Title: Gilded (Gilded #1)
Author: Christina L. Farley
Publication Date: March 1, 2014
Synopsis: 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.
Review: I love a good fantasy novel. Especially contemporary fantasy. Through some magic and supernatural beings and a decent back story in, and you'll have me hooked. Gilded has all of that and more, and is probably one of my favorite contemporary fantasy books that I've read. At least in the past several years.
Going in to this book, I was not even close to being familiar with Korean mythology. I have no idea who the gods are or what they do or what other supernatural beings there are, so I was hoping I might learn a little bit and dove in head first. Luckily, Christina included enough information about the important deities that I wasn't completely lost every time Haemosu was mentioned or Jae was whisked away into the realm of the gods. I still wouldn't say I was familiar with Korean mythology, but I do know more than I did before and I also felt compelled to look up more.
Jae was one of those characters that I couldn't decide if I loved or wanted to smack though. Most of the time, she's alright. She's dealing with the loss of a parent, being uprooted to a completely new country (even though she's half Korean, she was raised in the States and is definitely more American than Korean as far as culture goes), and a grandfather who keeps pushing her away and telling her to leave Korea. I'd be pretty upset about all of that if I was her too, so I can't really blame her.
But then there are other times when she does completely stupid things. Her aunt specifically tells her not to let Haemosu touch her... and then she goes and lets him do it anyway. She is perfectly capable of saving herself, but it seems like every time she gets into a pickle, she needs someone else to rescue her. It's frustrating and I would be so annoyed if I was her grandfather or her aunt or her friend.
There is a little bit of romance, and I think it's written very well. Jae and Marc have a sort of chemistry from the very beginning, and I enjoyed watching them become closer and watching Jae decide that it's ok to trust someone else enough to maybe have a real relationship with them. Their romance is important to the story, but it's never the MOST important thing. It comes up, but the other problems always push it to the back when necessary. It isn't overwhelming or creepy or weird, and I really enjoyed how it fit into the story.