Review: Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean

I loved a lot about Empress of All Seasons. It had beautiful worldbuilding and badass characters. However, it let me down a little bit in the end.

Empress of All Seasons CoverEach 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.


I received an eARC of Empress of All Seasons from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Emiko Jean is a beautiful writer. This was my first book of hers and I’ll definitely be picking up future stories. The worldbuilding in Empress of All Seasons was deftly done, spread evenly throughout the story. I loved the inclusion of the world’s myths between chapters. It did a lot to build the world of Honoku without infodumping.

I loved how different all three point of view characters were. I would have enjoyed even more of Akira’s point of view because I really enjoyed him as a character.  He had stronger motivations than Mari did. Taro was so soft, but I wished he’d had more of a spine in the latter half of the novel.

Jean was also very skilled at writing fighting scenes. All of them were a delight to read and I would have loved to see at least one more battle at the end.


Instead of taking us through the process of Mari taking over the kingdom, Jean wrapped the story up tidily in an epilogue. It felt far too easy an ending for me to feel satisfied with the ending.


Overall, I enjoyed it. I think it just needed a touch more of an ending. However, I would still recommend it. You can pick up a copy on Amazon or Indiebound.


Title: Empress of All Seasons

Author: Emiko Jean

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Length: 384 Pages

Release Date: November 6, 2018

Rating: ★★★★ / Four stars

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Representation: Japanese American author, Japanese main character, biracial side character,


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