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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

ARC Review: Prophecy by Ellen Oh

(The Dragon King Chronicles #1)
Jan. 2, 2013
Harper Teen
Format: pb ARC
Source: sent from pub for review
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.

THREE FIVE WORDS: Dragons & Demons & Imoogi, Oh My!

MY REVIEW: I was excited to learn that Ellen Oh's Prophecy is set in an Ancient Korean setting because I happen to be part Korean, my grandma grew up in Seoul and my mother was born there, and I love Korean culture and history. So a Korean infused fantasy sounded just like my kind of thang...and, for the most part, this book was my kind of thing and I definitely enjoyed. But, I didn't end up loving it the way I hoped I would.

Prophecy centers around Kira, a young warrior and Demon Slayer, who is feared and hated by people, and who has been tasked with protecting her young cousin, the prince. When an evil Demon Lord rises to power, Kira, the prince, and a ragtag group of soldiers, monks, and new friends set out for the safety of Kira's uncle's kingdom. And when the monks reveal that the young prince may be the savior talked about in the Dragon King's Prophecy, this group journey to find the lost treasures of the prophecy that could help them defeat the darkness and save the kingdoms. Along the way, Kira must contend with demons, dragons, and imoogi, oh my!

Prophecy is an enjoyable and entertaining fantasy, with a likable heroine and excellent world-building, yet I found some parts of it lacking. I found it to be a quick read and easy to fall into, and it certainly held my interest from beginning to end.

The Ancient Korean fantasy world Oh has crafted is developed very well. This is an intricate world with great historical, political, and cultural layers. Prophecy's world is obviously only based on ancient Korea and not a strict interpretation, but Oh has clearly done her homework and adds a wonderful and rich sense of authenticity to this fantasy world. And the fantasy aspects, while not overly original, are imaginative and exciting and infused with fascinating mythical elements. I'm a sucker for demons and dragons, and this book has both (plus, the wicked cool Korean imoogi!) and I was pleasantly surprised to find that both were not quite like I expected them to be (but in good ways).

The story is a bit predictable and follows a formulaic storyline, but I liked it nonetheless. But the book certainly has its weaknesses. The overall writing isn't bad, but it isn't mesmerizing or unforgettable. The dialogue feels awkward and stilted at times, and I noticed the author uses A LOT of unnecessary exclamation points (!!!). There's less action than I thought there would be, but the fighting that is present is fun and descriptive. As the first book in a series, Prophecy seemed to focus a lot on setting the scene for the entire series and packing in a great deal of need to know info, history, and story building, and I think this left little room for actual action or character development.

The characters are likable enough, but not truly memorable. While I don't dislike any of the characters, I don't feel like I got to know any of them enough to really love them or connect with them. Kira definitely has a lot going for her- she's strong, feisty, brave, funny (she has a few laugh-out-loud lines), and smart- but, she didn't blow me a way as a heroine. There's an inkling of a possible love triangle in future books, but, for the most part, the story is romance lite.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Prophecy didn't wow me as much as I hoped it would, but it did keep me entertained and I did really like its fantasy world. Its conclusion left me satisfied and wanting more. I think it has the potential to get better and better and I look forward to continuing the series. Definitely a worthwhile read!


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Ellen Oh is an adjunct college instructor and former entertainment lawyer who one day picked up a Genghis Khan biography and was never quite the same again. It was the start of an obsessive fascination with ancient Asian history that led to years of researching, which culminated in writing Prophecy, her first novel. She also loves martial arts films, K-pop, K-dramas, and cooking shows, and she thinks the Last Airbender series was the best animated show ever created. Originally from New York City, Ellen lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with her husband and three daughters and is always on the hunt for a decent bagel.

1 comment:

Ashley said...

Great review! I recently read Prophecy too and I had a similar take. There are some really great ideas in the book and the fantasy is neat! For me, the book was lacking in emotion and attachment. Ellen Oh has no problem killing off her characters, which I think is great. But unfortunately I wasn't attached to the characters enough to care when they died!