cover image Tales of the Celestial Kingdom

Tales of the Celestial Kingdom

Sue Lynn Tan, illus. by Kelly Chong. Harper Voyager, $24.99 (176p) ISBN 978-0-06-332669-9

Tan returns to the fanciful world of her bestselling Celestial Kingdom duology (after Heart of the Sun Warrior) with this vibrant collection of nine stories each highlighting behind-the-scenes perspectives from her main characters. The moon goddess Chang’e narrates two prequel tales—“Rise of the Sunbirds” and “Goddess of the Moon”—sharing glimpses of her time with her husband, Houyi, before she became immortal. For his part, Houyi, the great archer and commander of the emperor’s army, reveals his unwavering loyalty to his duty in “The Ten Suns.” In “The Snow Ginseng Root” and “A Rival’s Spirit,” Liwei begins to realize his feelings for series heroine Xingyin but comes to understand that giving her what she truly wants means helping his romantic rival. Soldier Wenzhi fights side-by-side with Xingyin in “Battle with the Bone Devil” before reuniting with her during peace time in “Sun Moon Teahouse.” Finally, Xingyin herself gets a happily ever after in “Home” after watching her mortal beloved lose his memories. The tales are driven more by introspection than by plot, and though they offer few surprises, they represent a welcome chance to revisit favorite characters. This is a gift for series fans. Agent: Naomi Davis, BookEnds Literary. (Feb.)