Hajimari no Kaze ha Kurenaku (Saiunkoku Monogatari vol. 1)
The Wind of the Beginning is Scarlet (Tale of the Country of Many-Colored Clouds, vol. 1)
Author: 雪乃 紗衣 / YUKINO Sai
Reading level: Middle school; furigana included on more difficult words; a bit of specialized vocabulary including government and court terms, but this is not written for a particularly educated audience.
My rating: 3/5
Saiunkoku Monogatari has been adapted into a manga series and an anime series. It's a fantasy series set in an imaginary version of ancient China. Shuurei comes from a noble family that has fallen into poverty, in part because of her father taking a library job with a low salary. Shuurei agrees to take a position as the young emperor's consort to teach him to be a better ruler, and becomes involved with intrigue around the imperial palace.
It's an entertaining novel, but I found the writing kind of weak. (The characters are always knitting their eyebrows!) The author sometimes resorts to cheap tricks to build suspense. But the characters are interesting and likeable, and I found myself wanting to know what was going to happen next.