“A must for historical fiction fans, especially those fascinated by China’s glorious past.”

—Catherine Coyne, Library Journal, STARRED review

An impressive tale of lethal court intrigue… It is a story of one woman’s rise to power, but also of the relationships between the women of the palace. Readers will be transported by the colorful, fairy-tale-like story.” (Read more here.)

Kathe Robin, RT Book Reviews, Top Pick, 4-1/2 stars

The Moon in the Palace depicts Empress Wu’s sharp, persistent spirit but does not neglect to make her believably naive and vulnerable, an untried girl among ruthless women. The intrigue and machinations of the imperial court come to life under her hand, a vast and dangerous engine with each piece moving for its own reasons.” (Read more here.)

Jaclyn Fulwood, Shelf Awareness, STARRED Review

“A very successful and transporting novel that beautifully captures the sounds, smells and social mores of 7th-century China.” (Read more here.)

— Kate Braithwaite, Historical Novels Review, Editor’s Choice

“Lyrical and intriguing.” (Read more here.)

Bobbi Dumas, Kirkus Reviews

“Mei gives life to this richly detailed novel. She is adventuresome, intelligent,hardworking and a risktaker.” (Read more here.)

Anne Morris, The Dallas Morning News 

“Full of politics and intrigue, this is a fascinating must-read for fans of historical fiction and romance.” (Read more here.)”

–Jennifer Rothschild, Arlington Public Library, Arlington VA, School Library Journal

“Randel succeeds in showing court politics exclusively through female eyes, and how every decision and subsequent action, success, and failure are skillfully plotted like a chess match by the palace women… Magical.” (Read more here.)

— Deborah Cannon, Washington Independent Review of Books

“Randel brilliantly evokes Mei’s many struggles in THE MOON IN THE PALACE…” (Read more here.)

– Carly Silver, BookReporter

“Exotic, dangerous, brilliantly coloured and romantic, it’s an astonishingly assured debut and a fascinatin story.”

Kate Forsyth, author of Bitter Greens and The Wild Girl

“Richly described, Randel’s intense research shows on every page, from the elaborate lush clothing to the food meted out based on position of favor within the court. Every character has her own motivation, be it to become the “Most Favored,” sneak a stolen kiss in a quiet garden, or support a preferred heir to the Emperor’s throne.”


“The premise might be familiar from similar blockbusters such as Memoirs of a Geisha, but Randel knows how to exploit it for narrative tension… the novel explores intriguing feminist terrain.” (Read more here)

– James Kidd, South China Morning Post



“A full immersion, compulsively readable tale that rivals both Anchee Min’s Empress Orchid (2004), about the Dowager Empress Cixi, and the multilayered biographical novel Empress (2006), by Sa Shan, which also features Empress Wu.”

— Jen Baker, Booklist, STARRED Review Booklist_StarReview_badge

“A must-read for fans of historical fiction set in ancient China, this novel offers a compelling look at a woman’s unprecedented rise to power and a fresh take on the often vilified Empress Wu.” (Read more here.)

—­Catherine Coyne, Library Journal, STARRED Review

“…a rich conclusion…” (Read more here.)

Publishers Weekly

“Truly a fascinating read!” (Read more here.)

— Kathe Robin, RT Book Reviews, 4 stars

“A fascinating vision of ancient China concludes far too soon in this suspenseful, romantic finale... The Empress of Bright Moon provides gratifying closure to readers who fell in love with Mei’s tenacious spirit the first time around.” (Read more here.)

— Jaclyn Fulwood, Shelf Awareness

“Along with its predecessor, THE EMPRESS OF BRIGHT MOON is one of the most beautifully written, impeccably researched and well-constructed historical fiction novels released this year.” (Read more here.)

— Carly Silver, BookReporter

“As in her first novel, Randel is tremendously successfully at portraying the world of 7th-century China while developing a forward-moving and engrossing drama.” (Read more here.)

— Kate Braithwaite, Historical Novels Review, Editor’s Choice

“Well researched and smoothly crafted, and with a sincere and winning style, it seamlessly transports the reader into the 7th-century Tang Dynasty to experience, firsthand, a woman’s grueling and sometimes humiliating path to power.” (Read more here.)

— Daborah Cannon, Washington Independent Review of Books

Praise for The Moon in the Palace:

“I absolutely loved Weina Dai Randel’s The Moon in the Palace, which is a truly immersive experience and a rare and beautiful treasure. All I want now is to read the next novel! “

Elizabeth Chadwick — New York Times bestselling author of The Summer Queen, The Winter Crown, and The Autumn Throne

“Exotic, dangerous, brilliantly coloured and romantic, it’s an astonishingly assured debut and a fascinating story.”

Kate Forsyth, international best-selling author of Bitter Greens and The Wild Girl

“An astonishing debut! Weina Dai Randel spins a silken web of lethal intrigue, transporting us into the fascinating, seductive world of ancient China, where one rebellious, astute girl embarks on a dangerous quest for power.”

C.W. Gortner— bestselling author of The Queen’s Vow

“With fresh, lyrical prose and a true storyteller’s flair, in her novel The Moon in the Palace, Weina D. Randel brings 7th century China to vibrant life. A shining jewel of a novel.”

Christy English — Author of The Queen’s Pawn and To Be Queen: A Novel Of The Early Life Of Eleanor Of Aquitane

The Moon in the Palace is a colorful and vibrant journey into the grandeur of the Tang Dynasty… I couldn’t stop reading this exciting debut novel.”

Jeannie Lin USA Today bestselling author of The Lotus Palace and The Jade Temptress

“With elegant modern prose and vivid details, Randel’s gorgeous debut novel seductively pulls back the curtain to reveal the heartbreaking world of harem politics in Tang Dynasty China. This is a page turner that will transport you in time and place. Bravo!”

Stephanie Dray  — New York Times Bestselling Author of America’s First Daughter and LILY OF THE NILE

“Mei is a triumph of intelligence and passion, cunning and courage. Randel has provided a strong cast of supporting characters, successfully resisting stereotypes of eunuchs and concubines… I can’t wait for the next book and more of Randel’s gifted storytelling.”

Janie Chang — Author of Three Souls and Spring Dragon Road

“Randel writes with a fresh, poetic style, bringing to life a time remote from our own, yet filled with the same intrigues, power struggles, — and love affair. This is history but also a stay-up-all-night read.”

Mingmei Yip Author of The Nine Fold Heaven and Song of the Silk Road