Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Emperor's Riddle” as Want to Read:
The Emperor's Riddle
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Emperor's Riddle

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  280 ratings  ·  61 reviews
Mia Chen is on what her mother calls a Grand Adventure. She’s not sure what to make of this family trip to China, and didn’t want to leave her friends for the summer, but she’s excited about the prospect of exploring with her Aunt Lin, the only adult who truly understands her.

Then Aunt Lin disappears, right after her old nemesis, a man named Ying, comes to visit. Mia knows
Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published May 2nd 2017 by Aladdin
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Emperor's Riddle, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Emperor's Riddle

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  280 ratings  ·  61 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Emperor's Riddle
«Mia felt very small and very young. But that […] was how history was supposed to make you feel. Small and young and part of something much bigger than yourself.»

Review in English | Reseña en español (abajo)
Fills into the Reading Women Challenge (5) A children’s book

Do you want an entertaining, fast-paced story involving a mysterious history-archaeological adventure set in China? This is the book for you! The Emperor's Riddle is a light and funny middle-grade novel that I bet it kicks you ou
Ms. Yingling
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Mia Chen isn't too excited about spending a month of her summer vacation in her mother's hometown in China, especially since it means that her family (including brother Jake and Aunt Lin) have to stay in the family apartment with her uncle. Mia's a little spacey sometimes, but when Aunt Lin is gone one morning, she is sure that something bad has happened. Her aunt's friend, Ying, had visited the night before, and Mia has a bad feeling about him. This
Laura (bbliophile)
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a lot of fun, just not as epic and fantastical as I was expecting. Adored the brother-sister relationship though!
Abby Johnson
Mia is not thrilled to be spending a month of her summer vacation in China visiting her mother's hometown, far away from her best friends and everything she likes to do. When Ying, a childhood friend of her Aunt Lin's, shows up and they start to talk about the treasure hunting they used to do when they were young, Mia is intrigued. And when her aunt suddenly leaves, saying she's going to spend some time with friends, Mia is suspicious. Her aunt has told her about the legend of Emperor Zhu Yunwen ...more
Aug 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017-books
Rating: 3.5

“The Emperor’s Riddle” is an adventure tale of eleven year old Mia, as she tries to solve a series of riddles in Fuzhou, China, to seek an old Emperor’s treasure and help her search for her missing Aunt.

Personally, what I loved most was the way Zhang takes the reader on a tour of Fuzhou while the characters try to solve the riddles to the Emperor’s treasure. As I have never been to any of the places mentioned in the book, it was fascinating to get knowledge and visualize the historic
This was a quick but super fun read. I love books with riddles and puzzles. The quest to solve the emperor's riddle takes you on a mini tour of Fuzhou and delves into a bit of early Ming Dynasty history. It left me yearning to visit China when I was done. Full review to come on my blog. :) ...more
Suzanne Maley
Jun 15, 2017 rated it liked it
I'd give this 3 1/2 stars. The ending was very exciting. Mia's character seemed to change towards the end and made her stronger. The end also leaves the door open for more books about Mia and Aunt Lin. ...more
Hoover Public Library Kids and Teens
China's past is important to Mia's present as she follows an ex emperor's clues across China to find a treasure . . . and her missing aunt. ...more
Apr 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A few days after Mia appears, her Aunt Lin disappears. They are on a search for a missing treasure that was one of their ancestors friends. Mia and her brother Jake find clues to where aunt lin may have disappeared, but they don't know for sure. MUST READ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1 ...more
Nov 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: ycld-od, 2020
Super cute adventure story about a girl and her brother who visit China for the summer and get caught up in the search for an emperor’s treasure. sweet and fun with some tender sibling/family moments
Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.
Been feeling super meh lately, thus I'm immensely proud to say that this is the first book I started and finished in 2018 !

Becky B
Mia isn't super excited about going to China with her mom, aunt, and brother. They'll be visiting the home where Aunt Lin and Mom grew up and where their uncle who is more like a stranger now lives. Mia would much rather spend summer break with her friends back in Tennessee. But when Aunt Lin suddenly disappears and everyone else brushes it off as just Aunt Lin being Aunt Lin, Mia knows something is up. The last thing Aunt Lin was looking at was a treasure map hidden behind an old family paintin ...more
Dorine White
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Mia, her mom, brother Jake and her Aunt Lin have gone to China to visit their relatives. At first, Mia is not excited and upset to be away from her friends, but then she gets involved in a mystery. Her Aunt Lin tells her about a hidden treasure from 600 years ago and the map that leads to its hiding place. One night, Aunt Lin goes missing, and Mia thinks that Ying, an old friend of her aunt's is to blame. No one else believes her.

Mia decides that if she solves the riddles that lead to the hidden
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Zhang, Kat The Emperor’s Riddle, 235 pages. Aladdin (Simon), 2017. $ 17. Mature Content: G; Language: G; Violence: PG (scary).

At first Mia is not excited about going to visit her uncle in China for a month of summer vacation, even if her brother, mother, and favorite aunt are coming along. But returning to her home reminds Aunt Lin of a mystery from her own childhood that she never solved. When Aunt Lin disappears in the middle of the night, Mia knows it has to do with the angry man from Lin’s p
Sep 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mia is not thrilled about going on a family trip to China with her mother, older brother Jake, and Aunt Lin. She would rather stay home and hang out with her friends. Once they get to the apartment that her mother and aunt grew up in, things don't seem so bad. She's been going to Chinese school, so she can speak to people and read street signs. Plus she loves hanging out with her aunt, who promises they will have all kinds of fun adventures. But when her aunt disappears suddenly, Mia doesn't bel ...more
Apr 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
as a fellow chinese american, i had such high hopes for this book. representation of young chinese american teens is so rare and i was really looking forward to a protagonist i could love and a book i could read on repeat.

i was wrong.

the protagonist, mia, is incredibly bratty and shows little maturity. even if she's only twelve, her character itself is so unlikeable. i found the beginning quite interesting and i was prepared for the story to just get better and better.

little did i know that what
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Zhang has a beautiful way of writing for the juvenile audience. This book will introduce readers to Chinese history and culture while incorporating elements of a thrilling treasure hunt. I wish that the author had included more descriptions of the Chinese monuments and historical places, as it was something I had to look up. I'm not sure that every child who reads this book will do the same to gain further understanding of what the places look like and why they are important.

Overall, the clues a
Katie Lawrence
The descriptions of China alone made this book amazing. So atmospheric and engaging! This moved quickly and had some great action scenes. I loved all the cultural details and how important history & place were to the mystery. The characters are not developed overly well, but are relatable nonetheless. I almost wished there'd been slightly more of Mia's relationship with her mother as well as her aunt. I thought there were some interesting details in the brief snippets you see that could have bee ...more
May 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
As a kid, I loved adventure stories with a puzzle and/or riddles. The Emperor's Riddle has all that and a big mystery, lots of family dynamics, a creepy bad guy and a gorgeous location.It's a fun adventure which kids will love and totally absorb.

Mia is inquisitive, slightly shy and very resourceful. She's also an Asian-American visiting relatives in China. The book touches on the unique position of being bi-cultural and assimilation which is so rare in Middle Grade books. There are some great de
As an adventure/mystery, I thought this worked well. I liked the mystery of the Emperor's riddles and long-lost treasure. I also enjoyed the characters for the most part. However, I didn't understand some of Mia's behaviors - I wished her thoughts and feelings about interacting with other people had been explained a little more clearly. Overall, this is an action-packed read focusing on a history and place that kids around here might not know much about.

Thanks to the publisher for a digital adva
May 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was absolutely perfect. I loved how Kat Zhang gave us a sense of the world and the characters from the very first page, the very first sentence even. I loved the historical riddles that needed to be understood, the mystery that needed to be solved and the bonding that happened between brother and sister. This book was a super quick read for me but it was absolutely wonderful and I think that it is an awesome middle grade book!
Roxanne Hsu Feldman
I really appreciate Kat Zhang's obvious understanding of contemporary China and what every day family life is like in a small city in southern China. There is no nostalgia or exoticism -- just a fun mystery with a riddle and a less known legend of a hidden treasure by a Ming Dynasty emperor. I would have welcomed a more savorable prose style or characters that I care more about but that is just to satisfy my own taste. I will definitely share this with my mystery loving students. ...more
I found this to be quite a satisfying read. The writing is seamless, the story is fun/intriguing and fast paced. I love how the riddles take you to historically iconic places in China's history as well.
Mia's relationship with her family members is complex but also heartwarming. I will follow her for another adventure if that ever happens.

PS: I won this ARC in a twitter giveaway hosted by the author.
Apr 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids-homeschool
This was a solid story I read to my second grader. I liked reading about Mia's trip to her family's homeland in China, figuring out an evolving relationship with her teen brother and getting to know a distant uncle. I didn't like Mia's poor decisions, going off on a grand treasure hunt without telling her mom or uncle. My son liked the riddles and the intense confrontation at the end of the story. ...more
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A Satisfying Adventure

The relationships of this story were both familiar and complex. This is from the point of view of a twelve year old girl on a family vacation, with some family she wants to spend time with, and some she doesn’t. She can’t always think of the right words to convey her feelings, and she has a strong, independant spirit for adventure that leads her to discover new places and find new ways to interact with her family. A great read!
Rebecca Reid
Nov 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Super fun kid-centered mystery relating to a Medieval Chinese emperor. My 8yo and I loved the fact that it was in a different country (China) and so we learned some things about a different place and culture as well as enjoying the building mystery. It was not a mystery that kids could really solve along with the main characters but it was very satisfying in the end. My daughter wishes there was a sequel with the same kids in China!
Liss Carmody
Oct 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Another of Nell's Torchlight literature selections. I liked it. It's the story of a Chinese-American girl's holiday in China: mostly a mystery and puzzle-solving adventure, but it weaves in a bit of modern Chinese history and some themes about family and trust and how relationships evolve over time that makes it a little more robust than many mysteries in this age range. ...more
May 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book was bland, to say the least. I liked the riddle solving but the plot was quite boring. The writing was fine. But the main character, Mia, was the worst. She annoyed me to no end. I just wanted to get over with this book, I might be in a reading slump.
Bonnie Grover
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, student
The Emperor's Riddle is a great story. It's full of mystery, a little sibling rivalry and a little history. I loved the poetry of the riddles and the map.
Thank you Kat Zhang for giving me the opportunity to read this book. I cannot wait to share it with my students.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Turtle of Oman
  • Knight's Castle (Tales of Magic, #2)
  • Odd and the Frost Giants
  • Red, White, and Whole
  • Hachiko Waits
  • Fortunately, the Milk
  • Crenshaw
  • The Seven Tales of Trinket
  • Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
  • Children of the Land
  • Bayou Magic
  • Alone
  • Igraine the Brave
  • The Thirteen Treasures
  • Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer (Unusual Chickens #1)
  • Charlie & Frog (A Castle-on-the-Hudson Mystery)
  • Castle Diary: The Journal of Tobias Burgess
  • The House That Lou Built
See similar books…
See top shelves…
*Please do not message me through Goodreads! Instead, email me at katzhang3 AT gmail DOT com. I don't get on Goodreads often to check messages! Thank you :) *

Kat Zhang spent most of her childhood tramping through a world weaved from her favorite stories and games. When she and her best friend weren't riding magic horses or talking to trees, they were writing adaptations of plays for their stuffed

News & Interviews

If you've got an overflowing Want to Read shelf of books that you keep meaning to get to (one day!), you're in good company. Our company, that...
115 likes · 40 comments