Book Reviews, Diverse Reads, Mythology, Paranormal

Essential Korean Love Interest Left Out…

An Asian read! Plus it is Korean, YAY…! Totally worth reading if you love mythology in a modern setting… come see what I mean… (Plus I’m test driving a new review format…let me know what you think!)



Gilded series #1
by Christina Farley
Published March 1st 2014
by Skyscape

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Jae-hwa has a black belt and a deadly skill with arrows. Returning to South Korea after 16 years in L.A. she meets her widowed dad’s father for the first time and he wants her to return to America. STAT. Then she learns about the family’s curse and it all becomes much clearer, especially after she meets Korean demi-god, Haemosu, who has been stealing the soul of the oldest daughter of each generation for centuries. And now his sight is set on her…

My opinion Splat Logo

Gah! That title and cover… I picked this up spur of the moment due to my instincts and NOT due to the underwhelming cover or the horrid little title! Just a more modern title would benefit this book tremendously… and a watercolor like cover with some mythological elements. Haechi for instance would be SOO great on the cover or a girl in traditional dress with a bow! The bird was not a huge part of the story nor does it help one to imagine what it looks like. Gilded wasn’t an off title so much as being totally unhelpful as to what the story is about (hint, hint the point of titles!)

Nor does the title or cover really intrigue you… BUT…

Korean gods, magic and location…

KOREAN MYTHOLOGY!!! Korean culture, Korean setting… the only thing missing is a Korean love interest! Very creative in the use of Korean mythology in present day events! I loved the varied demi-gods that showed up and how the curse on the family would effect each generation. Korean raised in America with Korean values but the American way of life! Love that! I really liked how Jae-hwa was “gilded” and even using metamorphosis for the magic. The end is all tied up in the mythology and the locations of Korea and that is really cool! Even a ferry is used which is a way Koreans get around the waterways there.

The author is NOT Korean but she lived in Korea teaching at an international school… I thought it an excellent thing that she wrote what she knew from first hand experience rather than try to mimic life in Korea as a Korean. This is what it means to write what you know… and I totally bought the high school parts of the book!

I do wish that a legitimate Korean was a major player in the book. For example, Marc could have been 100% Korean but been born in another country (not America) hence he knows all sorts of languages and he’s at the international school because they are more liberal with their absence policy. He could have taken her around Seoul and fallen in love exploring the city! That would have been more fun… and we could have visited places from the POV of a newbie!

Fairy tale driven plot…

For all the contrivance riddled through the plot the actual individual events were quite well thought out, especially when dealing with the mythology. Paired with a nice balance between the international school scenes and the Korean fairy tale scenes and the pacing worked to keep me reading! I don’t want to give away the best part of the book but the events use the world building in the best possible way!

I puzzled about this girl’s choices… not ever calling the lion guardian, not showing her dad the bracelet, never seeing her g-pa. The problem is that this conflict should have happened early in the book and instead happened at the 70% mark. Basically there was a saving of ideas until the end which adds up to limited development…

The writing is basic but easy to read. It’s not bad but doesn’t blow me away. I would really have liked to read Marc’s POV if he were Korean. Coming from two different directions and having to develop plot for Marc’s POV would have immeasurably improved the development of the story as a whole. As it is the style smacks of those high school reads that are a tad generic. That includes Jae-hwa going back & forth about being with Marc. Her narrative was just plain whiny! She can be as badass as she wants but if she is constantly complaining it is hard to deal with her…

Unfortunately, diverse but not diverse…

I really liked her relationship with Michelle… as the new girl I thought this friendship could have been explored more! No mean girl Min needed… (More contrived conflict.) I wanted more relationship with Komo and her grandfather… here are two people who believe her and that is only minutely developed… And GAH! Her relationship with her father was terrible!! I wanted Haemosu to kill him off so that she would be forced into her grandfather’s hands… These all became lost opportunities to add REAL CONFLICT!

Marc, oh Marc… what a misstep you were!! I wanted to like you but as a lover of all things Korean I could not get behind a love interest that is a white wash. I understand why he was and why his back history was setup the way it was but no, there is no excuse not to add some lovely pretty Koreanism to the horrible villain Koreanism!!

As a Reader…

I wanted to LOVE THIS BOOK! The storytelling quality just got in the way. There is creativity and knowledge working in the story but it needed some interpersonal development added in too! Relationships make a character feel real and worth following… if these are shallow the entire story becomes shallow. We read to become immersed in the world and the actions of the character… there must be a genuine sincerity to the character for us to take the plunge.

You May Enjoy This if you go Gaga over BannerMythology! Diversity! Family Curses! Strong Female Archetypes! High School Setting!

My thoughts as a writer Typewriter Pink Purple Logo

The story wasn’t well executed. You have to have good storycraft for foreshadowing to work well and for motivations to be believed… and you’ve got to have reasons why things happen and happen that particular way otherwise you are pulled out of the story. There was major contrivance at times just to add conflict. Jae-hwa acts dim even though she’s a smart girl just to have her make a stupid choice! And even though she has a good relationship with her father she never tells him anything even though her life is in danger. Storycraft is the underpinning of a good premise and needs to be present in order for the reader not to jerk out of the story.


Cover & Title>⭐⭐
Premise & World Building>⭐⭐⭐⭐
Plot & Pacing>⭐⭐⭐⭐
Development & Storycraft>⭐⭐
Writing & Narrative>⭐⭐⭐

Star Rating wordsRating Star 7Rating Star 6Rating Star 4

BOTTOM LINE: Happy I read it due to the Korean mythology and the fascinating magic system… will read the next book to see if the storycraft improves…


16 thoughts on “Essential Korean Love Interest Left Out…”

  1. Wow, this is one mythos that I’ve never read about. I’d be totally down to read a solid good book on it. I actually have a sudden urge to do some little research on it just for fun! Really neat review format by the way. This structure definitely forces you to organize your thoughts into big themes. I like it! 😉 As for the story… Well.. Would’ve been nice if the author had pushed it a bit further and really created a unique experience with real conflict and better character relationships! Great review, Dani! 😀

    1. If you find a great Korean mythos book to read then let me know! I’ve looked around goodreads some and haven’t found many YA Korean anyway… so I’d be down to hit an adult book perhaps!

      Thanks for the feedback! I so appreciate it… I’m still working on my setup because this is a little strict… but it does force me to dig deep… so I don’t want to lose that… change is a slow beast… I wish it would get out of my way sometimes, lol…

      YA is a minefield of great ideas that can blow up in one’s face, lol…

  2. I love mythology but I’ve never actually read anything regarding Korean mythology… Now I will absolutely want to find out more about it!
    It’s always sad when publishers don’t really take the story into account when creating the cover… Bad title and bad graphics are enough to turn any reader away, no matter how great the content inside. The opposite happens too, of course, which is just a shame!
    I’m glad the author decided to go with her experience rather than fabricate someone else’s. Too bad about the lack of 100% Korean characters but oh well, better than nothing. It’s also super disappointing when the premise is really good, yet the author is unable to bring it to life properly. Whiny characters and infantile writing can kill any book.
    I think you should go with the review format you feel most comfortable with and the one that works best for you, because personally I like both 🙂
    Great review, Dani!

    1. Thanks Sophie!! ❤ I'm working on my format… I do tend to complicate things, lol… Did you like the If you go gaga over… line?

      If you find any Korean influenced books you love then I'd love to read/hear about it because I'm on the lookout and there are some contemporary ones that are great but I want more mythology or fantasy based ones too! Bad covers kill books, though I agree the opposite is true too, but better a better cover than a yucky cover? And diversity is great in any quantity! I appreciate your thoughts…

      1. Yes, I did! I think it gets people’s attention and will make them easily intrigued 🙂
        I’ll let you know! I’ve seen tons of contemporary Asian books around lately, but I’m not sure how many are Korean. Still, this is the first fantasy one I found, sadly.

  3. I really love this new format. I really like the headers and use of color to call them out. I don’t know if I’m sold on the format of the headers. The words for each header didn’t really draw me in any more or less than the previous formatting with the bold. I think you have some opportunity for improvement there; it could be extraordinarily effective!

    I *adore* the “You may enjoy this if you go gaga over” section! It’s easy to get a summary of what wow’d you there. It also is ripe for recommending reads in future posts. I also LOVE the breakdown of your “My Thoughts as a Writer” concepts with the stars. I know a lot of people think star ratings are problematic, but as someone learning to be a more critical reader, this really helps me realign. I just want to know if these are out of 5-star ratings or not. Also, I’d love to see a post where you break down what each category means to you in terms of what you are looking for. I also feel like you could put together a cute graphic like the “You May Enjoy This if you Go Gaga Over..” header for the Bottom Line. You know, as long as we are talking about it…

    ANYWHO. The book! I am sooooo into eastern religion/philosophy/mythology in my fiction right now. It’s so refreshing and new compared to all the Euro-centric books I’ve been reading my whole life. This sounds right up my alley! It’s a shame the story wasn’t well executed– but you think this author has room for improvement in future novels?

    1. OMG!! THANK YOU SO MUCH JACKIE!! This is exactly the kind of feedback I’m looking for… I agree about the headers… I had formatted it another way with the sections about each star rating but it was too regimented…. so I do need to think about it more.

      I’m SOO GLAD you liked the gaga line… it is like a recommendation thing and I need a way to track that better… my goodreads shelves are a mess! I’m still working on the star ratings breakdown… Because you’re right I need to it be about me as a writer and not a reader but I also want readers to get something out of it and the balance is skewed right now. And you’re right its not clear what I want from each category… I did try to add an empty star to the less than 5 star ratings but no go… so I may have to create my own graphics rather than use emoticons because nothing looked good.

      Good to know about bottom line… I think I may be growing out of that and my use My Feelings? Or something like that? Maybe with a reversed word bar? You gave me so many ideas, lol! Thank you!!! ❤ ❤ ❤

      I think the author's next book in the series may be much better actually… I hope she keeps writing Korean based stories at least because she has the knowledge. If you simply want some cool mythology this is an excellent read for that even if 3 stars…

      (On a side note my app got wrecked by an update download and has been freezing so I ignored my comments over the weekend and yesterday… normally I read and comment on my mini not my computer… It has totally thrown off my whole life!! I finally got on my computer so sorry this took me way longer to comment back on… )

      1. Any time. Feedback is soooo important. Far too many people worry about hurting feelings or whatnot. My thought is that if people are asking for feedback, GIVE IT TO THEM. They are prepared for it. Don’t just say, “Oh wow, this looks great!” – that isn’t valuable. Be specific. 😉 So yes. Any time you want feedback, let me know. 😀

        I look forward to watching your posts develop and grow!

        Asian mythology is a HUGE weakness of mine, so this is definitely on my TBR. I will wait for the rest of the series before I commit. It’s just so different from what I grew up with, and there are so many great morals and unique magic. I love it.

        UGH. The WordPress app totally hates me. I completely understand. But, I bet your reply is SUPER LONG because you are using a computer. 😉 Never apologize for how long it takes you to get back to me. It’s just a comment. I can wait. 😉

  4. Ooooh how have I not heard about this book before? Books based off of Korean mythology are practically *impossible* to come by. Seriously. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever read a Korea-inspired fantasy book. :0

    Anyways, I’m glad you enjoyed it, although it’s too bad that the romance wasn’t for you! (That cover really does look cheesy, though…)

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