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.
Thank you HMH Teen for gifting me a copy of this book, in exchange of an honest review. All opinions are my own.
I rate this book a 3.5 out of 5 Stars
My Review- This book took me a month to read, and I am not quite sure if it was because everything I had going on at the time, or if I just couldn’t get wrapped up in the story. However, by the time I got to the end of the book, I was absolutely pleased that I finished it, instead of DNF’G it like I thought I would. This is not your typical YA read. It was deep in Japanese Folklore, so if you haven’t read anything of that nature, you may find this one a bit hard to follow.
I want to point out something that I loved about this book, many YA fantasy the princess is the prize, her hand in marriage is what is won, or what deals are made of. In this book, the girls fought for the princes hand, which I thought was a nice change of pace. Also, the ending, I love when a book ends like this one does. I do believe there is going to be a line in the sand with this one. Those who loved the ending, (like me) and those who did not. For me this was a very slow building, atmospheric story, but once it got to the climax, it was so addicting, it was intense, with a side of heartbreak. I found myself rooting for Mari, I loved her character, and I couldn’t wait to see where her heart took her. So, while it took me forever to read, I can say I am glad I read this one, and I do hope there is a second book, because I need to see what’s next!