*I received an advance reading copy from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange of an honest review.
Title: Empress of All Seasons
Author: Emiko Jean
Published: November 6th, 2018 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
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 is a compelling Japanese-inspired light fantasy that will surely keep you on the edge of your seat. Emiko Jean wrote a very beautiful story with its interesting characters and a well-done world building. Set in Honoku, where a competition will be held to find the next empress of their empire. Everyone are suitable to compete except yokai, someone who has the ability to transform into a monster. To spice things up, we follow our main lead, Mari who is an Animal Wife (a kind of yokai) and will be participating in the competition. It is a great risk because if Mari’s identity is discovered, her life will come to an end.
First things first, let’s all scream together because this is an Asian-inspired book! I found myself smiling whenever I stumbled upon a Japanese word that is really familiar with me. Either because I learned it from school or I heard it being mentioned since I was a kid (great example: kimono, taiko, etc.). It also helped that there is a glossary at the end of the book. It is very rich in culture, too! We also got some interludes about the gods and goddesses lives which I highly enjoyed and I’m sure you will too!
The world of Honoku is utterly captivating and draws you into the story more! It’s detailed and helped us picture the world easily! Her writing style is simply beautiful so I also recommended it for a more younger readers.
As for the characters, I loved them all! Each characters have their own flaws and struggles which makes them realistic! They also shined in their own way! I looked up to Mari for being so strong, not just physically but also emotionally. She’s such a brave character yet fragile. I feel like a part of me is being represented in almost all the characters actually
(now I’m getting emotional writing this). TOO MUCH LOVE.
“She was complete by herself.”
I’m deeply in awe with what Emiko Jean wants to convey through this story. I learned a lot of things from the book! You don’t need any validation from anyone, you just need YOU. You are beautiful in your own way and you are free to choose the road you will take. Accept who you really are first before anything else and the other things will come next smoothly.
I also want to mention the ending of the book. I’m not gonna say anymore to prevent any spoilers but the ending is woven through the morals of the story. AND I CAN’T FORGET IT.
This book is purely fantastic and everyone should definitely add this to their TBRs! Empress of All Seasons is a rare find stand-alone fantasy that will hook you up until its last bits.
All in all, I gave this book a 5 stars! I highly recommend if you want to read a light yet meaningful, action-pack, and enthralling Asian-fantasy! Perfect for fans of The Selection and The Hunger Games.
We’ve learned the truth about the world, and now we must speak it. Silence is the cousin of invisibility.
And to wrap it all up, here’s a moodboard for you!
GET YOUR OWN COPY OF EMPRESS OF ALL SEASONS HERE: Indie Bound | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
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