Saturday, May 21, 2016

Book Review: Prophecy by Ellen Oh

(From Goodreads) The greatest warrior in all of the Seven Kingdoms... is a girl with yellow eyes.

Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope...

Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King Prophecy, but the missing treasure of myth may be the true key. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.

Intrigue and mystery, ancient lore and action-packed fantasy come together in this heart-stopping first book in a trilogy.


I REALLY wanted to love this book. Believe me, I really did. I am so tired of seeing your run of the mill European based fantasies when there are so many other cultures to explore. So when I heard there was a fantasy based in Korea, I was intrigued. 

The only reason I gave this two stars on Goodreads was that. The culture was well researched and the world building was done well. But beyond that, I think the book could have served from more editing. The characters felt flat, stereotypical and annoying. The style felt more lower young adult then what could have benefited from being complex. And a lot of the plot felt unoriginal.

I couldn't get past Kira's yellow eyes and her tiger spirit. I didn't see the point to it other than to make her "seem cool and special". Its like the argument that you shouldn't give your characters purple eyes just to give them purple eyes. It calls up so many tropes and it reminds me of one of the reasons people have given crap to Memoirs of a Geisha because the main character has these vivid blue eyes and ethically, Japanese do not have blue eyes. So I'm wondering if the same can be said for Korea. How many people have yellow eyes? Not many I imagine. I also wasn't sold on everyone's hatred of her. The fact that all the court ladies hated her seemed sterotypical and the king's hatred of her seemed overdone.
The prince really annoyed me. I get that he is a 12-year-old boy who is immature, but he seemed really immature for his age and not the brightest kid there. He got into a lot of dumb situations and Kira let him. She is supposed to be protecting him!

Although it got a little annoying as well, I enjoyed the twist that Kira wasn't immediately in love with her betrothed and that he seemed to be kinda evil too.  His reactions though seemed overdone to me and they got to me after the fifth time of reading how much he was going to enjoy the first night of their wedding.

As I said, the only part of the book that kinda saved it was the world building. The story was well researched and there was a haunting image of Kira watching the court ladies throw themselves from the cliff and watching their robes flutter around them. That was a beautiful, haunting, and disturbing image. But, there were other times when I thought the author tried too hard to explain things that she ended up doing more telling then showing and the writing ended up feeling more kiddish.

I think the author could have made this into a beautiful, well crafted story that really looked into complex issues via the lenses of an unfamiliar culture and time period. Not a lot of people (especially in the U.S) are familiar with Korea's history before the 1950s. And I think this is a good introduction to it, but it could have been so much better. Korean history is fascinating, and the way it interacted with its neighbors, the world, and its own people is something that more people should look into.

That being said, I couldn't finish the book and I'm disappointed. I tried, but the book just isn't there for me yet. If the author ever has the chance to republish it and edit it again, I would definitely love to give it a second shot. I might even read the second or third book to see if it gets better. But this is a rough start and I really wish it hadn't been. 

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