Book Review: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Next up on the Calligraphy Guild comp titles list is one I almost didn’t read, lol. I saw this one in the bookstore a couple months ago and didn’t feel like I got a lot of information from the blurb so I just kind of moved on, but after being disappointed by Spin the Dawn and Daughter of the Moon Goddess (reviews linked) I asked for other Asian fantasy recommendations and Where the Mountain Meets the Moon came up again. My library had it, and I’m really glad I checked this one out!

Synopsis

In the valley of Fruitless Mountain, a young girl named Minli spends her days working hard in the fields and her nights listening to her father spin fantastic tales about the Jade Dragon and the Old Man of the Moon. Minli’s mother, tired of their poor life, chides him for filling her head with nonsense. But Minli believes these enchanting stories and embarks on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man of the Moon and ask him how her family can change their fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest.

Review

The writing style of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon was more distant than I usually prefer, but it was well-suited to the folklore tone of the story. Minli’s journey was fun to follow, and I enjoyed the thoughtful encounters she had along the way. The pace was a great balance for delving into the theme without ever feeling like the story dragged, and I loved the thematic parallels between Minli’s arc and her mother’s.

Probably my favorite thing about Where the Mountain Meets the Moon was the way it not only talked about the impact of stories but showed that impact throughout, from the stories told formally to the ways characters used storytelling more casually to sell goldfish or trick evil tigers. The way all of the formal stories tied together was also really neat and helped round out the world, which was also a really strong element.

This review is briefer than some of my others primarily for two reasons: First, because it’s not a very long book. It’s MG, so it moves pretty quickly. Second… I read it two weeks ago and have a royally patchy memory. 😅 But I really enjoyed Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and it’s among my favorite Calligraphy Guild comp titles!

General rating: 4 stars

Similarity to Calligraphy Guild: 4.5 stars (thoughtful pacing, deep themes throughout, the emphasis on storytelling and its power, the family dynamics, the Asian setting)

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