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Empress of all seasons

Boston ; New York : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018.
Physical Description:
viii, 375 pages ; 22 cm
During a once-in-a-generation competition to find the new empress, Mari, who hides a terrible secret, Taro, the prince who would denounce the imperial throne, and Akira, a half-human outcast, will decide the fate of Honoku.
Geographic Term:



Call Number
TEEN Jean, E.

On Order



Winter 2018-2019 Kids' Indie Next List

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.

Author Notes

Emiko Jean is the author of the psychological suspense novel We ' ll Never Be Apart . Her second novel, Empress of All Seasons, is inspired by her Japanese heritage. Emiko lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and children. Aside from reading and writing, she loves hiking and travel. Follow her on Twitter: @emikojeanbooks.

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up-This fantasy is steeped in Japanese folklore that offers readers an exciting, plot-driven, anime-style tale. Mari, a yokai, a supernatural monster and spirit, is trained from childhood by her mother to compete to become Empress of Honoku. Mari's clan is the Animal Wives, which consists of cunning, beautiful, and cold yokai that enchant human men, marry them, and rob them, then return to their village with their husbands' riches. During the competition, all except yokai are eligible to compete. As Mari competes to survive the palace's enchanted seasonal winter rooms (winter, spring, summer, and fall) in order to marry the Prince, she struggles to keep her identity a secret as she is torn between duty and love. Jean presents a story written from three points of view: Mari, the main character; Akira, her best friend; and Taro, the future emperor. Snippets of tales from the legends of the gods who created the yokai and humans are interwoven to enrich the events within the narrative. This well-written fantasy will keep teens engaged. VERDICT Recommended for fans of Victoria Aveyard's "Red Queen" series and Cindy Pon's Serpentine. A strong purchase for YA shelves.-Angelina Bair, Willoughby-Eastlake Public Library, OH © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Horn Book Review

When Mari enters the competition to survive the four magical season-themed rooms and marry the emperor-to-be, Prince Taro, she must hide that she is yōkai, one of the supernatural creatures whom the emperor treats as second class. Meanwhile, a yōkai rebellion is brewing. The Japanese-inspired setting of this political fantasy gives depth and texture to the fast-paced action, and the romance will melt hearts. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

A contest to choose the next empress of Honoku has three characters making decisions that will shape the empire and the fate of an enslaved people.The empress of Honoku has always been chosen from among human women, through a contest of surviving the elements and demon yokai of the seasonal rooms of the imperial palace. Mari is from the clan of Animal Wife yokai, strikingly beautiful women who appear human but who also have a monstrous yokai form. They marry human men and abscond with their possessions to support the clan. Because Mari is plain, she is trained in combat from an early age to enter the competition and steal the imperial fortunea huge risk, as many of the contestants die, and if her true identity is discovered, death is certain. Since the death of the empress, yokai have been hunted down, killed, and enslaved with impunity. Akira, son of a ghost-yokai and foreign human father, and in love with Mari, follows her to the city and is recruited into the yokai resistance. Despite his resentment in being a prize, prince Taro also finds himself drawn to Mari. The author uses Japanese folklore elements to effectively craft an engaging story that also questions the power structures of heaven and earth, male and female, human and yokai.A narrative that will engage fans of the genre with a much-needed non-Western setting. (glossary) (Fantasy. 12-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

The story within the pages of this truly magical book reads like a fairy tale and centers around Mari, a member of a remote, all-female village of animal wives yokai (shape-shifting) women who survive by transforming into monsters and stealing men's hearts and treasure. Mari's life plan has always been to win the competition to marry the prince of Honoku and become empress. To do so, she must conquer four enchanted seasonal rooms, while hiding her yokai nature. Jean's incredible world building reflects her Japanese heritage, from the richly described landscapes of the animal wives' home to the city of Honoku to the seasonal rooms. Action, romance, family, and self-discovery are all parts of Mari's journey, and she is not alone in her complexity. Indeed, Prince Taro and members of his family are all intricate characters. One of the most appealing attributes of this novel is its singularity. In a genre that is quick to make trilogies and quartets, this is laudable as a standalone that fully tells its story within a single volume.--Florence Simmons Copyright 2018 Booklist