Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Review: Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean

Series: Empress of All Seasons #1
Publication Date: November 6th 2018
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA, Fantasy 
Amazon ~ Goodreads ~ TBD

Synopsis: 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.

My Rating
3/5 stars

My Review
Empress of All Seasons is a beautiful tale of Japanese heritage. I was extremely excited for this story and while I loved most of it, it definitely had a few setbacks.

Mari is an Animal Wife, a yokai that transforms into a horrible monster and can trick men easily. Animal Wives are known for their beauty, but all Mari has heard her entire life is that she is plain. Knowing her fate, Mari chose to train to become an empress, but in order to do so she must first pass a competition where fierce female warriors are sent into four rooms where they have to battle against the elements of Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring to prove that they are the equal match for the prince and deserve the honour of being Empress. The problem is that the emperor despises all yokai and demands all yokai in the palace to be enslaved by collars that cause immense pain and drain their powers. Mari must hide her true nature while winning the trust of the prince, and becoming the empress of all seasons. 

I'm not going to lie, I was a bit dissapointed in the direction this story went. In the first 3/4 of the book, I fell in love with Mari and the world that the author created. The story is very unique and quite interesting. Not only do you get a strong female character but also a very creative fantasy world. The writing, and the characters were perfect. At first I thought I was going to hate the competition part of the story, as I believed that it would be another tale where women have to fight against other women, but one of the rules were that the contestants couldn't harm one another, and we actually get to see Mari make friends and work with other contestants to get ahead. I was so incredibly impressed by this story I thought this was going to be a 5 star read for sure.

In the last quarter of the book, the story took a huge turn. It went from being a beautiful tale to a cliche story that made you roll your eyes because you knew exactly what was going to happen next. The ending felt incredibly rushed. There were parts of the story where we skipped a day or two in the timeline because the characters were "setting up." It felt like an essay you would write during an exam where you write an amazing first half and then once the teacher yells that time is almost up you write whatever comes to mind and don't really plan anything anymore. The last quarter was an absolute mess, that didn't fit the style of the beauty of the beginning. It really turned the book off for me.

I will definitely continue to read this series because I do love Mari and the world that the author created, but I sure hope that the author takes her time and slows things down to go back to the beautiful story as was in the first part of the novel.

Happy Reading,
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