With her debut novel, Tan combines lyrical prose evoking Madeline Miller with a reimagining of the beloved Chinese myth of Chang’e, the Moon Goddess. As a mortal, Chang’e steals the elixir of immortality that was a gift for her husband. For her theft, the Celestial Emperor sentences her to eternal imprisonment on the moon. Tan’s real twist comes in the reveal that Chang’e was pregnant at the time.
The novel follows her daughter’s many adventures through the Celestial Kingdom, trying to save herself and her mother from the wrath of the royals. Like Miller’s Circe, there’s a strong romantic element to the novel. However, part way through there is also a shift, where the tale begins to involve a great deal more action.
I tore through this book, mesmerized almost by the first page, with by the sheer beauty of the writing and the compelling voice of the main character. A must-read for fans of mythology.