Title: Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean
Publication: November 6th 2018 by HMH Books for Young Readers
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.
What fascinating about Empress of All Seasons is how can it break the beauty of two worlds colliding and break stereotypes on the YA Fantasy whereas two races couldn’t find a common interest to resolve their misunderstanding. The beauty of misunderstanding and the cruelty of the misplaced trust exudes benevolently on this wonderful Asian novel.
Emiko Jean is pretty direct with her characters. The vulnerability of Mari’s character and undeniably courageous and yet coward Taro infuses with the complication of their worlds makes the book a wonderful piece. I immersed in this book without knowing what lies ahead. It is actually a great book that keeps on teaching life lessons in between the lines. I found myself holding my breath and reading the words over and over again because it was relatable.
I believe that this book is not there for us to just learn but also to contemplate how a perspective and mindset and even feelings could change a person. Emiko has been giving a lot of us an example on her book that it doesn’t take a minute or a second for a love to become a hatred. It doesn’t take a lot of time and effort to turn against someone when it comes to love. Love can do a lot of things. It can affect everything since almost everyone is responding with emotions.
What I liked about this book is that even there are some points that I find the transition is a little bit faster, this book keeps on teaching us a different attitude when we react. I see resilience in this book, I see cowardness that breaks the stereotyping in the toxic masculinity trait, I see fear, regrets, and longing. I see freedom and familial love. I definitely enjoyed this book more than I thought. But above all, I see how this book displays so much feminism.
Above all said, there’s one thing that I would like to discuss. I’m still deciding whether this book is a pro-protagonist book or an anti-heroine book. It is so complicated because if you read this book, you will know where I am coming from. It is such a delightful experience that a book could transform and change the readers feelings and at the same time make it happy with the novel. I just hope that there’s a sequel even if I don’t know there will be.
Verdict: Empress of All Seasons is a brilliant novel that aiming to teach the young readers (and not so young anymore) the normalcy and voices that everyone deserves to hear in 2018. It is not just a novel about love nor a book about perseverance and self-doubt or validation. It is novel that saying to us to stand up, don’t hesitate, and make the most out of what you have. Sometimes, you just need to get out of your comfort zone to grow.
MY RATINGS: 4 STARS.
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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.