I read this as part of the Winter Biannual Bibliothon...well, just after it. I never really manage to get through my TBR for them. However, I'm so glad I read this, even if it was just outside the read-a-thon.
I had no idea what to expect with Empress of all Seasons but even if I had there's no way I would've been right with what happened. This book blew me away. It read more like a myth or folktale, especially considering how the story ended. Every so often, interspersed between chapters, there were mini stories about the gods and goddesses of this world. A small detail like that really helped enhance the book. I also thought the choice of POV's was perfect, a human, half Yokai and Yokai. It meant all bases were covered and provided different social situations for each character. One of my favourite things in a book is seeing how different characters react and interact with each other. This book had so many arcs intertwined, I was a very happy little bunny.
Mari, one of my new favourite characters. I've read series before where the characters have absolutely no growth. Yet, within one novel Mari blossomed like a clawed and fanged butterfly. She was so unsure of herself and her purpose at the start of the novel but by the end, she had grown so much. It was so wonderful to see. The finale of the book was utterly magnificent, it confused me, thrilled me but above all was an ending I had never seen before in any YA. At least that I can recall.
The side characters also had so much growth and change, not always for the best but at least they had an arc. I will admit I liked the fact that some characters wanted to change and not necessarily for the better. It was different. There was so much packed into the book, it did make me sad it was standalone. The final few chapters seemed rather compact in comparison to what it could've been, I would've liked to have seen the events unfold rather than being told about them.
All in all an incredible novel, both for its uniqueness and general wonderfulness.