Empress of All Seasons

384p. HMH. Nov. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780544530942.
Gr 8 Up—This fantasy is steeped in Japanese folklore that offers readers an exciting, plot-driven, anime-style tale. Mari, a yõkai, 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 yõkai that enchant human men, marry them, and rob them, then return to their village with their husbands' riches. During the competition, all except yõkai 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 yõkai 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.

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