Christina Farley, Gilded
I picked up this book a couple of months ago (part of the Amazon First program) and, now that I'm done frantically trying to finish the Whitney Award books, I finally had time to read it.
Jae Hwa is a sixteen-year-old Korean American girl living in Seoul, Korea, for the first time as her father has transferred to a new position and both he and Jae are still recovering from the death of her mother. But not long into their stay, strange things begin happening. Jae sees creatures out of Korean folklore, and her grandfather hints at a centuries-old curse plaguing her family: namely, as revenge for his rejection by Princess Juwha, the demon Haemosu has been stealing away the oldest young woman in each generation.
This just happens to be Jae. And despite her martial arts skills, this is one battle that Jae can't win alone.
I have really mixed feelings about this book. I love mythologically-based fantasy (both historical and contemporary), and Farley includes some lovely, rich details of Korean mythology. The setting, too, was wonderful: nice details and evocative images. But I struggled to warm to Jae, who often does stupid and impetuous things just because she can (and I know that lots of teenagers are impetuous, but Jae seems dangerously so sometimes). And, as other reviewers have pointed out, it seems a little problematic that in a story centered around Korean mythology and culture, Jae's love interest is an American guy, and his American parents are often the key to her solving the mysteries that face her.
That said, I'm not sorry I read it--I learned a lot of cool stuff about Korean mythology and the plot moved quickly enough that I was never bored (although annoyed, sometimes, yes).