Even when we can’t quite understand it, we know there’s a deep and special bond shared by family. In The Emperor’s Riddle, readers learn firsthand just how strong that bond can be—even with half a millennium of time, half a world of distance and half a life of wisdom separating family members.
When nearly-12-year-old Mia is dragged away from her American friends for an awkward family trip back to Fuzhou, China, the only thing that keeps her excited about her lost month of summer is hanging out with her Aunt Lin. For years, Aunt Lin has been telling Mia about their ancestors’ ties to a young emperor who ruled China more than 600 years ago and had hidden a massive treasure that no one has ever found. But now that Aunt Lin has discovered an incomplete map and a handful of riddles, she and Mia can finally solve it—together.
But when Aunt Lin suddenly goes missing, Mia must solve the emperor’s riddles and finish the map alone, no matter the cost. It’s the only thing that gives her a chance of saving her Aunt Lin.
Author Kat Zhang flexed her adept young adult literature muscles with her phenomenal The Hybrid Chronicles trilogy. Her first foray into the middle grade arena perfectly embodies that challenging period of childhood when we’re all first learning to trust ourselves—no matter our insecurities—while convincing our families to do the same.
Justin Barisich is a freelancer, satirist, poet and performer living in Atlanta. More of his writing can be found at littlewritingman.com.