Book Review: The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water

Zen Cho

Rating: 4 out of 5.

published: 23rd June 2020
spoilers? no


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.

Galley provided by publisher

I think it would be fair to say at this point that I will read anything Zen Cho ever writes. This novella has firmly cemented her as one of my favourite authors.

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water is a wuxia fantasy novella, following a group of bandits and a young nun who joins up with them. It reads a bit like the start of a whole world, like there could be more follow-up adventures, but one of the strengths of it is that it doesn’t feel like you’ve been dropped in, middle of the story, and are floundering. Zen Cho has this way of worldbuilding in a way you almost don’t notice because it flows so well within the story. There’s no point where you’re like, okay this is an exposition section, because it all fits together so seemlessly.

The book is, though, probably carried on the strength of its characters (that sounds like the rest of it is weak, but that’s not what I mean, really). The whole cast is wonderful and will have you laughing out loud at times. It’s the cast who will leave you wanting more of the book, not least because it ends (seemingly, to me) abruptly. You’ll read the book and you won’t want it to ever end, because the characters are that good.

Probably the reason I didn’t give this novella five stars is really the ending. Like I mentioned, it feels a little abrupt, as if it’s stopping almost in the middle of the narrative. You can see how it’s a good place to pause, sure, but it does leave you thinking, okay, what next? And then there’s what the ending actually consists of, but that’s spoilers. Just know it’s one of my least favourite things to do with a found family.

But anyway. Be ready for when this comes out because I will be making everyone I know read it.

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