I bought this book 🙂
The Moon in the Palace by Weina Dai Randel
Genre: Chinese History, Historical, Fiction, Romance, Adult
Blurb from Goodreads:
A concubine at the palace learns quickly that there are many ways to capture the Emperor’s attention. Many paint their faces white and style their hair attractively, hoping to lure in the One Above All with their beauty. Some present him with fantastic gifts, such as jade pendants and scrolls of calligraphy, while others rely on their knowledge of seduction to draw his interest. But young Mei knows nothing of these womanly arts, yet she will give the Emperor a gift he can never forget.
Mei’s intelligence and curiosity, the same traits that make her an outcast among the other concubines, impress the Emperor. But just as she is in a position to seduce the most powerful man in China, divided loyalties split the palace in two, culminating in a perilous battle that Mei can only hope to survive.
The first volume of the Empress of Bright Moon duology paints a vibrant portrait of ancient China—where love, ambition, and loyalty can spell life or death—and the woman who came to rule it all.
Hi all, today I’m bringing you this lovely gem! First, I would just like to say that the blurb does not do this novel justice. It describes the plot, but it doesn’t convey the tone very well. The story is a thousand times better than the blurb, which is a good thing! However, I find that the cover makes up for it. I saw the cover on book twitter, and decided that I had to read it.After about a two month spell of not being interested in any books, I finally found one that could hold my interest! I’m a huge history buff, and I pretty much have been consuming historical shows since the new year. So a good story set in ancient times? Sign me up! Let’s get into it then, shall we?
This book is based off of Empress Wu; the only female regent of China. From riches to rags, from childhood to womanhood, from naive to cutthroat, we follow Mei through the early years of her life. What I like most about our protagonist is that she seems so human; she’s intelligent, pretty, but humble. She has many struggles, but still manages to succeed. She fights for the Emperor’s attention, and seeks power not for just herself, but to be reunited with her mother– to provide for her mother. I think that Mei is very admirable.
The romance in this novel is very lowkey; she finds solace with the kind Pheasant, but she can’t let herself be with him. She keeps having to remind herself of her ambitions and goals. Which I think anyone with big dreams can relate too. I quite enjoyed the internal conflict; you can’t have both love and power. It was an intriguing concept to explore.
More than the romance, I actually enjoyed reading about the girls around Mei and how she interacted with them. They were all competing for the same thing; the attention of the Emperor, but so few actually made it to his bedchamber.You either had to very clever (like Mei), or very sly like Jewel. The power struggle between the women was probably the best part of the entire novel.
As far as the writing went, I thought it was very easy to read, and it had a nice flow. I don’t have complaints in this department, I feel like the author did a great job! For example, I feel like she did well describing feelings:
“A thought sprouted in my mind like a malicious weed. Unuttered, tenacious, and shapeless, it rooted in my head and grew bitter fruits of destruction.” – pg 308
Oh, and there was quite a bit of blood and gore! The author didn’t hold back, which is even better because I find it adds a little more authenticity. Honestly, I prefer reading gore more than watching it. So this may or may not be a deal breaker for you. In conclusion, I can tell you that this book and the author have inspired me to read more about historical China!
Let know, have you read The Moon in the Palace before? Did you like it? Also, if you know of any other really good historical books, drop me a comment! Thanks for reading!
Overall rating: 5 hearts out of 5 hearts
Cover: 5 hearts
Plot: 5 hearts
Characters: 5 hearts
Pacing: 5 hearts