ASIAN-INSPIRED, OWN-VOICE YA FANTASY! ~ Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean


Empress of All SeasonsTITLE: Empress of All Seasons
AUTHOR: Emiko Jean

RELEASED: November 8, 2018
PUBLISHER: Orion Publishing Group

GENRE: YA Fantasy

TRIGGERS: body shaming, slavery, systematic oppression, rape, child abuse, parental abandonment, self-injury, childbirth, forced adoption, death, murder, exile, death by starvation, cyclones, poisoning, explosions, fire, animal attack, animal cruelty, animal death, and bullying. [taken from Rachel’s Goodreads-review]

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.


The thing that got me to pick up this book is very simple. Empress of All Seasons is a Japanese-inspired young adult fantasy, written by a Japanese author. I absolutely love own voice novels [and reviews for that matter] so I couldn’t resist! I do have to apologize though.. Because this is a ridiculously short review due to one thing and one thing alone: I procrastinated on writing it and.. well.. apparently I suck at writing reviews weeks after reading the book. Lesson learned, I swear.

The good

Apart from the own voice-aspect, I absolutely loved the themes Emiko Jean incorporated in this story. Oppression, struggling with your identity and fighting to prove yourself and your worth are the top three subjects handled. All these things are very recognizable to most of us in one way or another, so that definitely added a bit more to my reading experience.

We are our own worst punishers.

The switching of POV’s between Mari, Akira and Taro not only creates a lot of insight in what’s going on but also speeds up the entire story. The fast pace is definitely one of two elements that kept me invested and lost in Empress of All Seasons. The second one being, without a doubt, the descriptive writing!

I see you. I see all that you are. I see all that you are not. And it is enough. You are enough.
The bad

There’s definitely a downfall to the fast pace though.. Because, to me, it felt as if it led to a lack of growth in Mari’s relationships with the other characters. I liked all the characters, but I missed seeing their connections / relationships / friendships grow and that’s such a pity! Especially since it’s one of those things I truly enjoy in any novel.

I am the only person who decides if I am beautiful or not, if I am worthy or unworthy.

Overall I did really enjoy reading this novel, but.. Like I said, it’s been a while since I read it and I have to admit it isn’t all that memorable. Guess that’s one benefit to leaving my review so late, huh? Now I can at least make that conclusion.. [You have no clue how guilty I feel about this generic, boring review, folks..]

How often do you come across a book you really like but end up thinking of as “just a book” after a while? Does it make you change your rating sometimes?
What are some own-voice books you absolutely adore?



All quotes are taken from an unfinished copy and might differ from the finished one.

19 thoughts on “ASIAN-INSPIRED, OWN-VOICE YA FANTASY! ~ Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean

    1. Yea eventually you find a rating that suits it but for me, my rating system
      changes like what I considered to be 3 stars is now 2 stars or something like that.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Yes exactly. Last year I was too afraid to put anything 5 stars but now I feel I’m a bit more freeing with my rating system. Things I rated 4 stars are now either 4.5 or 5 stars and I’m always afraid to put hyped books a low rating but I am more comfortable with that one now.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. If there’s one thing I never struggled with, it’s giving hyped books a lower rating. I definitely struggle with not letting my expectations go through the roof though. Sometimes it’s hard not to expect too much when people keep raving about a book.

      Liked by 1 person

    4. Yea me too. I don’t think that can change. But I learn to not give hyped books such high ratings. It’s just getting caught up in the community gets you like that sometimes.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Nice review. I find quite often that if I wait a while to write a review on a book I thought I loved that it just doesn’t seem as good as it was in the moment. I think for a really good rating the book has to be memorable too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s definitely true. I do feel guilty sometimes though, since I the biggest reason I forget about books is because I read so many others in between my finished reading of it and writing my review.. So I just know I’m partly the blame as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this quote – “I see you. I see all that you are. I see all that you are not. And it is enough. You are enough.” Descriptive writing and well written books in general are what I look for in a good book. Honestly, if it has good writing, no matter the flaws a book I read would still gets at least three stars.
    The lack of growth is unfortunate. If it had a sequel maybe that’s why.
    The trigger warnings are a mile long. I don’t think I’ll read it because of that.
    Your rating system is so cute!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right? It’s one of the sentences that jumped right at me and pretty much screamed at me to be saved, hah. 🙂

      I’m not sure it’ll have a sequel, to be honest. I tried looking it up but couldn’t really find anything conclusive? I wish I knew for sure because the “faults” could definitely be fixed with a second installment.

      Honestly, I do think there are a lot of TW’s as well, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember them myself anymore. I didn’t highlight anything while reading and I do think some of the triggers are present in a very, very small way but.. yeah.. Since I didn’t remember them myself, I didn’t want to risk not mentioning the ones someone else found. At least people are warned in some way now..

      Thank you! ❤


    1. No, it’s definitely not just been you! This might sound weird, but if I constantly see 1-star or 2-star reviews for a book, sometimes it piques my interest more, but if I see tons of 3-star “meh” reviews it’s almost a guarantee I won’t read it 😂

      Liked by 1 person

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