Strike The Zither ARC Review! // Is This Joan He’s Best Book Yet???

After reading some mediocre fantasy by white authors last month, I was more than ready to jump into a story told by a POC. And I really enjoyed it! Also, I buddy-read this with the amazing Rachel!!

An illustration of a Chinese girl sitting before flames at a table playing the zither.

📖 Retelling of classic Chinese tale

♟️Political Intrigue


A huge thank you to the publisher for an arc in exchange for an honest review!

TL;DR: A girl who is the strategist for a warlordess who is trying to take back her throne ends up embroiled in plots and conflicts that will have far-reaching consequences. Age Rating: 13 and up.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Strike the Zither is inspired by the Chinese tale of The Three Kingdoms, something that I have admittedly had no prior experience with. And believe me when I say that it is a twisty tale!

We follow Zephyr, the strategist of Ren, a warlordess trying to take the throne back from the empire. Zephyr is forced to employ her most complex strategies yet to infiltrate the enemy camp, as she uncovers secrets that might have been better left hidden.

brandon Sanderson might have his sanderslides, but joan he definitely has her mid-book hurls(?).

Strike the Zither has some excellent twists. Joan He always has an incredible one at the 50% mark, and then an ending that reminds you that you always need to expect more. This is definitely a heavily political book, with a lot of warring factions and regions and scheming. However, there was definitely more action than I ever would have expected, and it all worked for me!

I wish I had gotten to see just a little bit more of Zephyr’s scheming. When she came through, she came through. Her brain is very cunning whereas my own schemes are more about how to procure the last cookie in the jar. Anyways, this is actually a very easy-to-read book that has a rich world but never feels like it’s dumping information on you. If you want to try a fantasy that has some excellent political intrigue, I would definitely recommend picking this up!

Finally, I really didn’t love the romance. It was lacking in the chemistry department for sure. However, some of the other relationships were great! Every character is fun and brings something new to the table.

So that’s it! I know that this is a short review but I really didn’t have a ton to say about this one? It was pretty good and I’d definitely recommend trying it out if this interests you! This came out on October 25th so be sure to order a copy, add it to Goodreads and add it to Storygraph! Tell me: what’s one of your favorite books with good political tension? Also check out my reviews for Joan He’s other novels Descendant of the Crane and The Ones We’re Meant To Find!

Buying books through my affiliate link with gives me a small commission. I’d be eternally thankful if you buy from it!

If You Enjoy YA Fantasy Books With Some Political Tension Then Check Out These Reviews Too!

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10 thoughts on “Strike The Zither ARC Review! // Is This Joan He’s Best Book Yet???

  1. Great review! I do enjoy He’s writing and her world-building is always so exquisite. This sounds really good and I do appreciate good twisty turns that keep me eagerly reading on and it seems like this does that successfully! I’m not liking the sound of this romance though but it doesn’t sound like it takes up that much room in the story? At least, I’m hoping not. 😃

    Liked by 1 person

  2. GOSH, KAYA. I LOVE THIS. SO MUCH. also give me all the heavily political books I NEED MORE OK?? because politics is always fun ESPECIALLY WHEN FANTASY AND SWORDS ARE COMBINED. plus cunning protagonists?? THE WORLD DESPERATELY NEEDS MORE OF THEM. i must read this THANK YOU FOR ALL THE CONVINCING.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I still haven’t decided if I want to read this book. I haven’t enjoyed one of her books yet so I am worried it will be the same, ha.

    Liked by 1 person

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