I loved this book! Gilded is a fun fantasy based on Korean mythology, and it has a ton of action, death-defying fight scenes, and even a little romance. Protagonist Jae Hwa Lee is not a shrinking violet; she is out there giving back as well as she gets. I think I enjoyed the book so much because Jae Hwa doesn’t wait for a guy to save her (though one does help her throughout her adventures), and because it takes place in South Korea. There aren’t enough books with Asian settings, so I am eager to try each one that I discover. The fact that I had such a great time reading this is like winning the lottery.
After moving to Seoul with her father, Jae Hwa discovers, much to her dismay, that her family is cursed. Descended from Princess Yuhwa, the oldest daughter of each generation has been stalked, wooed, and killed by Haemosu, a Korean demigod. He is still smarting after Princess Yuhwa’s rejection, and he won’t rest until he has his revenge. That, unfortunately for Jae Hwa, means that she and everyone she loves is in grave danger of being abducted by Haemosu and trapped in his otherworldly kingdom.
Jae Hwa is a black belt, as well as a skilled archer. It’s a good thing she is, because she needs every advantage if she’s going to escape from Haemosu’s clutches. She’s also suffering from a lot of pent up angry. Since her mother’s death, things just haven’t gone right for her. Her father works all he time, and how she’s been uprooted from her home and her friends. She doesn’t feel like she fits into her new surroundings, and she just wants to go back home.
Then her grandfather tells her that the only way to save herself and her new friends is to leave the country, so she begs for her father to send her back to the States. He flatly refuses, and tells her that her grandfather has lost his mind and believes in fairy tales ever since the disappearance of his sister, Sun. When she meets her aunt, Eun, her father forbids his sister from discussing the crazy story fabricated by their father about the disappearance. Wow! Talk about being in denial! Jae Hwa’s father would have saved everyone so much heartache if he had just opened his mind – as well as his eyes- and accepted that things just weren’t right with their family.
Of course Eun ignores the order, and begins to teach Jae Hwa how to defend herself from Haemosu. She is warned to never let him touch her, because that will put her under his power. While on a school ski trip, the unthinkable happens, and Jae Hwa is taken by Haemosu to his kingdom. Only her stubbornness saves her from getting stuck there and being Haemosu’s latest trophy bride. As they continue to battle, Jae Hwa’s learns that she has powers of her own, and she is going to go down fighting.
Jae Hwa’s only challenge is not being whisked away by a mythical demigod; she must also train to protect herself, while keeping up with massive amounts of homework. Good luck trying to have normal friendships, too! With spiritual beings constantly tampering with her life, she just doesn’t have time to hang out and go shopping or catch the latest movie releases. And that cute boy in her class? Forget that! How can she possibly concentrate on dating someone when all she wants is to go back to LA? Oh, yeah – and stay alive!
Gilded is like a Korean comic in prose. Jae Hwa faces one challenge after another, all while trying to do what’s best for her family and friends. She wonders if she should just give up and go to Haemosu, but then she realizes that the deadly cycle of the curse will continue, and more helpless girls will meet their doom in Haemosu’s kingdom. I didn’t like her at first, but as she begins to find herself, and feel comfortable in her own skin, she becomes a very likeable young woman. She is tasked with an impossible job, and as Haemosu keeps getting the best of her, she despairs at ever breaking the curse. She makes some really dumb decisions, but with so many lives at stake, it’s easy to forgive her for not always displaying good judgment.
If you enjoy fantasy or stories based on mythology, chances are you will also enjoy Gilded. The setting and unrelenting action scenes made this book for me.
Release date: Mar. 1, 2014
A Korean god. An ancient curse. Can she escape becoming GILDED?
A girl with a black belt and a deadly proclivity with steel-tipped arrows discovers an ancient Korean god has been kidnapping the first-born daughters of her family for generations. And she’s next.
Sixteen-year-old Jae Hwa Lee is a Korean-American girl with a black belt, a deadly proclivity with steel-tipped arrows, and a chip on her shoulder the size of Korea itself. When her widowed dad uproots her to Seoul from her home in L.A., Jae thinks her biggest challenges will be fitting in to a new school and dealing with her dismissive Korean grandfather. Then she discovers that a Korean demi-god has been stealing the soul of the oldest daughter of each generation in her family for centuries. And she’s next.
But that’s not Jae’s only problem.
There’s also Marc. Irresistible and charming, Marc threatens to break the barriers around Jae’s heart. As the two grow closer, Jae must decide if she can trust him. But Marc has a secret of his own — one that could help Jae overturn the curse on her family for good. It turns out that Jae’s been wrong about a lot of things: her grandfather is her greatest ally, even the tough girl can fall in love, and Korea might just be the home she’s always been looking for.
Ebook: ASIN: B00FN2KR3K
“An amazing contemporary fantasy that explores the vast legends of Korea, this richly detailed novel kept me turning the pages well into the night. Jae Hwa starts off as a strong character and ends as a noble one, using both her brains and her brawn to win the day–she’s exactly the kind of girl YA literature needs.”
~from Beth Revis, NY Times Bestselling author of Across the Universe series
“Farley brings South Korea’s fascinating culture and mythology into vivid detail in this shining debut, and Jae is a compelling heroine. An exotic, thrilling read, GILDED had me utterly entranced!”
~from Jessica Khoury, author of ORIGIN and VITRO
CHRISTINA FARLEY, author of Gilded was born and raised in upstate New York. As a child, she loved to explore, which later inspired her to jump on a plane and travel the world. She taught at international schools in Asia for ten years, eight of which were in the mysterious and beautiful city of Seoul, Korea that became the setting of Gilded. Currently she lives in Clermont, FL with her husband and two sons—that is until the travel itch whisks her off to a new unknown. Gilded is her first novel. For more details, check out her website at www.christinafarley.com. Christina holds a master’s degree in education and has taught for eighteen years. She is represented by Jeff Ourvan of Jennifer Lyons Literary.