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.
Before starting Empress of all Seasons I hadn’t really heard too much noise about it but after reading the description I immediately requested a copy to review because it sounded like something I would really enjoy reading. It also looked like it was going to be something new for me to read about because I rarely pick up a book about Japanese folklore and with this book also being a fantasy book I was intrigued to see how both themes could be woven together.
Mari in the main character and I absolutely loved her. I found her to be such an amazing character and it’s easy to become invested in her character. I found that her back story made her a little more relatable and overall her character was developed really well over the course of the book. Another character that I really enjoyed reading about was Amiko. Their friendship was something that really stuck with me throughout the book and I loved their little moments together.
I managed to read Empress of all Seasons in just one day. I did put it down a few times but that was mostly to do other things rather than because I was bored. I thought the pacing of the book was spot on, I didn’t find the story to lack and become dull at any point. I thought the story kept its edge throughout and held my interest until the very end. The world building was another aspect of the novel that made it so difficult to put down. I found the world to be really well developed and something new and different.
The author has an amazing way of telling the story and making sure the readers also learn some knowledge to help better understand the story. I thought the themes of the book were really well researched and it the way it came across in the book was easy to understand. Sometimes when the author wants you to learn something about a certain theme they give you all the information in one heavily filled paragraph, but I found I was slowly learning things as I was reading the book so it didn’t feel like I was reading a text book for school.
If I have one complaint about this book that would be it was too small. For a fantasy book and with this type of story I could have easily read another two hundred pages. I wasn’t left feeling like I needed more from the story, I felt like I wanted more, just so I could read more about the world and the characters. But other than that Empress of all Seasons is a solid book and I will be checking out other books by the same author.
If you are looking for an intriguing story and a gripping fantasy book then I would definitely recommend Empress of all Seasons because it will tick all your boxes. The writing and story captures your attention and will have you gripped to every page until the very end of the book. Even though I read this at the very beginning of the year I think I will still remember this book at the very end of the year.
I rate this book 4/5 stars
***I was sent a copy of this book for review. Everything in this review is my own honest opinions.***