Guest Review: The Moon In The Palace by Weina Dai Randel

I want to thank Allison from The Book Wheel for allowing Read Diverse Books to participate in #30Authors. Also, a big thanks to Adria, who kindly donated her time to write this review.


#30Authors is an event started by The Book Wheel that connects readers, bloggers, and authors. In it, 30 authors review their favorite recent reads on 30 blogs in 30 days. It takes place annually during the month of September and has been met with incredible support from and success in the literary community. It has also been turned into an anthology, which is currently available on Amazon and all author proceeds go to charity. Previous #30Authors contributors include Celeste Ng, Cynthia Bond, Brian Panowich, and M.O. Walsh. To see this year’s full line-up, visit or follow along on Twitter @30Authors.

Guest Review by Adria J. Cimino


The Moon in the Palace by Weina Dai RandelThe moment I started reading The Moon in the Palace by Weina Dai Randel, I knew I was in for a treat. I’ve always loved stories set in the lush gardens of ancient China’s emperors… but this time the power struggle isn’t the usual scenario of concubines fighting for a superior position in the court. In The Moon in the Palace, we learn the story of Mei, a courageous young concubine whose fight to provide for her widowed mother leads her to the most powerful role in the land.

This work of historical fiction is based on the life of Empress Wu, one of China’s most fascinating rulers. It’s obvious that the book was extremely well-researched. I learned many interesting details about the way of life at the time, both within the palace and beyond, as well as about what motivated the concubines and the cast of characters within the palace walls.

And speaking of characters, they were so multi-dimensional that they kept my interest from start to finish. For instance, one character seemed evil, yet little by little, and certainly by the time of the character’s downfall, I felt sorry for her. The author did such an excellent job of showing the reasons for her characters’ behavior. One of my favorite aspects of this book was the character development. I immediately loved the character of Mei and admired her strength through the many difficult and devastating events in her young life.

And as with any great book, I loved it for the emotion. This wasn’t a book about cold rulers methodically going about their lives. Each character is seen at his or her strongest moments and at the weakest. And these moments are accompanied by such truth and feeling that the reader can’t help but cry or get angry right by the side of these characters.

I also enjoyed the details of the setting, how the concubines dressed, what they ate when they were in favor with the emperor or not—and that’s just to name a few. In this book, the reader is truly immersed in this time period, in this world.

Although the book is based on history, it’s perfectly crafted fiction with just the right pacing and plenty of intrigue. I also read the second book in the series, The Empress of Bright Moon, and highly recommend it as well!



Purchase on Amazon 

 Add on Goodreads:

The Moon in the Palace (Empress of Bright Moon #1)

Weina Dai Randel:

Author website | Twitter | Facebook


Adria J. Cimino is the author of Amazon Best-Selling novel Paris, Rue des Martyrs and Close to Destiny, as well as The Creepshow and A Perfumer’s Secret. She also co-founded boutique publishing house Velvet Morning Press and Women’s Fiction ebook deals newsletter BookStar. Prior to jumping into the publishing world full time, she spent more than a decade as a journalist at news organizations including The AP and Bloomberg News. She lives in Paris with her husband, Didier, and daughter, Phèdre. When she isn’t writing, you can find Adria at her neighborhood café watching the world go by.

Author website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon

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32 thoughts on “Guest Review: The Moon In The Palace by Weina Dai Randel

  1. This isn’t a book that was on my radar until Adria reviewed it and I’m so glad that she did! I love how she described it as showing both strengths and weaknesses, which isn’t always the case with historical fiction. Thank you so much for joining in #30Authors and for hosting Adria this year!

  2. I’ve seen this cover around, but never explored what it was actually about. I adore historical fiction, especially ones set outside of the U.S. I find Chinese culture absolutely fascinating. I especially like HFs that are well researched and historically accurate. Adding it to my TBR. Great guest review 😊

  3. This is such a great project! I didn’t know about this book and am usually unenthusiastic about historical fiction cause you know, many writers pretend we didn’t exist then and have had bad experience with rampant sexism and such. But yass diverse historical fiction✊ I could do that! Will definitely put this one on my tbr! Also I think I have a review book waiting that is partly historical fiction. Yay🙌

  4. This definitely sounds like a book I would enjoy. I also like a bunch of Adria’s novels too. Great recommendation, it sounds like an intriguing read, both for the setting and the good character development, as described by Adria. I will add it on my to-read list

    1. I didn’t know about Adria or Weina Dai Randel. Joining this project was a great idea for me because I discovered two great new authors.
      I also want to read this dualogy. Historical fiction based on the life on an Empress? Sounds fantastic!

  5. I read this book and it’s follow up as well. Really loved the follow up 🙂 Some Asian authors I loved and that might be more up your valley are Three Souls by Janie Chang, The ghost bride by Yangsze Choo and Diamond Head by Cecily Wong. I did read Amy Tan but felt she negatively stereotyped China and Chinese men. (Yes I read Joy Luck Club, The hundred secret senses, and the kitchen god’s wife. And I did review all of them on my blog. Am thinking of making a list of multicultural literature I reviewed…)

    1. Hmm, what do you mean “more up my alley”? I haven’t read this book, so I don’t know if there are problematic aspects to this duology. But the review makes it sounds pretty great.
      You’re so well-read, Svetlana. Thank you for the recommendations. I will add them to my “book” of novels to be read.

      1. You mentioned on your blog few times that you are into science fiction and fantasy:) I figured you might enjoy the ones I mentioned because, well, Chinese versions of after-life 🙂 thanks for the compliments 🙂 not to mention the cover for the ghost bride is simply amazing, and it has a fascinating premise: a young girl in Singapore is promised as a bride to a dead man.

  6. This sounds like something I would absolutely love! Definitely adding it to the TBR! This is a period that I find beautiful in art and stuff, but I know so little about it, that I love to read more about it! I also love love love the addition of a goodreads widget to add it to your lists – so useful!

    1. We’re on the same boat, Ceillie! haha I think I have read 1 historical fiction novel set in China before and that’s it. But of course I’m always open to more. I have so many different kinds of stories and worlds to explore. I don’t like the idea of getting older, but thankfully that just means I will be more well-read.

  7. I really appreciate it when an author can pull me through frustration and anger to sympathy and understanding with challenging characters. That alone recommends this book to me for sure!

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