Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted over at Wishful Endings to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about but haven’t yet read. Most of the time they’re books that have yet to be released, but not always. It’s based on the Waiting on Wednesday meme, which was originally hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.
This week my Can’t-Wait-For Book is The Emperor and the Endless Palace by Justinian Huang!
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Published on: 26th March 2024
“What if I told you that the feeling we call love is actually the feeling of metaphysical recognition, when your soul remembers someone from a previous life?”
In the year 4 BCE, an ambitious courtier is called upon to seduce the young emperor — but quickly discovers they are both ruled by blood, sex and intrigue.
In 1740, a lonely innkeeper agrees to help a mysterious visitor procure a rare medicine, only to unleash an otherworldly terror instead.
And in present-day Los Angeles, a college student meets a beautiful stranger and cannot shake the feeling they’ve met before.
Across these seemingly unrelated timelines woven together only by the twists and turns of fate, two men are reborn, lifetime after lifetime. Within the treacherous walls of an ancient palace and the boundless forests of the Asian wilderness to the heart-pounding cement floors of underground rave scenes, our lovers are inexplicably drawn to each other, constantly tested by the worlds around them.
As their many lives intertwine, they begin to realize the power of their undying love—a power that transcends time itself…but one that might consume them both.
An unpredictable roller coaster of a debut novel, The Emperor and the Endless Palace is a genre-bending romantic thriller that challenges everything we think we know about true love.
If that cover – by artist Yixin Zeng! – doesn’t make you stop and catch your breath, I don’t know what will. But this one already had my interest before the cover reveal – I found it on one of my far-too-many late-night Edelweiss-surfing jaunts, and might have maybe FLAILED A BIT.
Because – everything about this sounds incredible??? I’m fascinated by the concept of reincarnation, but I’ve seen very few examples of it in fiction that I enjoyed, so I’m always looking for more examples in case THIS TIME is the time it’s done right (imo). I don’t think this will be The One, because the idea of souls having gender (and therefore a person being reborn as the same gender every time) seems ridiculous to me, but that doesn’t mean I’m not already HEAVILY INVESTED in a love story that encompasses multiple lifetimes!
That gets my Inner Romantic in a way not many things do, I’ll be honest.
And my Inner Queer Historian was super excited to see it confirmed in an early review that the first lifetime of the story involves Dong Xian, and the cut sleeve. I knew Emperor and the Endless Palace was going to start out in ancient China (maybe they’ll all take place in China??? We shall have to see!) but I didn’t know Huang was going to use actual figures from history, which just delights me for some reason I can’t put my finger on. Because it anchors it a little more in reality? Which makes it a little more special, somehow? That doesn’t make sense, but there you go.
‘Genre-bending’ is also something that gets me excited – we already have reincarnation, of course, but early reviews have mentioned magic (and there’s the ‘otherworldly terror’ mentioned in the blurb, too), so there’s fantastical elements for sure. That plus queerness makes ‘romantic thriller’ sound massively appealing rather than vaguely alarming (the way it might if this were lit fic, for example).
Lastly, I like very much that Huang’s instructions for the cover were apparently ‘lush, psychedelic, and romantic’, because that suggests to me that that’s what we’re going to get from the prose and story. Or at least, I can hope so!
Alas we must wait till March for this one – but you can preorder it in all the usual places now!