The Order of Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho review

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho

Paul reviews The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water, a standalone fantasy novella by Zen Cho.

About the Book
Series: N/AGenre: Fantasy
Date of Publishing: June 23, 2020Trigger Warnings: N/A
Page count: 176Publisher: Tor.com
Book Blurb
The Order of Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho

Zen Cho returns with a found family wuxia fantasy that combines the vibrancy of old school martial arts movies with characters drawn from the margins of history.

A bandit walks into a coffeehouse, and it all goes downhill from there. Guet Imm, a young votary of the Order of the Pure Moon, joins up with an eclectic group of thieves (whether they like it or not) in order to protect a sacred object, and finds herself in a far more complicated situation than she could have ever imagined.

Review

While The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water (Pure Moon) may look, and perhaps seem, a light read given its diminutive size and wry, breezy writing style—it’s anything but.

Sure, the plot is relatively simple— a planned deal goes south and must be salvaged— and yes, there are only three characters who are expanded upon. But, there is a deceptive amount of depth to Pure Moon and an endless ocean of charm.

My knowledge of East Asian culture and Wuxia is sadly lacking, but this was in no way an impediment to my enjoyment.

Pure Moon opens with an exhilarating introduction where the three main characters of Guet Imm, Lau Fung Cheung, and Tet Sang meet inside of a tearoom brawl. It’s a fantastic scene, with all the energetic bravado you’d expect.

Now I went into Pure Moon with zero expectations, so I wasn’t disappointed when the tempo of the novella slowed after this point. While there are a couple of other action scenes, the narrative’s trajectory is slower and far more character-driven than you’d expect given the opening.

For me, that wasn’t at all a negative as I felt that I was able to savour everything thanks to the slower pacing.

The three main characters are afforded an awful lot of breathing room to just exist and vibe with one another. The relationship between them has a beautiful, lip-biting discordance, with no small amount of bickering and veiled comments. It’s really engaging and super fun to see these relationships develop, and that there is such growth in but 150 pages alongside a fully developed plot—tremendous.

Even the side characters, despite their brevity, feel as though they have fully formed albeit more abstract personalities. The ‘gang’ has that rough-edged but found-family feeling, which I love seeing in these eclectic groups of people.

Zen Cho’s writing style, despite being quite direct, as is perhaps necessary to drive a smaller story, carries with it a great deal of humour and, even with the reduced word count, builds such a vibrant and interesting world.

Finally, interlaced between the great characters and plot, you have themes of change, identity, religion, and philosophy, to list but a few.

Pure Moon is a definite recommendation from me, it’s an enjoyable, quick read, and I think you’ll take a lot away from it.

Our Judgement
Let Their Deeds Be Noted - 4 Crowns

Paul is a man of few words but the owner of many, many books. While he is predominately a reader of sci-fi and fantasy, he has a passion for all things ancient and medieval, so historical fiction/non-fiction litter his chaotic shelves like potsherds at a dig site. Raised on The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, he fell in love with fantasy at an extremely young age but soon began devouring science-fiction after his mother stole him a copy of 2010: Odyssey Two from a hospital library. In a previous life, he’s been a biomedical scientist and an immunological researcher, but these days is a civil servant who spends his days wishing he wasn’t. Paul lives on the gelid shores of North East England, where he lives with his glorious wife and two cat-shaped demons.

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