TOUR SCHEDULE: Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

Genre: young adult, fantasy, historical fiction

Diversity tags: author of color (chinese american); poc representation (chinese-inspired world); lgbtq+ representation (bisexual; polyamory)

Publication date: 21 September

Publisher: Penguin Teen

Cover: Ashley Mackenzie (artist)

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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.

Content/Trigger Warnings

  • Violence and abuse, footbinding, suicide ideation, discussion and references to sexual assault (though no on-page depictions), alcohol addiction, and torture.

About the Author

Xiran Jay Zhao is a first-gen immigrant from small-town China who was raised by the Internet​. A recent graduate of Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University, they wrote science fiction and fantasy while they probably should have been studying more about biochemical pathways. You can find them on Twitter for memes, Instagram for cosplays and fancy outfits, and YouTube for long videos about Chinese history and culture. Iron Widow is their first novel.

Tour Schedule

August 23
A Cup of Cyanide
Lyrical Reads
Solace in Reading

August 24
B for Bookslut
It’s Just A Coffee Addicted Bibliophile
Kirsty’s Book Reviews

August 25
Books and Bookish
The Keysmash Blog

August 26
Binded By Letters
Kymiee tries to read
The Paper Reels

August 27
China Sorrows
Myths n’ Mis-adventures

Published by Shealea

Shealea likes sunflowers, research, and diverse books. In 2020, she graduated from the University of the Philippines Diliman with a bachelor's degree in Communication Research.

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