Today, I am featuring Empress of All Seasons as part of the PH Blog Tour hosted by Carmel of Bookablereads and Rafael of The Royal Polar Bear Reads. Also, I would like to say my thank you for both of them for giving me an opportunity to join this tour, and to HMH Books for Young Readers for providing me a digital copy of this book thru NetGalley.
Title: Empress of All Seasons
Author: Emiko Jean
Format: Digital ARC
Published: November 6, 2018 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Reading Period: October 29 – November 1, 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.
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.
Name: Emiko, Emi, Emmers Bemmers Boo Boo (only my mother calls me this)
Occupation: Writer and reader, most days reader before writer
Location: Vancouver, WA
Family: Yes. One husband. Two children – b/g twins!
Previous Occupations: Bug tamer, teacher, florist, candlestick maker and vagabond. My friends and I once (poorly) fixed up an old van. We drove it across the country. The bumper fell off and we lost the brakes in the Redwoods.
Qualifications: None. But I strongly believe in “fake it till you make it” and asking for forgiveness rather than permission.
Favorite foods: ALL OF THEM. Though I do have a special place in my heart for girl scout cookies, frosted animal cookies and anything with pasta.
Favorite time of year: Fall. I also love Christmastime (even though I’m Jewish).
Favorite music: Depends on mood and activity. For writing: Mumford and Sons, The Strumbellas, The Head and the Heart, Queen, Bowie, Pink Floyd … For general work (building this website, creating graphic etc.): Anything hip-hop, specifically Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Dyme Def, Atmosphere, Matisyahu …
Favorite authors: Too many to count.
Last concert: Jay-Z and Kanye West – Watch the Throne
Favorite television shows: Antiques Roadshow, Call the Midwife, anything BBC, anything real housewives (no judgement please)
Least favorite things: The word “moist” – I dare you to find it in one of my novels.
Unusual talents/facts: I am fantastic at finding four leaf clovers. I can also make three loops with my tongue. I’ve also won my fair share of Texas Hold’em tournaments.
Rafael of The Royal Polar Bear Reads
Carmel of Bookablereads
Jonathan of Wander with Jon
Nikki of Take Me Away
Vivian of Vanilla Angel Pages
Jen of Jen D Bibliophile
Jenny of Levicorpvs Blog
Hanamae of The Wraith Reads
Cristina of Girl in the Pages
Shaine of Wanderer in Neverland
Akisha of akithroughbooks
Ela of The Ultimate Fangirl
Princess of Princess and Pages
Lily of Sprinkles of Dreams
Joel of Descendant of Poseidon Reads
Imogene of Amidst the Pages
Leslie of Bibliophilekid
Myrth of Cliste Bella
Justine of Bookish Wisps
Athena of The Night Faerie
Ramnele of Bookdragonism
Erika of The Nocturnal Fey
Empress of All Seasons is a Japanese folklore inspired, that tells a story of Mari, who is half-human half-yōkai.
Mari’s mother, Tami, prepared and trained her for the competition. The competition is held each time the prince in line is ready to marry whoever conquers the four-season room. Her clan is known as Animal Wives, and they lured men through their beauty. She is an executioner and very skilled in using naginata. Akira, on the other hand, known as Son of Nightmares, is half-human half-yōkai and Mari’s friend. He believes and trusts Mari in every situation. Taro is human and the prince of Imperial City, where yōkai are slave, and collared and killed if the Emperor command it. He has a soft spot for yōkai, and creates animal metals and give its life.
The world in Empress of All Seasons gives me chills. It is like I am reading a manga and it has animé feels. In this book, it introduces many yōkai such as Animal Wives, Oni, Winter girl, jorōgumo, etc. The most striking yōkai for me is the Animal Wives wherein in their village they are all alpha female. FEMALE DOMINANCE. They are trained use their beauty as a weapon to lure men. They value their clan and believes in duty first before theirselves.
Moreover, because of the Emperor’s irrational way of treating yōkai, The Resistance were formed. Their objective is to be free from the Emperor and to live freely alongside with mortals. The principle of the Emperor and priests that yōkai are evil, should not rule, must be chained/ collared/ punished, should not live with humans is like ethically wrong. However, the dilemma here is that, if they are free, some might abuse their power, they might harm human because of their supernatural powers. But the thing is, since they are being collared they are treated like slave and has lower rank than human.
Going back to the story, I think each room is not presented well. For me, it lacks of detailed description and action part when Mari compete in each room. I was looking forward to seeing Mari in action in each room. Further, I feel betrayed of Taro because of his reaction towards Mari when he found the truth. The twists and revelations put me on edge and most are I’m speechless. However, there is one twist that I predict correctly.
The story about god and goddesses in each part of this book is very catchy and interesting. The lesson in each story questioned my moral principles.
Moreover, I never thought that Empress of All Seasons would be a stand alone book. I was hoping until today that there will be a sequel to this book.
Empress of All Seasons is page-turner, captivating, engaging and again, it gives me animé feels. Highly recommended to those who love animé/manga, fantasy, thrilling and female dominance story.
“If you train on all weapons, you will master none,”
“The rules were simple: Survive the Rooms. Conquer the Seasons. Win the prince.”
“Sometimes words are so much more difficult to form than fists.”
“You can’t possibly understand what it’s like to think you have the world at your feet, only to have it pulled out from under you like some cheap rug.”
“I’m a monster. We’re all monsters. No man, no human will ever love us. That is the curse of the Animal Wife, never to be loved for who we truly are.”
“Success and failure are merely illusions. They are not yours to hold.”
“Funny how love can drive you to hate.”
“Freedom. That is what I want. A life without obligation, without expectation.”
“Through pain you will achieve greatness. Through suffering you will gain honor. Through sacrifice you will rise.”
“A life lived in chains is no life at all.”
“Men are conditioned to take. Women are conditioned to give. Never let a man take anything from you. Your smiles, your humor, your body.”
“Remember, sharks circle only when they smell blood.”
“To serve or not to serve; everyone should have the choice.”
“Some things would rather die than live in chains.”
“People are always so eager to believe what is untrue.”
“Don’t apologize for what you want.”
“Perhaps it is because I am so small; nobody ever believes that I can do big things.”
“Everyone was born with a chain. But some had a shorter leash than others.”
“You should want to be better for yourself, not for someone else.”
“Yes, when you love someone, it is easy to think they are infallible.”
“When so many people say the same thing about you again and again, you begin to believe it is true.”
“It was true she’d succeeded, but not without great loss. Wasn’t that the way it always was, though? To succeed, someone else must fail. To win, someone else must lose.”
“Do not let your fear decide your fate.”
“Do not cling to the hand that holds you down. Let it go.”
“This is true freedom, to love oneself enough not to care what others think.”
“Such a shame. Some females don’t know when to quit; they’ll do anything for a male.”
“We love our brothers. But not every happily-ever-after includes a man.”