I saw this book making its rounds in the bookverse and I thought it sounded very interesting but I wasn’t 100% sold. However, I’m on an Asian-inspired fantasy/sci-fi binge so I picked it up. I will never regret that decision.
This ARC was provided to me by NetGalley and Orion Publishing in return for an honest review. Thank you!
Empress of All Seasons
by Emiko Jean
Synopsis by NetGalley
In a deadly tournament to become empress, any may enter but only one will survive, and one competitor doesn’t just plan to win, she’s going to steal the Emperor’s fortune. . .
In 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, and you can marry the prince. All are eligible to compete – all except yokai, 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 yokai 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-yokai 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.
Badass female character
The second paragraph in the first chapter in this book ends with “The Killing Room and Mari was executioner” – 😳 aaaaaaaand I’m hooked…
This was a surprisingly badass book with badass characters.
This book did not follow the mainstream of how to write a book, and I loved it! That ending, I didn’t see it coming at all. Everything that followed was to my liking and I really enjoyed the ending and its twists and turns. Yes, this book could be bigger and bolder but it wasn’t, and to me, that was exactly how it should be.
The story follows Mari as she tries to do what her clan can’t do, fight to conquer the seasons, get the prince and his fortune. The story is narrated by three characters: Mari, the crown prince and Akiro the best friend. It’s all centred around Mari’s competition for the position as Empress. While brewing below the surface is a rebellion against the emperor and his crown prince and I enjoyed how these two plot lines merged and meandered between each other.
The world building is quite easy to follow as the reader is slowly introduced to the different aspects to it. Small pieces at the time.
It’s a very fascination world and I really like it. I liked all these different creatures and what they could do. I liked the gods and goddesses and their stories. And I liked the way the society was build up. I’m not sure if this is going to be a series though the ending suggests not, I hope there will be more books set in this world with these creatures.
The magic in this book is mainly focused on the creatures or half creatures as far as I’ve understood. There are other people with abilities but it’s not fully explained where they come from or why they have them.
Mari is the main character and is quite awesome and badass but kind and caring at the same time. I felt a real connection to her and I could really relate to her thoughts and feelings. This is probably the main reason why I enjoyed the book so much.
Taro is the crown prince and a little nerd 🤓 I really liked him throughout the whole story and found him a satisfying romantic lead. Though he seems to be a misunderstood man. They seem to be very common in the YA universe.
Akira is the best friend and half ghost? I was a bit confused about that. I mean did his mum have him before or after she woke up as a vengeful spirit?!? I did figure it out towards the end, but it really confused me in the beginning. I did like him as a best friend and the stuff he did was logical and made sense in the story. I never really questioned his decisions or directions.
Minor and to the side but acknowledged in a positive way.
The writing was smooth and flowed nicely through the book. I didn’t notice any grammar faults or any misformulation of sentences. I really enjoyed the authors writing and their style. I would definitely pick up another book by this author again 😁
I really enjoyed this journey and its ending with all its twists and turns. Even the shortness of it I liked. It really intrigued me how much ending was needed to tell the important message in the last paragraph, which (surprise!) I really liked too.
Have you read this? What did you think?