Iron Widow book review


Tristyn Scott, Editor

Hey readers! I’m Tristyn Scott, and I will be writing book reviews for the DC Roar. This week’s book is Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao.

Iron Widow cover art by freelance artist Ashley Mackenzie. The feature image (seen above) is the full cover art.

Iron Widow is a science fiction retelling of China’s only female emperor, Wu Zetian, and her rise to power. The novel takes place in Huaxia, a futuristic version of medieval China. The novel begins with Zetian enrolling herself to be a concubine pilot for the general who murdered her sister. Zetian succeeds in killing the man, and is pronounced the Iron Widow. Now she must juggle destroying Huaxia’s sexist government and not getting herself killed by her new co-pilot, Li Shimin, the Iron Demon.

My Opinion:

Iron Widow fueled the murderous 1950s housewife in me. Wu Zetian takes nothing from no one and is a queen. She lets nothing stop her from exposing the corruption and sexism in Huaxia’s government/military. All the characters were so well rounded, they felt like real people. I loved this book so, so much that it is hard to put into words. I barely put the book down and finished it within a week. Definitely one of my favorite books I’ve read.

Portrait of Wu Zetian by LaoMiao, found on Xiran Jay Zhao’s website.

The Genres Iron Widow is in are as follows:

Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance, LGBTQ+, Dystopian

The Final Rating:

I’ve come up with my own system for rating books, and the categories are: romance/relationships, plot, characters, enjoyment/engagement, and cover art (let’s be honest, if we weren’t supposed to judge a book by it’s cover, they wouldn’t look that cool). Here is how Iron Widow scored.



  • 4/5 in romance/relationships
  • 5/5 in plot
  • 5/5 in characters
  • 5/5 in enjoyment/engagement
  • 5/5 in cover art

Overall, Iron Widow scored a 4.8/5!

Iron Widow has a sequel named Heavenly Tyrant, which is expected to be released on August 29, 2023. Look out for that review September 2023!

Thank you, and I’ll see you next week!