marble floor, jade lamps, and silk hangings. Wooden pillars set into ornate silver bases added a touch of warmth to its pristine elegance.
- Xingyin narrating 12: She was not wearing a crown, but an elaborate headdress crafted with jeweled leaves and flowers which clinked as she moved. As I stared at it―enthralled―a bud unfurled, blossoming into an amethyst orchid.
- Xingyin narrating 12: She was dazzling, but her glossy lips against her white skin made me think of freshly spilled blood on snow.
As befitting her exalted position, the empress had not come alone. Six attendants stood behind her―along with a tall immortal man, his complexion darker than the rest. Flat pieces of amber adorned his black hat, his inky robes were fastened with a bronze sash, and white gloves covered his hands.
- Xingyin narrating 14-15: The sky had darkened into the elusive violet-gray of dusk, when the last of day gives way to night.
- Chang’e 17: A palace you cannot escape is a prison nonetheless.
- Chang’e 17: I am to blame, too. I told you not to reach for your magic, but I should have explained why―that it might alert the Celestial Kingdom to your presence.
- Xingyin narrating 19: Leaning toward me then, she fastened something around bmy neck. A gold necklace with a small jade disc. It was the color of spring leaves, with a carving of a dragon on its surface. My fingers rubbed the cool stone, feeling a thin crack in the rim.
- Xingyin narrating 20: The thousand lanterns illuminated the soil, the silver roof tiles reflected the stars.
- Xingyin narrating 20: As I followed Ping’er toward the cloud which would carry us away, pain struck my heart so sharp and clear―it fractured―only kept whole by a slender thread of hope.
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