Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Empress of All Seasons” as Want to Read:
Empress of All Seasons
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Empress of All Seasons

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  3,921 ratings  ·  1,046 reviews
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
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published November 6th 2018 by Clarion Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Empress of All Seasons, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Jessie The book ended as if it was a standalone book though I don't know the author's plans.…moreThe book ended as if it was a standalone book though I don't know the author's plans.(less)
Apricity No. It isn't a love triangle. The heroine is in love with only one guy. She turns down the other clearly but gently when he confesses his love to her.…moreNo. It isn't a love triangle. The heroine is in love with only one guy. She turns down the other clearly but gently when he confesses his love to her. They remain good friends.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.57  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,921 ratings  ·  1,046 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Empress of All Seasons

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

“Do not cling to the hand that holds you down”

Empress of All Seasons is an ownvoices Japanese fantasy that was a complete delight to read. I was completely immersed from the very first page, and the last page left me wanting the next book immediately. But this is a tale of family (both found and blood), and honor (both given and earned), and love (unconditionally and conditionally).

The emperor is a human wh
C.G. Drews
This is the kind of story with a world that will totally swallow you whole. In the best possible way! I love it when books promise epic and deliciously complex settings and then deliver. Like, tHANK YOU, I have been waiting to be totally captivated by a story world! This is also based on Japanese mythology and totally immerses you in the world with Japanese legends, weapons, food (um yeah thanks for that I’m hungry) and settings.

➸ Mari being epic with her naginata sword and sighi
may ➹
can someone tell me [inhales] what the HELL just happened

3.5 stars

“But not every happily-ever-after includes a man.”

Empress of All Seasons is set in a Japanese-inspired world where every time the prince is in need of a wife, competitions to the death are held for all women—except yōkai.

Mari, a yōkai, has trained all her life to enter this competition, and refuses to back down until she becomes empress. Taro, the prince, has no plans whatsoever of becoming emperor. And Akira, half-yōk
Chelsea Humphrey
Even though this one didn't fully work for me, I still think it'll be an excellent story for many readers. It's not to say I didn't enjoy it at all, but I think my overall feel was too middle-of-the-road to garner anything higher than a 3 star rating towards my experience. The cover is swoon worthy and the influence of Japanese culture was stellar, and, honest to God, the intro was one of the most well written, engaging, and intriguing beginnings to an entirely unique fantasy idea that I've ever ...more
lily ☁️
“Not everyone is all good or all bad.”

2 1/2 stars. I’m going to use this quote as a starting point, and say: not every book is all good or all bad. Because it perfectly encompasses how torn I feel about Empress of All Seasons.

I think that ultimately, and sadly, I fell in love with the idea of this book based on its synopsis more than I did with the actual book itself.

I loved the idea of Mari setting out to win a competition based on wit, cunning, strength, daring, and confidence, defying exp
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019-reads
“this is true freedom, to love oneself enough not to care what others think.”

empress of all seasons had a very intriguing premise. the concept of having to conquer all the four seasons in their respective rooms was super interesting, but i found the idea and story in general to be poorly executed.

the beginning, most of all, was incredibly slow and it took like 7 chapters until we got to the actual plot. of course, i don’t mind description and useful information to introduce the reader to the
Oct 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean is a young adult fantasy book that is inspired by the author’s own Japanese heritage. I think if you took the Japanese infused story complete with monsters and tossed it into a blender with the Hunger Games and a smidge of the Selection then blend it all up you come up with Empress of All Seasons.

Mari is a Yokai, she looks human but has the ability to transform into a monster. Yokai are feared Honoku so Mari hides who she is along with her small village of wo
Oct 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
This feels like a fairly familiar read as it includes many common book tropes.
One of my least favourite tropes of all time is when the main character is deemed "ugly" until her prince (or in this case samurai) tells her otherwise and this book had plenty of that. In the first few chapters it felt as though we were being constantly reminded that Mari was unattractive which started to grate on me.

That being said it wasn't a bad story overall, the pacing was an issue for me but i thought the setti
April (Aprilius Maximus)
May 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
"Do not let fear decide your fate."

representation: own voices Japanese inspired world and characters, f/f side relationship.

[trigger warnings are listed at the bottom of this review and may contain spoilers]


This was so different than what I was expecting! It had some hunger games vibes and some avatar vibes, while also doing its own thing implementing Japanese folklore. I also loved the feminist themes and the unexpected ending! Didn't see that one coming!

trigger warnings: violence, se
3.5 stars - I was very intrigued by the concept and enjoyed the world building quite a lot so the fact that I am not rating it 4 stars saddens me as well. The female empowerment in this story was great and the writing style was pretty decent too. I liked where the story was going until the ending which I was not satisfied with at all. It was sort of like... that's it? I just feel like there was so much potential in this plotline and where the story could have gone. The ending seemed a bit abrup ...more
Nadhira Satria
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
What the fuck was that? I- we- I’m- bye
Tori (InToriLex)
Nov 26, 2018 rated it really liked it

Content Warning: Graphic Violence, Slavery, Death

This action packed fantasy helped me crawl from the depths of an awful reading slump. Mari is a bad ass protagonist who is a skilled fighter, a yōkai and a caring friend. She sets out to compete to become Empress by facing seasonal rooms meant to break her in mind and body. Mari has to hide her identity from prince Taro and everyone in the competition because all yōkai in the city are forced into slavery. Akira is an outcast who is Mar
Dani ❤️ Perspective of a Writer
Check out more reviews @ Perspective of a Writer...

Each generation, a competition is held to find the next empress of Honoku. The rules are simple. Survive the palace’s enchanted seasonal rooms. 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, she’s a yōkai! As she stru
Lea (drumsofautumn)
Empress Of All Seasons is a very enjoyable ownvoices Japanese Fantasy novel, that stood out through its intricate world building and strong characters.

“Do not let your fear decide your fate.”

After abandoning my ARC for entirely too long, I decided to get the audiobook from the library and consume this book via audio. Hanako Footman's narration was very good but it did give me a little bit of trouble with keeping apart the different points of views. As far as the writing goes, I thoug
Beatrice in Bookland
Sep 18, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
*I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

”The rules were simple: Survive the rooms. Conquer the seasons. Win the prince.”

DNF @42%

What a disappointment. Flat (and not very likeable) characters, way too slow moving plot, basic writing style. I don’t have enough strength (or time to waste) to keep reading, so bye book 👋🏼
Vicky Again
Oct 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
4 stars

#AsianYA is absolutely slaying November and 2018 in general. Because Empress of All Seasons completely blew me away with its lush world and relatable characters and amazing plot.

I thought the world was wonderful--it was lush and well-developed and rich with culture, which I definitely enjoyed. Plus, there were all sorts of magical beings--Mari being one of them--and it really spiced up the plot!

The enslavement of magical beings was handled really well, and it wasn't too dark or gory that
Ellie (faerieontheshelf)
↠ 3.5 stars

Uhhh okay I’m really NOT sure what happened here - I was so so incredibly excited for this one, but it went in a direction I did not expect at the end and pulled down a solid middle and okay-ish beginning. My mind for the last 75% of the book was just filled with question marks.

Honestly, I’m really surprised this novel wasn’t a duology because reading the ending really makes me think it should have been. I would’ve been happy to read a second book, as I loved the world this was set
Daphne (Illumicrate)
Men are conditioned to take. Women are conditioned to give.

This book is absolutely wonderful. I've read a spate of Asian-inspired YA fantasies at the moment and this is my favourite. I loved the rich world that the author built, a Japanese-inspired world where yokai are treated as second class citizens by a hateful human Emperor.

Mari is our protagonist, a yokai Animal Wife, who comes from an all-woman clan where they trick human men into marrying them and make off with their treasure. Mari has
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: teen-sf-fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
There are definitely some good parts about this book. I think a lot of the cultural elements were well represented in this book but I have to say that the ending is what really dropped this book from the 4 start rating I was going to give it to the 3 star rating it received.

One of my biggest gripes in this book was how Taro was portrayed because it was so unjust. He was sympathetic for the youkai and I think he would have stood beside Mari if she had just explained who she was and what had happ
Mogsy (MMOGC)
3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

Here’s another one for fans of Asian-inspired fantasy: Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean is set in a world reminiscent of feudal Japan with historical and supernatural elements. It is also a world where humans and yōkai live side by side—but not as equals. Whether you are a kappa demon or a near human-looking harionago or “hook girl”, all yōkai in Honoku are required to be registered and fitted with an unbreakable iron
rachel ☾
if you prefer plot over characterisation, this will be more your thing

🍂 Rep: #Ownvoices Japanese cast.

🌻 Trigger warnings for 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.
J.A. Ironside
ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review


3.5 stars rounded up


Do you like the anime films of Studio Ghibli? Do you have an appreciation for the aesthetic of Miyazaki? If so you’re going to love the world building in this book. There were times when the descriptions of the places and creatures of this book evoked the visuals of that anime in a visceral way.


The plot follows Mari, a yokai girl (one of the Animal Wives), who has never quite fitted in amongst her people because she
Kathy - Books & Munches
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc-s, read-in-2018
The thing that got me to pick up this book is very simple. Empress of All Seasons is an Japanese-inspired young adult fantasy, written by a Japanese author.

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.

Apart from the own voice-aspect, I absolutely loved the themes Emiko Jean incorporated in this
Lauren Stoolfire
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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 woul
Brooke — brooklynnnnereads
3.5 stars

I decided to pick this up as it was the group book for the Winter Biannual Bibliothon of 2019. Prior to reading this, I had seen it talked about online with fairly good reviews.

I did really enjoy the plot of this novel and although it did somewhat remind me of "The Hunger Games" in some ways (the competition while in the Season rooms), it was exclusively its own in other ways.

I also found the involvement of Japanese mythology extremely interesting. As I have no pre-existing knowledge i
Amy Imogene Reads
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
1.5 stars

A Japanese-inspired fantasy containing a fight-to-the-death competition to be Empress, and I was so bored and irritated with the character arcs that I struggled to finish it.

Concept: ★★★★ 1/2
Writing: ★★★
Character Depth: ★★
Romantic Element:
Pacing: ★★
General Enjoyment: did not enjoy

Empress of All Seasons sounded like a truly thrilling YA fantasy on paper. Mari, a girl who lives in an all-female remote community in the mountains, enters into the national contest—involving a fantastical
Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore
My thanks to NetGalley and Orion Publishing Group for a review copy of this book.

This one is again a young adult fantasy–adventure, set in a world inhabited by humans and by yōkai (beasts, some of whom are part human, or have the ability to transform), the latter being subjugated by humans, kept in collars with all kinds of restrictions. Our heroine Mari, belongs to one group of yōkai, the Animal Wives, who are exceptionally beautiful and have a human form (with the ability to change into beast
♠ TABI⁷ ♠
May 28, 2019 rated it liked it
"You should want to be better for yourself, not for someone else."


All right, after chewing on my thoughts and feelings about this for a while . . . I think I've finally narrowed down the reasons for my annoyance with this 'could-have-been-brilliant' story: It shouldn't have been a standalone. Seriously!! So many things were pushed aside or rushed for the sake of making this a single story, when even if more length had been given to it (please give me excellent bricks okay I love them) there
Actual Rating: 3.5⭐️
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Shadow of the Fox (Shadow of the Fox, #1)
  • Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress, #1)
  • Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars, #1)
  • Unravel the Dusk  (The Blood of Stars, #2)
  • Night of the Dragon (Shadow of the Fox, #3)
  • Wicked Fox (Gumiho, #1)
  • Soul of the Sword (Shadow of the Fox, #2)
  • Six Crimson Cranes (Six Crimson Cranes, #1)
  • Descendant of the Crane
  • Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix (Rise of the Empress, #2)
  • Soul of Cinder (Heart of Thorns, #3)
  • Viper (Isles of Storm and Sorrow #1)
  • Sea Witch (Sea Witch, #1)
  • A Spark of White Fire (The Celestial Trilogy, #1)
  • The Princess and the Fangirl (Once Upon a Con, #2)
  • Child of a Hidden Sea (Hidden Sea Tales, #1)
  • Finale (Caraval, #3)
  • Seven Deadly Shadows
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Emiko Jean is the author of Tokyo Ever After, Empress of all Seasons, and We'll Never be Apart. 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. ...more

Articles featuring this book

Bow down, readers. We've rounded up the most popular royal books in the young adult fandom. How are we qualifying their noble...
275 likes · 39 comments
“Silence is the cousin of invisibility.” 19 likes
“Do not let your fear decide your fate.” 14 likes
More quotes…