Title: Empress of All Seasons
Author: Emiko Jean
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: November 6, 2018
Page Count: 384
My rating: 4 stars
About the book:
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.
Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean is a young adult fantasy book that is inspired by the author’s own Japanese heritage. I think if you took the Japanese infused story complete with monsters and tossed it into a blender with the Hunger Games and a smidge of the Selection then blend it all up you come up with Empress of All Seasons.
Mari is a Yokai, she looks human but has the ability to transform into a monster. Yokai are feared Honoku so Mari hides who she is along with her small village of women. When grown the woman are expected to marry and then steal their husband’s wealth but Mari’s mother gave her the ultimate goal, marry the prince.
Mari has spent her whole life training to enter the competition to win the honor of marrying the prince of Honoku. Those that try are expected to conquer the four rooms of the seasons in an all out battle for the crown and the prince’s heart. Taro, the prince, however doesn’t like being a prize to be won and doesn’t agree with his father on how Honoku should be ran.
The story is told from changing the point of view between the characters. Mari is one of those snarky bad@ss female leads that pushes back when she needs to, then there is Taro the Prince who also goes against what is expected of him but he’s a bit uppity about it so I wasn’t too sure on him, but there’s also Akira who is part human and part yokai who Mari had known her whole life which you also might guess leads to a bit of a triangle, just to warn those who hate that set up. While there are touches of other stories this one still had a uniqueness of it’s own and I rather enjoyed reading it.
I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
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About the author:
Emiko Jean is the author of the psychological suspense novel, We’ll Never Be Apart. Her second novel, Empress of All Seasons, is inspired by her Japanese heritage. Emiko lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and children. Aside from reading and writing, she loves hiking and travel. Find her at: emikojean.com or follow her on Twitter at: @emikojeanbooks.