ARC Review: Tales of the Celestial Kingdom by Sue Lynn Tan

Today’s review is about TALES OF THE CELESTIAL KINGDOM by Sue Lynn Tan. It’s a compilation of short stories, from familiar characters, that occur before, during, and after the Celestial Kingdom duology. They offer insights into what these characters were up to behind the scenes. I recommend reading the duology beforehand since there are spoilers.

Author: Sue Lynn Tan
Series: The Celestial Kingdom #2.5
Age Category: Adult
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publish Date: February 6, 2024
Print Length: 176

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Official Synopsis

Sue Lynn Tan’s highly acclaimed, bestselling Celestial Kingdom duology is expanded with this new compilation of stories from before, during, and after the events in Daughter of the Moon Goddess and Heart of the Sun Warrior, all from the perspectives of beloved characters.

Return to the Immortal Realm, a world of gods, magic, and legendary creatures–and embark upon new adventures of valor, danger, and love.

Tales from the Celestial Kingdom collects nine spellbinding stories–two previously published, seven original, including the epilogue to the duology–set in the enchanting world of Sue Lynn Tan’s stunning debut. Filled with magic and mythology, friendship and love, these stories intertwine through the past, present, and future of the two novels, told from the perspectives of multiple characters, including Chang’e, Shuxiao, Liwei, and Wenzhi.

With beautiful illustrations from Kelly Chong throughout, these wondrous tales make the perfect complement to Sue Lynn Tan’s breathtaking series.

My Review

I received a free, digital, advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. My review is my own and reflects my honest opinion about this book.

TALES OF THE CELESTIAL KINGDOM is a compilation of short stories that occur before, during, and after the events of the associated duology. Thus, to avoid spoilers I recommend first reading DAUGHTER OF THE MOON GODDESS (DOTMG) and HEART OF THE SUN WARRIOR (HOTSW). However, the beautiful prose alone is enough to tempt new readers to dive right into this collection.

Each story is a different point of view divided into different times of the day and parts of the larger story. This compilation first starts with Dusk and stories from Chang’e and Houyi leading up to the start of DOTMG. Time then moves to Twilight during which the reader encounters stories from Liwei, Wenzhi, and Shuxiao. These occur over the span of both books from the Celestial Kingdom duology. Finally comes Dawn, the stories of which are from Wenzhi and Xingyin, and occur after the end of HOTSW.

These points of view offer a glimpse into these characters’ lives in the past and future. This allows readers to have more insight into the thoughts and reasoning behind various characters’ decisions. Though Xingyin is a fantastic character throughout the duology, it was refreshing to read events through others’ eyes.

Houyi’s story in the Dusk chapter showcases his unshakeable moral compass to save the mortal realm from the devastating heat of the sunbirds. Also, Chang’e’s stories show her deep devotion to Houyi, her inner strength, and why she drank the immortal elixir. In the Twilight chapter, readers go on a short adventure with Liwei and Xingyin to gather berries from the snow ginseng root. There is also more “behind the scenes” with Wenzhi and Xingying battling the Bone Devil and Shuxiao freeing the Celestials in the Jade Palace. Finally, the last few stories provide insight into Liwei’s emotions about his broken relationship with Xingyin, Wenzhi’s life in the mortal realm, and Xingyin’s and Wenzhi’s reunification.

Like the novels in the duology, I just loved Tan’s writing style. It’s lovely and slightly poetic without overdoing the similes and metaphors. Jumping back into the lives of the characters felt like sinking into the comforting embrace of a loved one. Reading about Liwei’s thoughts and emotions also offered some closure regarding the history between him and Xingyin. Additionally, there are lovely illustrations by Kelly Chong sprinkled throughout the stories.

If you loved the duology and didn’t want to let it go, definitely pick up TALES OF THE CELESTIAL KINGDOM. It’s like coming home after a long while and picking up right where you left off. Read about these characters’ drive to do right, gentle strength, resolve, and love.

Rating: 4
Content warnings: death
Reading format: Kindle e-book

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