Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao


OMG! Can I just say Wu Zetian is my all time favorite warrior hero. If you want a positive female character who laughs in the face of the patriarchy and societal constructs. You have found her!!

“Shame and humiliation are self-imposed emotions, and from here on out, I choose not to feel them.” This book was full of so many inspirational self reflections (quotes).

This incredible brave, kick ass human has had enough of the crap women have had to deal with and is not going to let them win.


All the strict thinkings and societal norms of a hundred years ago (?) China with a futuristic huge Robot Chrysalis’, it makes you not know exactly what year you are in, so it’s an alternate universe.

Side note: I want an alternate universe with a matriarchy just for fun.

I definitely think this book is for everyone. I was so giddy over the love triangle that just popped up. Not your average love triangle.

My mind is still blown by this book and by the Epilogue holy crap wtf! I’m not sure how long it will take me to process this beautiful book!  Oh goodness will there be more?!?!

I may have more succinct words later but I need this physical book in my library for sure!

Thank you penguin teen and net galley for the e-ARC for my honest and voluntary review.
Out Sept 21, 2021

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain.

When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​

To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way—and stop more girls from being sacrificed.


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