Empress of All Seasons
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 Details

TitleEmpress of All Seasons
Author
ReleaseNov 6th, 2018
PublisherHMH Books for Young Readers
ISBN-139780544530942
Rating
GenreFantasy, Young Adult

Empress of All Seasons Review

  • Melanie
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.RTC after Halloween! <3 xxBlog | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Youtube | TwitchBuddy read with May at Forever and Everly, Lily at Sprinkles of Dreams, and Amy at A Court of Crowns and Quills! ❤
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  • Chelsea Humphrey
    January 1, 1970
    Even though this one didn't fully work for me, I still think it'll be an excellent story for many readers. It's not to say I didn't enjoy it at all, but I think my overall feel was too middle-of-the-road to garner anything higher than a 3 star rating towards my experience. The cover is swoon worthy and the influence of Japanese culture was stellar, and, honest to God, the intro was one of the most well written, engaging, and intriguing beginnings to an entirely unique fantasy idea that I've ever Even though this one didn't fully work for me, I still think it'll be an excellent story for many readers. It's not to say I didn't enjoy it at all, but I think my overall feel was too middle-of-the-road to garner anything higher than a 3 star rating towards my experience. The cover is swoon worthy and the influence of Japanese culture was stellar, and, honest to God, the intro was one of the most well written, engaging, and intriguing beginnings to an entirely unique fantasy idea that I've ever read.I really appreciated the idea behind this story; these hidden monsters, coupled with the importance of the female gender proved to be an exciting new development, one where I enjoyed the prince finally being described as the prize to be won in a competition instead of our typical princess/damsel in distress. Jean has also created a complex and fascinating new world here, one that stands out amongst a sea of "been there done that" fantasy lookalikes, and for that I am grateful and grant a standing ovation.I think my main issues were with the character development. I found myself only really connecting with Akira, and the romance felt a bit stale. For me, most of the characterization appeared one dimensional and too basic to compete with the lush, vivid descriptions of the world in which Empress Of All Seasons takes place. A little more work, and I think this author will be one to watch for in the highly competitive YA fantasy genre. Recommended to those who are looking for a creative, diverse, and atmospheric read to add to their fantasy line up. *I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
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  • C.G. Drews
    January 1, 1970
    I'll come back and review this closer to release day (promise!!! I actually will!!) but, just so you know, the world building for this Japanese-inspired fantasy world is an absolute stand out! It's vivid and gorgeous and gave me total Hunger Games vibes with the different rooms being magical and dangerously wicked seasons that the contestants have to fight through. I was a bit disenchanted with how slow it was tho and I didn't really ship anyone eeeep my bad.
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  • may ➹
    January 1, 1970
    can someone tell me [inhales] what the HELL just happened3.5 stars, rtc// buddy read with asian squad
  • Cait • A Page with a View
    January 1, 1970
    I sat on this review for several months to be sure aaaand I think this book just really wasn't a good fit for me personally... but many other readers will love it! It's an original, creative story with Japanese influences (which was by far my favorite part). Mari is a girl who's secretly a monster and doesn't believe a guy will ever love her. Her controlling mother has directed her to steal Taro's fortune by training to enter a competition where hundreds of girls try to survive the seasonal room I sat on this review for several months to be sure aaaand I think this book just really wasn't a good fit for me personally... but many other readers will love it! It's an original, creative story with Japanese influences (which was by far my favorite part). Mari is a girl who's secretly a monster and doesn't believe a guy will ever love her. Her controlling mother has directed her to steal Taro's fortune by training to enter a competition where hundreds of girls try to survive the seasonal rooms and win him. Mari's from a village of women where newborn boys are discarded as abominations and now her fate is death or marriage. Taro is the emperor's son who has his own plan and doesn't want his role to "be a prize in a stupid competition." His ruthless father hates the Yokai monsters and thinks any sympathy for them is weakness. The third main POV is Akira, Mari's friend who trains to kill Taro. I wasn't super into the romance and thought several parts of the story were too simplistic or rushed. The writing was average and the story as a whole fell flat for me. The worldbuilding was wonderful, though! There was just the right amount of descriptions to build a vivid, gorgeous setting while not getting lost in the process. I also liked how Mari realizes she's the only one who decides if she's beautiful or worthy.At the same time, no part of this story was particularly enjoyable to read. I'm used to most YA fantasy books being about bitter, brutal characters out to get revenge etc., but that's usually balanced with some note of hope. I had a hard time really getting into this story personally, but still think it's a unique idea with a gorgeous world. A lot of people will really enjoy it! Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC.
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  • Lily ☁️
    January 1, 1970
    I am … not ready to give this book a rating.// buddy read with Mel & May 💫Thank you to the publisher for providing an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for a spot on the blog tour and promotion of the book.Blog | Bloglovin’ | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter
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  • Carrie
    January 1, 1970
    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 wo 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 [email protected] 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.For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/
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  • Candace Robinson
    January 1, 1970
    I’m going to try and come back to this one. I love the monster type vibes, but I’m not feeling Mari or Taro, only Akira! But the setting is quite nice, and the writing is good!
  • Acqua
    January 1, 1970
    Empress of all Seasons is a YA fantasy book set in a Japanese-inspired world in which humans have enslaved magical creatures, the yōkai. Mari, the main character, is yōkai herself - as an animal wife, she's able to partially shapeshift - and she'll have to hide her powers to win the competition to marry the prince... and then steal his fortunes.I wish I could have loved this book as much as I wanted to.In the beginning, I thought it was going to be a fun if a bit cliché read with great worldbuil Empress of all Seasons is a YA fantasy book set in a Japanese-inspired world in which humans have enslaved magical creatures, the yōkai. Mari, the main character, is yōkai herself - as an animal wife, she's able to partially shapeshift - and she'll have to hide her powers to win the competition to marry the prince... and then steal his fortunes.I wish I could have loved this book as much as I wanted to.In the beginning, I thought it was going to be a fun if a bit cliché read with great worldbuilding, but the rest of the book proved me wrong: Empress of all Seasons is all but derivative, it has one of the most subversive endings I've read this year in YA fantasy. It takes so many common tropes - like a straight love triangle, star-crossed lovers, the girl cursed to never be loved who finds love in the end - and turns them on their head.It's a really clever, well-constructed book, and what I loved the most about it was its message: at its heart, Empress of all Seasons is a story about how you do not need romantic love to be complete. As almost every single YA main character seems to have their happiness tied to having a love interest, I think we need books like this one.But.As I said before, I couldn't love this book as much as I wanted to, because of its heteronormativity and bury your gays trope.⭐ Amatonormativity and heteronormativity: on one hand, I really appreciated how this book talked about how you do not need romance to be complete. However, it still framed, several times, the inability to feel romantic love as something unnatural. Also, the curse of the animal wives, who are all women, is that they will never be loved - because men are humans and will not understand their nature. Does that mean that they can never love each other...? Ever? Why? I mean, we have an all-female village, am I really supposed to think there are no lesbians⭐ Bury Your Gays: many girls die in the competition to conquer all seasons and then marry the prince. When one side character, Hanako, weapon master and fearsome yuki-onna, learns of one of the girls' death, she's really upset because that girl meant so much to her. Then she says that, even though she looks cold and distant, she is capable of love - and when you love someone, you end up thinking that they're invincible.I am tired of reading about f/f couples being torn apart by death.I realize you could also read Hanako's feelings as unrequited, so that her and the girl weren't actually a couple - and I would prefer to read it that way, it would have hurt a lot less if it had been explicitly that way - but there's nothing to point out that's the case, to ever make you think the dead girl was straight ((view spoiler)[the dead girl, Asami, was in the competition to kill the prince, not to marry him (hide spoiler)]), unless you just assume all characters are straight if they're not explicitly confirmed as queer, which is... heteronormativity.If it hadn't been for these two things, I probably would have given this book at least 4 stars, maybe more. I really did love most of it, from the slow trope deconstruction in the second half to the message and surprising ending. The only complaint I have apart from the ones I listed before is that this book was very plot-driven, and the characterization was often weaker than it should have been.My favorite aspect was the worldbuilding. Empress of all Seasons is set in a magical world with a rich mythology - there were interludes about the gods' lives, and those were fascinating - and the setting is, without a doubt, beautiful. Most of Empress of all Seasons is set in the Imperial Palace, and I loved all the descriptions of it: the magical-but-dangerous palace is one of my favorite tropes, and this book is about a competition in which girls have to survive deadly magical rooms, one for each season, to marry the prince.I loved the competition aspect: while I didn't always love the writing, I really liked the fight scenes. I thought it was really interesting to read too; it didn't feel like a 2012-era white YA dystopian in any way, unlike too many books about competitions.Also, there were so many magical creatures! Not only the main character is an animal wife and one side character is a yuki-onna, one of the PoV characters is also half-yōkai and half-human and struggles with his heritage, and there are several other magical characters like oni, kirin, kappa, and jorōgumo.2.5 stars.
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  • Cindy ✩☽ Savage Queen ♔
    January 1, 1970
    Hmm...cover's not bad. Definitely getting on Asian vibe so that's good at least lol ---A YA fantasy, steeped in Japanese folklore, that sounds like it was made to be an anime? Why have I not heard of this until now!?
  • Nadhira Satria
    January 1, 1970
    Asians in fantasy is my cup of tea
  • J.A. Ironside
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review 3.5 stars rounded up Do you like the anime films of Studio Ghibli? Do you have an appreciation for the aesthetic of Miyazaki? If so you’re going to love the world building in this book. There were times when the descriptions of the places and creatures of this book evoked the visuals of that anime in a visceral way. The plot follows Mari, a yokai girl (one of the Animal Wives), who has never quite fitted in amongst her people because she ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review 3.5 stars rounded up Do you like the anime films of Studio Ghibli? Do you have an appreciation for the aesthetic of Miyazaki? If so you’re going to love the world building in this book. There were times when the descriptions of the places and creatures of this book evoked the visuals of that anime in a visceral way. The plot follows Mari, a yokai girl (one of the Animal Wives), who has never quite fitted in amongst her people because she lacks the exceptional beauty and mastery of her inner beast expected of her. Trained to fight since she was very young to give her a chance at serving her people another way, Mari nevertheless maintains a strong sense of morality and kindness. Taro is the heir to the Empire but he is far less interested in dominating his future subjects than in creating and inventing things in his workshop. His father, the emperor, thinks it is time for him to marry and opens the tournament of the Seasons. All four seasons must be conquered by a prospective bride before she can become the next empress and marry the prince. Girls pour in from every region but amongst them are those with secrets. And then there’s Akira, the son of nightmares – a half yokai, half human boy – long term friend of Mari. Far less fearsome than his name implies, Akira is shy and kind with low self-esteem. At her mother’s insistence and toting her faithful naginata, Mari enters the tournament to compete for the prince’s hand in marriage, only to discover herself torn between filial duty, an affection she never expected to feel and horror at the enslavement of the yokai by the humans. Concealing her true identity, Mari must conquer the seasons and find a new way forward for human and yokai to live together in peace, but can she do it before open revolt breaks out?  This was a very light, fast read. It had a fairy tale feel – especially if you’re read Japanese fairy tales. The yokai themselves in both this book and in Japanese myth equate partly with European faerie folk and partly with demons. They are a wide and multi specied group and it was great to see so much care taken with them. The author lets them adhere to their natures – which for some yokai (as for some humans) is terrible since they do dreadful, bloody things. The settings feel authentic but also magical, again in that fairy tale way, and the little details of traditional Japanese utensils and buildings add cultural charm. (In many ways I appreciated all of this more having spent some time in Japan.) I really liked Mari as a character. She was forthright, sometimes funny, brave and most importantly, kind. I can’t remember the last time I warmed so immediately to a YA MC. Akira was likewise quite adorable although some of his choices were highly questionable. I rather liked Hanoka – the weapons master  - too although if that’s how she thinks you train someone to fight then perhaps she should look for a new job! All in all this was charming, poignant and rather dream like. I had my usual clench of irritation at how traditional Japanese martial arts and weaponry was portrayed (to be fair having actually studied martial arts for 25 years and specifically learned naginata and kitana among other things, I’m going to be looking for an unreasonable level of detail). But the story was engaging enough that this irritation was fleeting. I was more concerned with the instalove aspect between Mari and Taro. It was very inkeeping with the fairy tale ethos of the story and was by no means two dimensional – I mean they had interactions to back it up – but it was very fast. Which brings me on to my second issue; the pacing. I rejoice that this is a standalone – it absolutely worked and I am so thankful we weren’t just left on a cliff hanger. However, the ending was just a bit rushed. Don’t get me wrong, it was a satisfying ending with many good points, but the novel felt top heavy. A lot of space given to setting things up, and then the tournament happens in about 20% of the book and the denouement wraps everything up in the last 8%. This is not a long book at all either. It just felt like it needed more space. If I was being super picky, I’d also say that we are told how characters feel a lot of the time, it isn’t really shown. The psychic distance never really brings us close inside the characters’ heads. A lot of people will like it like that but I prefer a more intimate connection. However, there is so much that’s good about this book I can forgive a few wobbly bits of structure. I love the way the author has flipped a few stereotypes on their heads – the prince being the prize and wanting to run away for instance (don’t be deceived, it’s nothing like the Selection), the potential love triangle being strangled at birth by the heroine being honest from the start, the ruthless girl warrior also being kind and moral to name just a few. This is an extremely good Asian led fantasy YA novel. Highly recommend.Buddy read with Jen, Chelsea and Amy.
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  • Lauren Stoolfire
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.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 woul I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.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. Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean is a uniquely creative new standalone YA fantasy. While it wasn't quite a favorite, it still has things to love about it. The concept of the novel drew me to it right away - I mean, it's a fantasy novel inspired by Japanese culture, mythology, and folklore after all. Right from the opening chapter I knew the author's vividly descriptive writing style would completely suck me into world of Honoku. Now that I've finished reading the novel, I can officially say that Jean's world-building is absolutely phenomenal and is the overall standout of the book. The setting and descriptions are so well written that I felt like I was actually there seeing everything first hand, especially when it came to the season rooms. As blown away as I was by the world-building, the characters and character development left something to be desired. I never really connected with any of the perspective characters. They were all intriguing, but none of them really stood out. All have the potential to be great, but they fall a little flat. Also there are times when the pacing isn't balanced - there are sections that moved much too slow and then others where too much was going on to keep up with. Overall, Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean is a good standalone YA fantasy novel. It has moments of real greatness when it comes to world-building, but then there are other places like character development that could do with some work to really polish it off into a truly unforgettable story. If you're interested in Japanese culture, folklore, and mythology or even Princess Mononoke, I do recommend giving Emiko Jean's newest richly atmospheric release a try.
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  • Daphne (Illumicrate)
    January 1, 1970
    Men are conditioned to take. Women are conditioned to give.This book is absolutely wonderful. I've read a spate of Asian-inspired YA fantasies at the moment and this is my favourite. I loved the rich world that the author built, a Japanese-inspired world where yokai are treated as second class citizens by a hateful human Emperor. Mari is our protagonist, a yokai Animal Wife, who comes from an all-woman clan where they trick human men into marrying them and make off with their treasure. Mari has Men are conditioned to take. Women are conditioned to give.This book is absolutely wonderful. I've read a spate of Asian-inspired YA fantasies at the moment and this is my favourite. I loved the rich world that the author built, a Japanese-inspired world where yokai are treated as second class citizens by a hateful human Emperor. Mari is our protagonist, a yokai Animal Wife, who comes from an all-woman clan where they trick human men into marrying them and make off with their treasure. Mari has been tasked with winning the highest prize of all, become the prince's wife by defeating the four seasonal rooms to become the Empress of All Seasons. The story has three POVs: Mari; her best friend, half-human/half-yokai Akira (aka The Son of Nightmares, aka, the best character); and Taro, future emperor and metal tinkerer, The Cold Prince. I honestly loved each of their point of views and the supporting cast is brilliant as well. It was well plotted and paced, and I couldn't put it down. I especially enjoyed how the story made me reflect on perceptions of beauty, gender roles, and prejudice. It's rare to have a standalone fantasy that feels complete on its own. I'm sure there could be more stories set in this world, but I'm very satisfied with how it wrapped up. Highly recommended.
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  • rachel
    January 1, 1970
    if you prefer plot over characterisation, this will be more your thing🍂 Rep: #Ownvoices Japanese cast. 🌻 Trigger warnings for body shaming, slavery, systematic oppression, rape, child abuse, parental abandonment, self-injury, childbirth, forced adoption, death, murder, exile, death by starvation, cyclones, poisoning, explosions, fire, animal attack, animal cruelty, animal death, and bullying.
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  • Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore
    January 1, 1970
    My thanks to NetGalley and Orion Publishing Group for a review copy of this book. This one is again a young adult fantasy–adventure, set in a world inhabited by humans and by yōkai (beasts, some of whom are part human, or have the ability to transform), the latter being subjugated by humans, kept in collars with all kinds of restrictions. Our heroine Mari, belongs to one group of yōkai, the Animal Wives, who are exceptionally beautiful and have a human form (with the ability to change into beast My thanks to NetGalley and Orion Publishing Group for a review copy of this book. This one is again a young adult fantasy–adventure, set in a world inhabited by humans and by yōkai (beasts, some of whom are part human, or have the ability to transform), the latter being subjugated by humans, kept in collars with all kinds of restrictions. Our heroine Mari, belongs to one group of yōkai, the Animal Wives, who are exceptionally beautiful and have a human form (with the ability to change into beasts at will), and who marry rich men and make away with their fortune. Mari not having been blessed with the looks of the other animal wives, her mother plans a different future for her. She trains her rigorously to win the ultimate contest, a battle against the seasons, held in the imperial palace to choose the bride for the prince, and in effect the next Empress of the land. On the other side, we have the prince Taro, who doesn’t wish to either be a prince, nor a ‘prize’ in a contest, and is happiest when he is with his inventions, working with metal to create various things. And we also have Akira, a half-human-half-ghost, who has been Mari’s friend and loves her but feels he needs to prove himself to earn her affections. This is a story that has many aspects of course, love, family, the contest, betrayal, and duty, but at the heart of it is the distinction/discrimination that one people makes against the other, and the consequences for them both, and for the world they (we) live in.I had requested this fantasy title mostly because of the Japanese fairytale–folklore background to it, and I really enjoyed these elements—the story is told from the perspective of three characters, Mari, Taro, and Akira, but interspersed between their chapters are stories of the gods and goddesses, who face similar struggles, similar issues as we do, and must face the consequences as well. The elements of the seasons too were enjoyable (certainly a different idea), and the monsters pretty imaginative as well. From other reviews, I see a couple of criticisms of this book were on account of its plot being too similar to other books of this genre, and of the contest, which seemed like the main ‘event’ in the book so to speak, being too short a part of the book. As far as I first goes, I did see some similarities with other such books involving contests and such (The Hunger Games, for one), but since I haven’t read very many titles in the genre, it didn’t bother me too much. Plus, I actually rather enjoyed the plot, I wasn’t sure how things would pan out in the end, and in fact I really liked the ending of the book (definitely not a typical one). The pacing too was good—the book moves really fast (I’d probably have read it a lot faster, except that it was an e-book, and I am generally slower with those). Re the second criticism, however, I agree, the contest part did feel a little too short considering that was basically what everything was centred on. The characters too were quite likeable, though the ‘villain’ of the piece was pretty obvious, and the romance was just ok (while it was building up ok, again it felt like everything happens too quickly). But the central points of the story on discrimination whether against genders or against just different living creatures, I think stood out well and is one that can’t be made enough times. An enjoyable read for me, and certainly one that much more than just a fantasy–adventure!
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  • Sherwood Smith
    January 1, 1970
    Mari is a yokai, a supernatural being. Her clan is the Animal Wives, who are a very cunning, beautiful, and cold type of yokai. They enchant human men, marry them and rob them and return to their village with their husbands' riches. Mari is that rarity, a homely Animal Wife, which earns her mother some scorn among the fierce women. But her mother trains Mari in weapons, and from childhood sends her to kill roaming samurai as practice. Mari hates to kill. She has an ambivalent relationship with h Mari is a yokai, a supernatural being. Her clan is the Animal Wives, who are a very cunning, beautiful, and cold type of yokai. They enchant human men, marry them and rob them and return to their village with their husbands' riches. Mari is that rarity, a homely Animal Wife, which earns her mother some scorn among the fierce women. But her mother trains Mari in weapons, and from childhood sends her to kill roaming samurai as practice. Mari hates to kill. She has an ambivalent relationship with her mother, who is determined that Mari will go to the capital and compete against all the other women in order to marry the crown prince. Who she can then kill, and be empress of all the treasure . . .Mari is not quite alone. She has two friends , one of whom is Akira, who has inherited his mother’s scars. He’s the Nightmare’s son, able to zip around invisibly. He becomes one of the POV characters, along with Prince Taro, who loathes being crown prince, and means to escape by means of his amazing inventions in his lab.So here we have the basic YA setup of the dreaded Love Triangle, but hang onto your hat, because there is absolutely nothing predictable about how the story goes.Mari arrives in the capital after being escorted by maimed samurai (a not-insignificant encounter), and is ready to compete against all the other young women. The “gladiator coliseum” (because yes, one immediately thinks of Hunger Games and its many copies) are the four magical rooms in the palace called the Seasons. Each is quite deadly.Emiko Jean takes the time to not only immerse the reader deeply in Japanese mythology, and vivid imagery of a magical, mythic, dangerous Japan, she gives all the character life and complexity, right down to the servants and spear carriers.The result is a tight, fast-paced, emotionally intense adventure novel with splashes of mythic wonder. My only complaint is that the ending feels rushed, forcing events to (view spoiler)[ what felt like a finger-shaking feminist (hide spoiler)] close. But getting there is a terrific experience.Copy provided by Netgalley
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  • Emma
    January 1, 1970
    i won this book in a giveaway here on goodreads and the moment i took this book out of the mailbox, i started reading it. from the first paragraph, i was hooked in this story. It was so unique and i've never read anything like it. Empress of All Seasons is like a mix of Mulan, The Hunger Games, and The Selection. which if you ask me, is a great combination. this was a fast paced, fun read with such wonderful characters. i was so satisfied with the ending of this book, i can't imagine a better en i won this book in a giveaway here on goodreads and the moment i took this book out of the mailbox, i started reading it. from the first paragraph, i was hooked in this story. It was so unique and i've never read anything like it. Empress of All Seasons is like a mix of Mulan, The Hunger Games, and The Selection. which if you ask me, is a great combination. this was a fast paced, fun read with such wonderful characters. i was so satisfied with the ending of this book, i can't imagine a better ending. i definitely would recommend this to everyone. PLEASE READ THIS BOOK!!
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  • Lea (drumsofautumn)
    January 1, 1970
    BLESS!!! I requested this from HMH on both Netgalley and Edelweiss and now FINALLY got accepted on NetgalleyUK by Orion!!
  • Beatrice in Bookland
    January 1, 1970
    *I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*”The rules were simple: Survive the rooms. Conquer the seasons. Win the prince.”DNF @42%What a disappointment. Flat (and not very likeable) characters, way too slow moving plot, basic writing style. I don’t have enough strength (or time to waste) to keep reading, so bye book 👋🏼
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    Wow, this is one stellar fantasy. The world-building is just too-notch (rich and full of detail). Plus there’s something so beautiful about a strong yet vulnerable heroine. This story goes far beyond the “competition” fantasy trope. There’s deep meaning and nuanced undertones here. Don’t miss it!
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  • Cyn (semi-hiatus)
    January 1, 1970
    There's a cover now! It's nice
  • Ishmeen {hiatus}
    January 1, 1970
    THANK YOU NETGALLEY FOR GIVING ME AN ARC FOR THIS OMG IM SO EXCITED!!!!
  • Fadwa (Word Wonders)
    January 1, 1970
    *I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange of an honest review*Ok but...can someone explain to me what just happened???Ok no I actually know what happened, IT WAS PRETTY DAMN CLEAR. AND IT WAS AMAZING.Not gonna lie, this book and i were off to a rocky start. As much as I loved the setting and worldbuilding some minor things (that i'll detail in my full review) kind of made me go :// at the book. ButBUT.THOSE LAST 100ish PAGES. THOSE WERE FUCKING AMAZING. MADE ME CLUTCH MY PEARL *I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange of an honest review*Ok but...can someone explain to me what just happened???Ok no I actually know what happened, IT WAS PRETTY DAMN CLEAR. AND IT WAS AMAZING.Not gonna lie, this book and i were off to a rocky start. As much as I loved the setting and worldbuilding some minor things (that i'll detail in my full review) kind of made me go :// at the book. ButBUT.THOSE LAST 100ish PAGES. THOSE WERE FUCKING AMAZING. MADE ME CLUTCH MY PEARLS KIND OF AMAZING. I was on the edge of my seat, no idea what would happen, playing a hundred different scenarios in my head. NONE OF WHICH ENDED UP HAPPENING.I'm just. Please read this book.RTC!!!
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  • Adelina
    January 1, 1970
    THIS SOUNDS PROMISING BUT .... Please tell me her "secret identity" isn't the fact that she is a trans or smth?You can never be sure in 2018 with YA booksP.S. I want to note that I wrote the review when description was much shorter and ended with secret identity which would make the guy hate her
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  • Vicky Who Reads
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 starsSO GOOD. Loved reading this one!!!
  • Kristi Housman Confessions of a YA Reader
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed Empress Of All Seasons.  I can't tell you how happy all these Asian fantasy/retellings are making me.  I haven't read one that I've disliked yet.Empress Of All Seasons is told by Mari, Taro, and Akira. Mari is an animal wife.  Her people are usually beautiful and can transform fully into animals.  Mari has been told her whole life that she's not beautiful and she can only partially transform.  The animal wives seduce men, get pregnant, and steal their money.  They come back home I really enjoyed Empress Of All Seasons.  I can't tell you how happy all these Asian fantasy/retellings are making me.  I haven't read one that I've disliked yet.Empress Of All Seasons is told by Mari, Taro, and Akira. Mari is an animal wife.  Her people are usually beautiful and can transform fully into animals.  Mari has been told her whole life that she's not beautiful and she can only partially transform.  The animal wives seduce men, get pregnant, and steal their money.  They come back home to the mountains where the yokai are free and not collared.  Their animals are only transferred to females, so if they have a male baby, they give him to the river.  They keep the girls.  Since Mari wasn't traditionally beautiful, her mother had her train early on.  She expected her to go compete to become the next empress.  Yokai were forbidden to compete, so Mari would have to keep her animal well hidden.Akira is Mari's not so secret friend.  He is the Son of Nightmares and lives outside of Mari's village.  Akira is in love with Mari, but she only sees him as her best friend.  When Mari leaves to go compete, Akira follows behind.  He finds the weapons master and learns to fight/kill.  He wants to be strong for Mari, hoping that she'll fall in love with him.  He is also there to keep an eye on her.  Hanoko, Snow Girl, is the weapons master.  She lives with an Oni, Ren.  While Akira trains with them, he not only finds information, but he finds friends.  Hanoko is planning a rebellion of yokai that are going to kill the emperor and the prince.  She has a yokai in the competition. Taro is the emperor's son.  He isn't really thrilled with everything that comes with power.  He spends his time creating metal animals.  Taro also created the collars that are put on the yokai that contain a lot of their power.  Taro is often torn between taking over for his father, and what his heart tells him.  He doesn't hate the yokai as much as his father, but he is loyal and will follow most of what he's told.  Taro has a half brother, Satoshi, that wants nothing more than the power and love of his father.  I enjoyed the pacing and action in the book.  To compete, the girls had to survive the seasons.  Each room had a season with dangers everywhere.  They had to solve a riddle and find the scrolls before the others.  Many of the girls didn't survive the rooms.  There is a bit of a love triangle with Mari, Taro, and Akira.  But Mari is a very strong female that really didn't feel like she needed a man, even when she had feelings for Taro.  I loved her attitude and growth  at the end of the book.I gave this one 4  1/2 stars (rounded up to 5).  Thank you to HMH Teen and Netgalley for my copy for review. 
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  • Jackie
    January 1, 1970
    Wow this book does not hold back. “Empress of all Seasons” is a powerful story about a girl raised to believe she was less than because of her plainness, work to become that of a warrior ready to join the competition to win the title of Empress. Coming face to face with the horrors her people and others of a similar kind face in the city she pushes herself to succeed and bring honor to all and more importantly grant them the freedom they desire above all, but when enemies looking to enslave and Wow this book does not hold back. “Empress of all Seasons” is a powerful story about a girl raised to believe she was less than because of her plainness, work to become that of a warrior ready to join the competition to win the title of Empress. Coming face to face with the horrors her people and others of a similar kind face in the city she pushes herself to succeed and bring honor to all and more importantly grant them the freedom they desire above all, but when enemies looking to enslave and rule go out of their way to tarnish her name she must rise up and fight using all that she knows and accept herself for who she is and not how she appears. I know I probably shouldn’t say wow again but wow. I don’t even know where to begin, on one hand I thought this was going to follow the usual format of most fantasy novels where there’s a series of tasks the heroine needs to complete in order to gain a member of nobility’s favor while abandoning where they’ve come from but this turns that completely around and gives us someone who wasn’t able to shine until she left home but never forgot her roots and instead learned to embrace all that she was in order to go head to head with the enemy. There’s a lot of feminism in this that I have to applaud, everything from the main character herself to the snippets of mythology that sprinkle throughout this book giving us better insights into the world and the creators all the way through to the conclusion that parallels that of Mari’s story. My only critique is that this is a stand alone! I wanted to see more of this new found self confidence and the power she had in herself to stand up for her people! Give me an entire trilogy of her and I would be the happiest girl in the world! This book was a surprise and if you’re thinking your getting an elemental hunger games you better think again because this is a book I’m going to be recommending to any one and everyone for a long time because it’s so much bigger than surviving a competition it’s about the acceptance of who you are and that is good enough and no one, especially men or anyone else who thinks to tie you down can take that away from you. **special thanks to the publishers and netgalley for providing an arc in exchange for a fair and honest review**
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  • Lauren Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    I did not like the book, unlike the majority of book bloggers on Goodreads who rated the Empress of All Seasons a five out of five. I would give it a one. Right at the start, my first impression was that I’ve read this same unoriginal YA fantasy too many times. The same bland characters who win the games and fall in love and all that hullabaloo. It’s exhausting. It did have an interesting premise as it is the woman who enters the competition to win the prince’s hand in marriage but it completely I did not like the book, unlike the majority of book bloggers on Goodreads who rated the Empress of All Seasons a five out of five. I would give it a one. Right at the start, my first impression was that I’ve read this same unoriginal YA fantasy too many times. The same bland characters who win the games and fall in love and all that hullabaloo. It’s exhausting. It did have an interesting premise as it is the woman who enters the competition to win the prince’s hand in marriage but it completely fell through. Both the writing and world building were undeveloped, and it made reading this book a chore rather than a enjoy. As *surprise* romance plays a mammoth part within the plot, I found myself skimming the bucket loads of cringey duologue.""We complement each other.”A corner of Taro’s lips twitched. He took her hand, pressing a kiss to her palm. “You best me in combat and in rhetoric.”Mari smiled, a flush spreading from her neck to her toes. Sh nodded at the Fall Room door. “I hold no favorable memories of that room.”Taro’s eyes flickered to Mari’s. “Someday, you will have to tell me how you survived it.” Mari kept silent, remembering the smell of the oni’s breath, the feel of its flesh as her claws raked its face. “I must have some secrets,” she teased.“Not from your husband,” Taro corrected dark gaze raking her up and down.”I swear the entire book is like that.
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  • Aneta Bak
    January 1, 1970
    I can't wait to start reading this :) So happy I got an early copy.
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