When I found an email in my inbox from NetGalley, my breath caught in my throat. As soon as I opened it, I had to suppress a scream while my body starting shaking - I had been approved for an ARC of the second book in Sue Lynn Tan's Celestial Kingdom duology, Heart of the Sun Warrior. I read the first book (and her debut novel!) Daughter of the Moon Goddess at the beginning of the year and have been anxiously awaiting this release ever since.

All thoughts contained in this review are my own.
Many thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers for this advanced copy!

As this is a sequel, this review may contain spoilers for book one in the duology, Daughter of the Moon Goddess.

In this breathtaking conclusion to the Celestial Kingdom duology, Xingyin has won the freedom of her mother and is able to return to her home on the moon where all she wishes for is quiet and peaceful existence away from the animosity of the Celestial Kingdom. When strangers arrive at their home and a strange new magic is discovered, Xingyin is again forced to flee her home, this time with her mother (and other loved ones) by her side. With a new terror threatening both the Immortal and Mortal Realms, Xingyin must work through her complicated feelings and find allies in places that she never imagined she would.

Myths and legends have always felt like stale, old, and dusty, but Sue Lynn Tan brought life, elegance, and a sense of modernity to Chinese mythology that took my breath away. Diving back into this world after an approximately seven month break felt just as magical as the first time around.

After the events of book one, Xingyin's reactions and motivations are incredibly relatable. She holds grudges, she's suspicious, and she just wants to be left alone. But when a battle comes for her, she falls back into her warrior training and once again does what she has to in order to protect those she loves.

I never felt safe reading this book. There were times where I felt like I knew where the story would go and other moments that shocked me to my core. Tan weaved a story that felt grounded in reality and human emotions with elements that felt larger than life.

Most of the characters, whether new or old, felt fully fleshed out and it was easy to understand where each person was coming from. The main antagonist of the book surprised me when first revealed but felt very logical as the story progressed. The book is separated into three parts and each part ended in a way that made me bawl my eyes out (in joy or sadness? You'll have to see for yourself!).

There were a couple new characters introduced that I would have liked to see more of (I wouldn't mind a spin-off story following them, if I'm being honest). But that might be my only complaint about this book, other than wishing there would be more.

If you enjoyed Tan's debut Daughter of the Moon Goddess, buckle up. Her sophomore novel lives up to the high expectations of the first novel while elevating expectations for future projects (from Tan as well as others who choose to incorporate mythology into their novels).

Heart of the Sun Warrior hits shelves November 15, 2022 and is available to preorder now wherever books are sold. An exclusive edition is available at Waterstones now with another coming to FairyLoot later this month.