Iron Widow

Pages: 400
Imprint: Rock the Boat

Iron Widow

Instant New York Times No.1 Bestseller

Xiran Jay Zhao

Chinese history and mecha sci-fi combine in this dazzling YA retelling
9780861542116 (8 Sep 2022)
RRP £8.99
9780861542093 (7 Oct 2021)
RRP £14.99

The Book

Additional Information

Pages 400
Imprint Rock the Boat


About the Author

Xiran Jay Zhao (they/ them) is a first-generation immigrant to Canada from small-town China (which, for China, means a town of 4 million people). A recent graduate from Vancouver's Simon Fraser University, they wrote sci-fi and fantasy books while they probably should've been studying more biochemical pathways. You can find them on Twitter @XiranJayZhao for daily shitposts, Instagram as xiranjayzhao for cosplays and very extra outfits and YouTube as Xiran Jay Zhao for videos about Chinese history and culture. Iron Widow is their first novel.


‘A ferociously original fusion of Chinese history and mecha sci-fi, this is a fast-paced thrill-ride.'

- Guardian

‘Absolutely epic. This is the historical-inspired, futuristic sci-fi mash-up of my wildest dreams.'

- Chloe Gong, author of These Violent Delights

‘This wild anime-inspired reimagining of the biggest, baddest figures in Chinese history takes on the patriarchy and smashes it - with giant robots. Think The Handmaid's Tale meets Pacific Rim and buckle up.'

- Shelley Parker-Chan, author of She Who Became the Sun

‘Like its ferocious heroine, Iron Widow is brutal, bloodthirsty and full of rage. Zetian's fight to shatter patriarchal definitions of power makes for a truly thrilling read.' 

- Julie C. Dao, author of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

‘A primal scream of a book, Iron Widow delivers on all that fury and more, combining meticulous pacing and brilliant world building to make a truly epic read.'

- E.K. Johnston, author of Aetherbound

‘Zetian is the take-no-prisoners heroine you'll love to cheer on as she crushes everyone who tries to bring her down.'

- Rebecca Schaeffer, author of Not Even Bones

‘A bold and brash story that will grab you by the throat from page one. Zhao expertly weaves a story that polishes off classic sci-fi themes and re-imagines them in a lush futuristic world inspired by Ancient China. With an unapologetic heroine who pushes so far beyond the boundaries of expectations, the reader will go on a journey of twists and turns that will make them gasp with each page turn. Thrilling, heart-wrenching and epic!'

- Kat Cho, author of Vicious Spirits

‘In Iron Widow, Zhao crafts a thrilling, brutal tale with jaw-dropping action and a fierce and unyielding heroine. Zetian is unstoppable, and I dare you not to cheer her on.'

- Elizabeth Lim, author of Spin the Dawn

Iron Widow is a gut punch from the very first pages. The action is riveting. The story relentless. The heroine ruthless and unapologetic. Zetian is here to set the world on fire, and her pursuit of vengeance is thrilling and empowering to behold. Sit back and enjoy the show - and stay the hell out of her way.'

- Nicki Pau Preto, author of the Crown of Feathers trilogy

‘A searing, cinematic, gut-punch of a tale, Iron Widow is both wickedly fun and brutally incisive when it comes to the Chinese history and culture it draws inspiration from. There's no resisting Wu Zetian; once she sinks her claws in you, you'll be racing alongside her to a shocking, subversive end.'

- Joan He, NYT bestselling author of The Ones We're Meant to Find

‘Zhao has gifted us with this addictive, thrilling chaos, led by one uber-talented female assassin. Interwoven with a rich tapestry of East Asian mythology, this is a unique and piercingly powerful book, which any sci-fi fan will lap up.'  

- Sue Cheung, author of Chinglish

‘A rip-roaring, blade-sharp rampage through a vivid, terrifying world. Never have I cheered on a murderer so hard.'

- Kat Dunn, author of Dangerous Remedy

‘Absolutely phenomenal! Wu Zetian is the badass heroine I've been waiting for, taking on aliens and the patriarchy like a total boss. Like a kick-ass feminist Ready Player One — I adored Iron Widow.'

- Kat Ellis, author of Harrow Lake

Iron Widow is an exceptional book. This is an interrogative, imaginative and endlessly interesting retelling that combines a personal story of revenge with an epic sci-fi world... This is a firecracker of a book.'

- A Short Book Lover

‘The characters in this novel are truly spectacular.'

- Voice magazine

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