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Korean Mythology Retelling | Book Review: Gilded by Christina L. Farley

Gilded: great setting, flat characters. I wanted to like this one so much more than I did.

Book Review: Gilded by Christina L. Farley

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gilded by christina l. farley book review

Title & Author: Gilded (The Gilded Series, Book One) by Christina Farley

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy – Mythology

Release Date: March 1, 2014

Series: Gilded #1

Publisher: Skyscape (Amazon Children’s Publishing)

How I Got the Book: Copy from the blog tour


“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, Haemosu, 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.”

Fairytale Retellings, Korean Style

I love a good retelling! I didn’t realize Gilded was in fact a retelling until I did a bit of Googling. I’m not very familiar with any Korean myths, so it was definitely helpful.

Jae and her dad have recently moved to Seoul, and she’s adjusting to the new city (she was from L.A.) and her new school. I absolutely ADORED the setting of Seoul in the book.The mix of city life and glorious outdoors was refreshing and fun.

After Jae discovers her family history is a little more exciting and magical than she ever could have imagined, that’s when the pace and characters really start to get interesting. The situation described is almost like a Persephone and Hades type situation. I really liked that richness of detail Farley brought to that tale.

I liked that Jae is a fierce heroine. She knows how to fight and use a bow with skill. Although it’s clear right away that Jae is strong and independent, I didn’t seem much else from her.

When I think about describing her personality, I can’t. All I think about is her ability to defend herself and the trouble her family’s in. She lacked a certain depth to me, and I wasn’t able to connect with her character.

Also the love interest was sort of blah to me as well. So with the both of them being so vanilla, their romance was even more vanilla. I mean, when you’re rooting for the bad guy to become the real object of Jae’s affections, you know something’s off. (But seriously, I feel like that could have been great!).

Gilded was a fast read with tons of slightly predictable action. The story offers a different setting for a story we’ve already heard. Although it was enjoyable, it didn’t add anything to what’s been done.

This story would be better suited for those at the young end of the YA age spectrum, or even middle grade readers.


With the stunning backdrop of Seoul, Korea, this book reimagines some new and engaging Korean myths in a modern city with take-charge heroine. I only wished the characters had shone as much as the setting. Gilded is more appropriate for younger readers who haven’t read as much fiction as more experienced readers who have perhaps read this type of tale many times before.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.