Blog Tour hosted by THE ROYAL POLAR BEAR READS and BOOKABLE READS.
Huge thanks to NetGalley, the publishers, the author, and the hosts for providing me a free eARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
Duty and home, the whole before the self.
— Emiko Jean, Empress of All Seasons
Title: Empress of All Seasons
Author: Emiko Jean
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Release Date: November 6, 2018
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.
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.
Before I begin a proper review, can we please take a minute to admire that GORGEOUS cover?!?! It is an absolute stand out!
Also, can I just grab a pillow and tissues because HOLY MOLEY THIS BROUGHT ME TO TEARS. The first part had me like,’Okay, a well-written and typical Asian fantasy…’ but in the end I was trying to contain my wretched sobbing because family members were nearby. The book was a bit slow-paced in the beginning but as things get heated up i feel as though it’s a race against time.
It’s quite a bit difficult to express my feelings after reading this book. I feel happy and depressed and sad and surprised at the same time, laced with tendrils of grief and excitement.
Sometimes words are so much more difficult to form than fists.
–Emiko Jean, Empress of All Seasons
There was nothing remotely extraordinary about the characters. They’ve got some well-loved qualities–bravery, pride, cunning, wit, and extreme stubbornness. They’re also fiercely loyal and capable of battling their own demons. I’m actually glad they aren’t some over-exaggerated heroes or pitiful villains. I’m terrified of handing out free spoilers, so I won’t comment on these qualities any further haha.
The world building drew me in! It’s the perfect fantasy influenced by Japanese culture. It’s so vivid and magical and so easy to lose yourself into.
The plot is interesting, but common among Asian fantasy books. However, this one drew me in right from the beginning. The first part was what I had expected, stuff that I’ve read about several times before. But as the story goes on, things get WAAAY heated and I just couldn’ stop reading! By the time I’ve reached the ending, I realized that Empress of All Seasons tells a story completely unique from the other Asian fantasies I’ve read before. And speaking of endings…
This book gave me the feels of a Japanese version of the Hunger Games and the Selection because of the fierce competition and how the contestants literally have to fight for their prince and their own survival…or die trying. Add a sprinkle of yokai monsters and fantasy elements and voila! You have a perfectly brewed Japanese fantasy in your hands.
The conclusion was like…BOOM! THE END! I still could not believe it when I realized I had finished reading the last word in the last sentence in the last chapter of this book’s story. The shock hadn’t probably registered then, but eventually it did, shortly followed by ugly crying. And after that came *mild* depression and the urge to just curl up and hug myself. Which is exactly what I did.
Also, let me point out that this book shows us that not all women are sentenced to housework and men. It is a Japanese fantasy embodiment of feminism and equality.
“We’ve been pushed around and forced into quiet rooms our whole lives. Nobody’s ever asked us what we wanted. The prize isn’t the prince. It’s the power.”
–Emiko Jean, Empress of All Seasons
“‘What is too much? Love? Equality?’ He said, ‘Yes. You are pretty. That should be enough.'”
My point is, you guys should read this book, and if you don’t like the first part, PLEASE PLEASE TRY reading until the very end. You (hopefully) won’t regret it, promise.
5 / 5 Dragon Eggs
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Have you read Empress of All Seasons? What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!
Also, what YA Asian Fantasy books would you recommend?
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