Title: Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean
Publication: November 6th 2018 by HMH Books for Young Readers
In a palace of illusions, nothing is what it seems.
Each generation, a competition is held to find the next empress of Honoku. The rules are simple. Survive the palace’s enchanted seasonal rooms. Conquer Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Marry the prince. All are eligible to compete—all except yōkai, supernatural monsters and spirits whom the human emperor is determined to enslave and destroy. Mari has spent a lifetime training to become empress. Winning should be easy. And it would be, if she weren’t hiding a dangerous secret. Mari is a yōkai with the ability to transform into a terrifying monster. If discovered, her life will be forfeit. As she struggles to keep her true identity hidden, Mari’s fate collides with that of Taro, the prince who has no desire to inherit the imperial throne, and Akira, a half-human, half-yōkai outcast. Torn between duty and love, loyalty and betrayal, vengeance and forgiveness, the choices of Mari, Taro, and Akira will decide the fate of Honoku in this beautifully written, edge-of-your-seat YA fantasy.
Disclaimer: I received an E-ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review as a part of a blog tour hosted by The Royal Polar Bear Reads and Bookablereads. This did not affect my criticism of the book in any way. All opinions are mine and mine alone.
A story rich with Japanese folklore, Empress of All Season is a well-written story of a girl, Mari—born a yokai but was belittled by her own clan’ women.
Emiko Jean really did a great job in writing this story. It is rich with vivid monsters and atmosphere that you’ll get transported into the era as quick as reading the first line of the book. It is a little bit cliche how the plot is laid out, a competition is being held for the hands of the prince *cough* The Hunger Games *cough* but it is definitely far from that. There are clear similarities, although the tension in this book is far higher because of the book being an entirely singular entity.
Despite being a standalone (this I only concluded for myself), the book has well-written characters who’re driven by their own desires. Each of them doing everything they can to achieve their goals.
It is truly inspiring how this book hides an underlying plot of morality. Empress of All Season is about true love, friendship, and family. I still feel that I needed more from the competition and I needed more from the story, but overall, I definitely enjoyed the book.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
When Emiko is not writing, she is reading. Most of her friends are imaginary. Before she became a writer she was an entomologist (fancy name for bug catcher), a candle maker, a florist, and most recently a teacher. She lives in Washington with her husband and children (unruly twins). She loves the rain.