Welcome to the Gilded blog tour! I'm honored to be a part of the tour for this exceptional debut novel. Check out my review, and then enter to win this book!
Gilded by Christina Farley
Book One of the Gilded series
Publication Date: March 1, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC provided for the blog tour
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.
What I Liked:
What a fascinating debut! Upon hearing about this book months ago, I had a feeling I would enjoy it at the very least, and I'm glad I wasn't disappointed! I don't read too many East-Asian-based novels, and I'm trying to change that. I've read Eon and Eona (and loved the duology), but I think that's it? Ellen Oh's Dragon King chronicles is another series I must read. Anyway.
Jae Hwa has no idea that she is a descendant of a princess from an old legend. The immortal that chased (but could not capture) the princess is now after her (Jae Hwa), because she is the oldest female descendant of the princess. But it's not exactly easy to run from an immortal when no one else knows he exists. Her father thinks she (and her grandfather) are insane, and refuse to move back to the United States. But if Jae Hwa doesn't get away from Korea, she will have to stand and fight the immortal - before she herself is taken.
The neat thing is the setting, in my opinion. I really wish we could have been exposed to more of it, but I liked what I read. This book is set almost entirely in Seoul, South Korea. While it wasn't always apparent, that the novel was set in Seoul (sometimes it felt like it could have been set anywhere), it was interesting that the book took place in another country. Most books set in the modern world are in the United States. But this one is in South Korea! Very cool.
Another thing that I was quite impressed with was the legends and folklore. Farley really does her homework, when it comes to all of the Korean legends! I really like how the book is based on the old stories, because the stories themselves are pretty fascinating. The one in particular, about the immortal and the princess, reminded me of Hades and Persephone (to a point). I have a fascination with ancient civilizations and cultures and their mythology - and I love how every culture has their own mythology and folklore, but somehow, many of them connect across cultures.
Jae Hwa is quite the heroine. She is kickbutt - literally. She is really good at archery, and she has a black belt in taekwondo. She doesn't need anyone to take care of her (namely, Marc), but it's hard when an immortal and his minions are chasing after you. Jae Hwa finds it difficult to let others in (like her friend Michelle, or her secret/not-so-secret admirer, Marc), but by the end of the novel, things change. Jae Hwa learns to adapt and to trust. I liked her character development in this book.
The plot of the novel is a bit predictable (see below), but I enjoyed it. My favorite scene was definitely the museum scene - the security officers were so confused! Best scene. The overlaying plots - fending off the immortal, trying to salvage a friendship, keeping Marc at bay (and failing), working around her father - all of them were well-constructed and interesting, even if all were predictable.
The romance is pretty great, in my opinion. While I found Marc to be a very flat character (did I mention that? No? Well. I found Marc to be a very flat character), I liked the progression of the romance between Jae Hwa and Marc. Marc is a good guy, and Jae Hwa is a great person (even if she doesn't trust anyone and refuses to let anyone in).
Overall, this book was great. I enjoyed the story, the romance, the setting, the legends and folklore. I cannot wait to read more in Silvern! And the wait isn't too bad - I believe the sequel is coming out in the fall!
What I Did Not Like:
The only real complaint I have is that this novel is very predictable. I could see this novel basically from cover to cover, once I got a gist of what was going on. It's not hard to see where Farley is going with the plot after a while. There were very few surprises (for me, anyway). I don't know if this is just something than an astute reader would notice, or if it's obvious. But for me, this novel was a bit on the predictable side.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed the ride, and can appreciate the novel for the fiction.
Would I Recommend It:
If you were iffy about this one, or if you already could not wait to read it (but have not yet), then I definitely think you should read it as soon as possible! I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who loves a modern-day novel that is heavily based on fantasy. And for those of you who love a good East Asia culture novel, this is a good one! Although, I haven't read too many of those types of novels - Eon and Eona are the only other novels I can think of. Whatever. You get my point.
4 stars. I really enjoyed this debut novel! I'm looking forward to reading Silvern. What's next in Jae Hwa's journey? I guess I shall have to wait and see.
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About the Author:
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.