Review: THE ORDER OF THE PURE MOON REFLECTED IN WATER by Zen Cho

Publisher: Tor.com
Page Count: 160
Release Date: June 23rd, 2020
Series: Standalone
Rating: 3/5 Stars – Liked It

Note: I was given a free ARC of this book by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in  WaterAll Lau Fung Cheung and Tet Sang wanted was a cup of coffee.  But when they intervene on behalf of a waitress accused of witchcraft by an irate customer, they find themselves saddled with a new traveling companion. Guet Imm is a nun of the Order of the Pure Moon, forced into hiding after her temple was destroyed in the on-going war plaguing the countryside. She believes her encounter with the bandits is a sign from the deity that she should travel with them.  Which is unfortunate for Fung Cheung and Tet Sang since they’re traveling with contraband the nun DEFINITELY won’t approve of.

THE ORDER OF THE PURE MOON REFLECTED IN WATER is a diverting story of people just trying to get by in a world falling apart.  In broad strokes, we are introduced to a world that is engaged in what one character refers to as a “silent war” between occupying Protectorate forces and “bandits” (rebels who are trying to retake the homeland).  There’s violence between the two factions, but nobody in the towns openly discusses it, for fear of being accused of supporting the wrong side.  This is a novella that captures the tension of never knowing if armed forces are there to help you or to destroy your livelihood, where the answer to that question could change depending on the day. In the middle of all this mess is our family of bandits, misfits and outcasts, working as “contractors” to make money to survive.

By far the standout character here is Guet Imm, the witty, insightful nun who nonetheless is somewhat naive about the world, having spent the last decade in monastic seclusion.  The occasions when you get to watch her run mental circles around the bandits, causing them to agree to things while they’re still realizing they’re being asked, are the best parts of the book. The rest of the cast is unfortunately somewhat one dimensional, aside from Tet Sang, whose own past is revealed to have indirect ties to Guet Imm’s.  Tet Sang usually is the one trying to corral Guet Imm, and it’s through the conversations between the two that we get the most insight about the themes of war and identity.

THE ORDER OF THE PURE MOON REFLECTED IN WATER is a good light-fantasy novella to curl up on the couch with for an afternoon, a pleasant story, if not a particularly memorable one.  I enjoyed the time I spent reading it, but it never was deep enough, nor the stakes high enough, for there to be a “Wow” moment.  Still, if you love unlikely pairings, this is a good book to pick up.

 

 

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