This is another novel that is inspired by Japan and by yokai. I recently read Shadow of the Fox, and was a bit worried I’d compare Empress of All Seasons to it. Empress is a completely different novel. When Mari is born into the Animal Wives––the beautiful beast yokai ––and is an average beauty, her mother knows that her path in life will need to be different. Instead of training to become a wife who will steal the fortune of her husband and then return to the Animal Wives, Mari’s mother begins to train her to become the greatest Animal Wife of all: The Empress of All Seasons. For every generation, a competition is held to find the next empress of Honoko. And Mari has been training for this her whole life.
There’s two main parts of this novel. The competition to become empress is one of them. Young women from across Honoko come to the palace to compete in seasonal rooms, where perpetual spring, summer, autumn, and winter––and their own dangers––wait for them. The rooms were interesting and I thought it was unique to have the woman fight the season. If they conquer the room, they’re one step closer to becoming empress. Continue reading