Blog Tour! Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean

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Title: Empress of All Seasons
Author: Emiko Jean
Release Date: November 6, 2018
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 384
Source: ARC provided by Raincoast Books
Add to Goodreads | | Indigo

Overall: 5 STARS

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 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 in this beautifully written, edge-of-your-seat YA fantasy. 

Each generation, a deadly competition is held to choose the next Empress of Honoku. All are eligible to compete—except yōkai, supernatural monsters and spirits whom the human emperor is determined to enslave or destroy. Renee Ahdieh's Flame in the Mist meets Kiera Cass' The Selection, Emiko Jean's Empress of All Seasons is a thrilling and utterly captivating standalone Japanese-inspired fantasy. You'll definitely want to set aside some time to read Empress of All Seasons in one sitting because you won't be able to put the book down! It's just SO good and suspenseful. I loved reading it!

Mari has never felt comfortable in her skin nor among her clan of Animal Wives, female yōkai who marry rich husbands and then steal their fortunes before returning to Tsuma, their remote village in the mountains. When it became apparent that Mari didn't inherit her mother's beautiful features, all the better to lure potential husbands, she was forced to train for the competition instead. Conquer the seasons. Marry the prince. Steal his fortune. Surviving in the Palace of Illusions is the only way Mari can ever return home.

Akira has always been an outcast; half-human, half-yōkai, he's known as the Son of Nightmares. His friendship and love for Mari has been a lifeline since they were children, but he wishes he could be as strong and brave as her. He follows Mari to the Imperial City, seeking out the mysterious Weapons Master to train him and finds himself joining the yōkai resistance. And then there's Taro, the prince who dreams of leaving the palace and doesn't want to be anyone's prize.

I loved that the book alternated POVS between Mari, Akira, and Taro. It gave us the opportunity to understand their thoughts and actions, to empathize with their self-doubts and insecurities, and hope they could all make it out of the precarious situation alive. They were each struggling in their own way, torn between their responsibilities, duty, vengeance and love. And I really loved the world-building in Empress of All Seasons! All the little details, from the descriptions of the various kinds of yōkai to the samurai and the kimonos that Mari wears—it all brought the story absolutely to life. 

Lately, I've been feeling kind of burned out with the YA fantasy genre because half the books seem to have similar plots or covers. It's #ownvoices books like Empress of All Seasons that I appreciate for giving me something entirely new and exciting to read from a fresh perspective. Dear publishers, more Asian-inspired fantasy books by POC authors, please!

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  1. I'm glad you enjoyed this one so much!! And yes please to more Asian-inspired fantasy books :D

  2. It's #ownvoices books like Empress of All Seasons that I appreciate for giving me something entirely new and exciting to read from a fresh perspective.

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