Prophecy by Ellen Oh

“Our power lies in the choices we make.”

Prophecy Cover.jpg

Goodreads || B&N || Ellen’s Website

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.

4 STARS

CW: violence, suicide, loss of a loved one, animal death, graphic injury, gore, child death mention

My very first thought on starting Prophecy is that this really reads like an early 2010s YA book, in the very best of ways. With a chosen one of prophecy, looming evil just around the corner, and a girl who can fight better than anyone else, it has all the marks of a book I can just sit and enjoy without twisting myself in knots to get to the core of it. Is it a masterpiece of plotting and rich twists? Maybe not. But did I enjoy the hell out of it?

You bet I did.

Prophecy follows the warrior Kira as her homeland comes under demon threat, and she is tasked with protecting the prince, her cousin, so that he may fulfill the prophecy that predicts the rise of a single king and the corresponding fall of the Demon Lord. She is beloved by Prince Taejo and by her immediate family, but the rest of the kingdom of Hansong and beyond see her as a threat and a curse, a girl in a man’s world, and more importantly, a girl with yellow eyes and superhuman speed and strength. To many, she is seen as a demon, the very thing she fights tooth and nail to protect her kingdom from.

Of course, all this made me a sucker for Kira. Is her story one I feel like I’ve read a thousand times before, where the girl is the unlikely chosen one, and she’s a thousand times better at what she does than anyone else? Yeah, it’s familiar. But I can’t help but love a story about someone who is constantly cast aside choosing to do the right thing, to turn back the forces standing in their way, to rise up and prove to the world that they are incredible in every way. Feels good, feels satisfying.

Plus, I loved that Kira cares so strongly for her family. Her parents and brothers are at the core of her heart, but close by is Prince Taejo, a few years younger than she is and more of a little brother to her than a cousin. This isn’t a story about a girl caught between good and evil and the cute boys on either side. It’s about a girl ready to prove herself, and it’s about a girl who loves her family and her home enough to stand up to forces lesser warriors would flee from. Tbh, this is giving me a craving for more family-centric fantasy stories, so if you have recs, now’s the time to throw them at me.

The setting added another factor. Ellen Oh managed to minimize the boring travel scenes and maximize setting at the same time, putting ancient Korea front and center with a splash of magic. The clothes, the terrain, the fighting styles, and so many other features contribute to a full atmosphere that toes the line between real and fitting of a prophetic legend. Add in a couple of the more magical locations (and I do mean magical as in filled with magic, not so pretty that magical is the only adjective I’ve got in my arsenal), and it all comes together with clarity. And the map in the beginning of the book? Cherry on top, of course! You cannot go wrong with having a map in your book.

And of course, the final thing I especially liked, the thing I can’t not mention? THIS IS A QUEST BOOK, FRIENDS. I am such a sucker for books that center around finding fantastic artifacts or reaching a series of magic locations. Maybe it’s the gremlin in my brain that won’t let me face a boss fight without finishing all the sidequests first, the gremlin that is completely enamored with the power of a good checklist. Maybe it’s something else. But this book (and by extension, this series) is about a search for the artifacts that will allow the Dragon Musado to protect the world from the Demon Lord, and allow the rightful king to take his place on the throne. Sign me up!

Really, the only thing that disappointed me about Prophecy was the relative flatness of the supporting characters. I can live with the predictability of the plot (frankly, it adds to the feeling that this is a legend being spun into existence), but I found characters like Woojin, Jaewon, and sometimes Kira’s brother Kwan to be a bit two-dimensional. There were glimpses of backstory and hints of further development to them, so it’s possible this improves as the series progresses, but within Prophecy, they’re support pillars for Kira that don’t display an extraordinary amount of depth.

I’ll absolutely be reading the rest of the trilogy, I think. With my only frustration lying in underdeveloped side characters, and my attention held so firmly by everything else (ESPECIALLY that little matter of the QUEST), I don’t see any reason I shouldn’t return. Besides, to top it all off, Prophecy was only a little over 300 pages, and an extraordinarily quick, enjoyable read as a result. As much as I love a 500+ page beast, shorter books like this are a joy to curl up with, and they’re far easier to revisit and enjoy in the future.

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