Review of The Archer Who Shot Down Suns: Scale-Bright Stories by Benjanun Sriduangkaew

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The Archer Who Shot Down Suns: Scale Bright Stories by Benjanun Sriduangkaew. ★★★

(Note – at the time I’m writing this is free on Kindle)

This collection contains three stories retelling Chinese mythology. In retrospect, it’s probably not a good idea to read something based on Chinese mythology when you know absolutely nothing about Chinese mythology. So, that’s quite possibly behind why this book didn’t do much for me. Ultimately, it was probably worth reading (at least the last two stories), just not reading again.

However, if you like either Chinese mythology or lesbians, this is the book for you!

Given that this is a short story collection, I think it’s best to talk about the individual stories.

1.”The Crows Her Dragon’s Gate”

Summary: The story of Xihe, the mother of suns, when she was young and the world was new: how she met her husband, lost herself, and found it again.

I found this to be the weakest story. Xihe came off as rather cold in places, and I found the events of the story very confusing. Again, this may be because I know absolutely nothing about Chinese mythology.

“Woman of the Sun, Woman of the Moon”

Summary: Houyi rose in heaven, bow and arrow in hand: the hunt was her joy, the slaying of demons her delight. But most delightful was a serving girl called Chang’e.

I understood this story better. After Houyi, an archer goddess, shoots down nine of the ten suns, she faces the repercussions of a life of mortality, all the while accompanied by Chang’e, her wife, and the story of how they meet and marry is intertwined with the main story arch. I liked both Houyi and Chang’e much more than Xihe.

“Chang’e Dashes from the Moon”

Summary: Chang’e has been a prisoner on the moon while the world turns and cities rise. For centuries Houyi has looked for a way to free her wife, and now she has found it in a distant grand-niece: a young mortal woman named Julienne.

This story was almost a direct continuation from the last, and I think it’s probably the strongest of the three.

This book’s great if you’re looking for a more diverse read – all the characters are Chinese and about two thirds of the major characters are lesbians. It’s also well written and fairly interesting, but you may want to spend some time on Wikipedia before diving into it.

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