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The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  3,465 ratings  ·  874 reviews
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 p
ebook, 176 pages
Published June 23rd 2020 by Publishing
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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
3.5 stars. Now on sale! Full review, first posted on Fantasy Literature:

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water is a surprisingly warmhearted fantasy novella set in a war-torn Asian country. It’s a queer take on wuxia, a time-honored genre of Chinese fiction based on heroes skilled in the martial arts, frequently in superhuman, fantastical ways (think Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or even Kung Fu Panda).

One day, in a small coffeehouse, a customer angrily accuses his waitress of using jamp
Melissa ~ Bantering Books
Be sure to visit Bantering Books to read all my latest reviews.

Gimme more. I want more.

In her wuxia fantasy novella, The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water, Zen Cho tells the entertaining tale of Guet Imm, a young Asian votary who joins a band of thieves to protect a sacred religious artifact.

What’s wuxia fantasy? Think, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. In a book.

No doubt, Pure Moon is pure fun. The story, fueled by both magic and martial arts, has some great action and fantastical fight
“But when she said there was nobody in the house, that made me wonder who counted as somebody.”

So What’s It About?

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.

What I Thought

Last year I delighted in Zen Cho’s Sorcerer Ro
K.J. Charles
An utter delight. Charming, appropriately violent, lovely relationships, apparently effortless and limpid worldbuilding that conveys an amazing amount in very little space. Beautifully written, of course, with funny dialogue and delightful characters covering some deep and serious themes. Zen Cho really is outstandingly good.
Mar 18, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2021-reads
This is a story brimming with so much potential, but in the end it felt not quite realized. It needed to be a full fantasy novel but ended up confined in a light novella which did not do it justice.

In the end, I was left wanting more. Because this light and airy novella flowed well, but left me unimpressed and unsatisfied in the end precisely because of how light it was. Light on the plot, the characters development and worldbuilding — but with enough snappy banter (almost romcom style, really)
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell
This sounds so good and the cover is GORGEOUS
Rebecca Roanhorse
Jan 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
A light-hearted novella about identity, spirituality, gender and found family with some great character banter and a few brief but fun action scenes. A nice escape for an afternoon.
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a tough novella to review without wading into spoiler territory.

The way that Zen Cho's new novella The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water began was a major feint. It seemed like it was going to lean into an action-oriented saga of black magic and banditry, bounty hunting and showdowns. Instead, it throws a massive curveball and tells a powerful story of identity and how it evolves across different people, customs, and lands. An underlying theme I took away is discovering your tru
Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars, rounded up

taking off .5 just because I agree with most people that I think this would’ve worked a lot better as a full-length novel rather than a novella. I feel like I just wanted more out of it but only because I loved what I was reading so much

would not mind more queer found-family wuxia in my life if I’m being honest :’)
Jan 11, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very pretty, almost delicate tale, as beautifully woven as the cover was drawn.

After a chance meeting (or was it?) in a coffee house, nun Guet Imm joins a band of bandits. As she discovers to her shock, her country is at war, the old faiths are being eradicated. Thus, a sacred object is not only dangerous to possess but also valuable and therefore difficult to protect. But that is exactly what they do.

I was indeed reminded of some martial arts movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. There
Jan 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021-shelf, fantasy
Delightful, fast-paced silkpunk.

Part woman-civilizes-men, part banditry, part heart-warming friendships, this quasi-kung-fu tale was just what the Holy Woman called for.

Honestly, I got serious Avatar vibes from this novella. Tea shop scenes. :)

I'll definitely keep my eyes open for more like this.
It’s more of a solid 3.5.

To tell the truth, I’ve not read any of the author’s previous novels nor have I ever felt interested to. But this novella instantly captured my interest with that gorgeous cover, and maybe that’s me being vain, but I was captivated and the premise also sounded quite promising. So I was very happy when I got the ARC and even more when I picked to read it on the first day of Asian Heritage month.

I have to admit I felt slightly misguided by the blurb. I’m a huge fan of ma
May 06, 2020 rated it liked it
Overall, I think this was a fun, exciting story, but I only really connected with two characters in the group. I had a lot of fun reading this, but it fell somewhat flat for me.

I was given an arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This is cute and I genuinely did not expect that twist. I didn’t buy the romantic endgame (kinda came out of the left field), but the religious discussion and adventure subplot are fun. Glad that my library hold came in so quickly after release day. Yay, libraries!
Amy Imogene Reads
May 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
Rare to get a short novella that manages to keep it brief, delight, AND keep you turning the pages with breathless whimsy and clever turns.

Writing: ★★★★ 1/2
Humor: ★★★★
World building: ★★★ 1/2

I never know how to go about reviewing short novellas. Because the minute you get into explaining the plot, you're at the risk of overexplaining and pseudo-spoiling some of the surprises!

So get ready for a very, VERY short and sweet review: I thought this was great, and if you like novellas then I think you
Finished this in the after Christmas chaos this afternoon! It was a delightful, adventurous, very funny, and queer story about a nun who joins a group of bandits planning to sell religious crystals from a ransacked temple. I didn't pick up on this as I wasn't familiar, but I see in reviews that there are lots of fun Malaysian cultural details too. The characters and their relationships with one another are wonderfully drawn and the banter is truly hilarious. I was laughing out loud on like the s ...more
CW (The Quiet Pond) ✨
This is not a wuxia fantasy with action-packed fight scenes. It's better: The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water is a thought-provoking, funny, and gentle Malaysian-influenced story with the found family trope, identity, and spirituality.

- Follows an anchoress who joins up with a gang of misfit bandits who try to find their place in the world while also trying to survive.
- I did not expect that this novella would be so FUNNY? There are some genuinely funny moments and the banter is great
destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
Hmn... I'm going to have to sit on this one for a little while before I rate it. RTC ...more
TS Chan
Jul 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc-review-copy
ARC received from the publisher,, in exchange for an honest review.

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water is a Malaysian-based fantasy with a semi-wuxia flavour that was an absolutely delightful slice of home.

When I first discovered that Zen Cho is a London-based Malaysian Chinese author, I was keen to read to her works. I've since read and enjoyed Sorceror to the Crown, a Regency-era fantasy of manners, and noticed that she has incorporated some elements of her home country. Not
Ash | Wild Heart Reads
It starts with a bandit, a wanted poster and an argument in a coffeehouse. Said bandit soon finds an newly out-of-work votary of the Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water sneaking into his camp. The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water is a found family wuxia fantasy.

It's a fun, short book to read. There are shenanigans, banter and great characters. I've read some novellas where, despite being a novella, it still manages to drag. This isn't the case here, Cho keeps it well plotted and t
Eon ♒Windrunner♒
3.5 stars

Zen Cho is an author whose previous work I have enjoyed a lot, but in all honesty, what first drew my attention to this book was not the author or the title, but the beautiful, captivating illustration done by Sija Hong for the cover.

Add in that blurb teasing a found family, wuxia fantasy story involving a nun joining up with a group of bandits in order to protect a sacred object but finding herself in a situation far more complicated than she expected and yes, my tbr mountain found its
The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water is a novella that reflects the found family trope in a wuxia-inspired fantasy plot by bringing together a group of bandits and a nun while they journey through a war-torn world that isn't just about violence but also about it. Not only does it raise the tension and complexity of striking underground deals or saving themselves from the law and blunders but also the revelations packed in conversations around identity, spirituality, and purpose.

With a
Lady H
May 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2020
There is such a delightfully whimsical quality to Zen Cho's writing. It's the perfect mixture of elegant, old-fashioned, and propulsive. It never fails to endear me to her narrative and her characters, which are delightful!

Guet Imm, Tet Sang, and Feng Chueng are the major characters this novella revolves around; Guet Imm is a nun, while Tet Sang and Feng Chueng are the leaders of a group of wandering bandits, whose members are fleshed out to varying degrees. Guet Imm's nunnery/order has been de
1.5 stars rounded up since I don't actually hate the book. But really, calling/branding this a wuxia is definitely bonkers. The author herself said in a recent interview at Coode Street Podcast that it is more like a fanfic of a long running wuxia series. So, it is more like slice-of-life story, which has never been my favorite.

Anyway, the story itself did not grab me. The MCs started out intriguing - who does not love a rag tag team - but the boring plot and uninspired banters just drown every
Jan 18, 2020 rated it liked it
I was sent this book as an advance copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own.

3.5 stars

This was one of my (if not the) most anticipated books coming out in the first half of this year so it's not the easiest thing for me to review.

I really liked it and I think it delivered on a lot of points it promised to deliver on, and points I personally love in stories like well-rounded, three-dimensional characters. I had previously only read a short story
Noura Khalid (theperksofbeingnoura)
Thank you to Publishing for the gifted review copy!

I've been told multiple times that Tor publish the best novellas and I was eyeing this one for quite some time. The story sounded really intriguing and honestly that cover is so beautiful! I guess you could say it's a cover read in some way. I didn't really have expectations but I thought the book would be different. I was hoping for more action scenes but the book was still pretty good! It was more about found family. There was a lot of
Jul 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
In a war-torn Asian country a nun of the titular order joins up with a group of bandits planning to sell stolen treasure. Guet Imm is a horrible cook, won't sleep with any of the bandits but soon endears herself to the whole group except for the leader's right hand Tet Sang. Guet Imm and Tet Sang end up bickering from one end of the country to the other, deftly demonstrating how much of a master of humorous writing this author is. The politics of the war and the secrets that the main characters ...more
Jan 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
A case of expectations =/= reality but in the best possible way, in my opinion.

I dived into this with the expectation that it would be a high-stakes, action-packed wuxia fantasy with a lot of martial art goodness, but instead I found a very thought-provoking novella that revolves around identity, spirituality, and the lengths taken in order to guarantee survival. I also thought that the queer-norm aspects of this novella (particularly the emphasis on trans-ness and gender fluidity) were a pleas
Mar 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Overall I didn't feel strongly about this, but I got emotional about the ending, so I think it's going to be a solid 3.5!

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water is a wuxia-inspired fantasy novella following a group of bandits and an ex-anchorite nun after an unexpected fight in a coffeehouse.

I want to start with the positives and say that Zen Cho knows how to write effective banter even when there's not much page-time to develop the characters, and really gets the serious-humorous balance
laurel [the suspected bibliophile]
Once upon a time, a bandit walks into a small coffeehouse, and walks out with a nun, an adventure, and more trouble than he ever bargained for.

"Huh?" said Tet Sang.
"Oh, I'm joining you all," said Guet Imm, wide-eyed. "Didn't I say already?"

This was short, sweet, and I kinda want a sequel?

I'll be honest, I was a little hesitant about this one because I had DNF'd Cho's first novel, Sorcerer to the Crown, which had been a highly anticipated read. But after some assurances from several trusted blog
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I'm a Malaysian fantasy writer based in the UK. I've written a novel called Sorcerer to the Crown about magic, intrigue and politics in Regency London; a sequel about cursed sisters, anticolonial witches, dapper dragon dandies and murderous fairies called The True Queen; and a short story collection called Spirits Abroad. Plus some other stuff! I've won a British Fantasy Award for Best Newcomer, t ...more

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“You cannot stay rich in times like these without eating sin.” 1 likes
“What’s wrong with your leg?” he said. But now he could see the state of her feet—blistered and rubbed raw from walking. She shifted away from Tet Sang, bending to pat her feet dry. A wince briefly displaced her frown. “You should call Ah Boon to look at that,” said Tet Sang, embarrassed. “He can give you medicine. He used to look after people’s cows.” 0 likes
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