Prophecy by Ellen Oh

ProphecyProphecy by Ellen Oh
Series: The Dragon King Chronicles #1
Published by: HarperTeen on January 2, 2013
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 312
Source: ARC From Publisher
Buy on AmazonBook Details
Rating: ★★

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.

Propecy, Prophecy, Prophecy. How do I review you? As for my rating, I was constantly juggling between 2 stars, 3 stars, then 2.5 stars.. I thought I had settled on 2.5, but then after I wrote my review, I decided to change it to 2. I just think 2 stars better reflects my review and overall feelings.

I think Prophecy fell into my hands at a very inconvenient time. Suddenly, I just wasn’t in the mood for a high fantasy book. In the two weeks before I started this book, I had been reading a lot of new adult contemporary romances. Maybe I was just out of my high fantasy zone… Whatever it was, I just couldn’t connect with Prophecy.

For someone who wasn’t in the mood for high fantasy, Prophecy was very intimidating. I was totally overwhelmed by the sheer amount of historical Korean information, locations on the map (I kept having to reference it over and over again), and the names of characters. Note to self: Shin Bo Hyun and Lord Shin are two different people. Overall, it was just a little hectic!

The pacing in Prophecy was a little odd. The chapters were super short, which resulted in quick, brief, vague scenes. There wasn’t that much detail and I think the short scenes made the book a little choppy. We were constantly jumping from one place to another, so I had a hard time getting fully immersed. Sometimes days or even weeks passed by in only a few sentences. But I’m not even sure about that, because it was just very unclear how much time was going by! By the end of the book, I literally felt like the whole story was one very long day. But in reality, I’m pretty sure it was over the span of at least one month.

The romance in Prophecy kind of confused me. The story starts out with Kira being told that she has to marry a certain guy (basically an arranged marriage). She hates the idea and has no interest in getting married. Then later on, she gets meets a new guy: Jaewon. When Jaewon was introduced, I imagined Kira slowly falling in love with him and then ending up with him instead of with her betrothed. But Kira’s relationship with Jaewon didn’t develop at all. Jaewon was oddly obsessed with Kira (see quote below), but their relationship never veered out of the friend zone. I was left confused by it. Is it supposed to be the beginning of a possible-future-romantic-relationship? Or are they actually just friends? I can’t even tell.

“I will always do whatever you ask.”
Jaewon, Page 192, ARC of Prophecy

Woah, where is this unyielding dedication coming from, Jaewon??
(He said this like 3 conversations after they first met)

So it’s safe to report that there is zero romance in Prophecy. Some people might find the lack of romance refreshing, but I love having romance in all books I read so I was a bit disappointed.

Prophecy wasn’t a bad book, so I’m sure there will be some people out there who love it, but it just wasn’t for me. I felt distanced from the characters and the story. I like books that are leaking with emotion; those are the ones that really suck me in, latch onto me, and shake me to my core. While reading Prophecy I constantly felt distanced. There wasn’t enough emotion to pull me in, so I didn’t get very attached to the characters or invested in the story.

One thing I applaud Ellen Oh for is for being realistic. She didn’t write Prophecy as a fairy tale. People die. Families get torn apart. Prophecy is about war and Ellen Oh isn’t afraid to write about the harsh realities of it. In many fantasy books, family members and friends of the main character seem to magically survive the toughest situations. Not in Prophecy! She was killing people off from page one (almost :P).

In a way that’s disappointing, because all the deaths in the book could have been a great platform for a heartbreaking story of revenge, honour, and heroism, but the author didn’t really take advantage of that. The intensity and emotion was lacking. I didn’t care when the people died. I wasn’t distraught at the way people treated Kira with hostility. I was simply indifferent.

There are some interesting ideas in Prophecy. The lore and mythology are pretty cool. My favourite part of the book was the questing and the introduction of fantastical/mythological beings. But at the end of the day, I just couldn’t connect. It wasn’t for me. Something another reviewer said really resonates with me:

It wasn’t that I disliked this, or that there was poor writing, it just never won me over.
Andi Ruggles (Rywn)

But if you’re really into high fantasy stories—especially in a Korean setting—then I would still encourage you to give it a try!

The Verdict


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  1. Ooh bugger, I had high hopes for this one – no romance at all? Not for me then, I need romance 😉 it also sounds like it has a few too many elements I wouldn’t enjoy..

    Thankyou for sharing your wonderful, honest review Ashley 🙂 I might take a pass on this one.

    Sharon recently posted: Review: Hopeless by Colleen Hoover
    1. Yeah I need romance too. 🙁 I know some people like it when plot dominates a book and there’s no romance, but I’m the kind of girl who always needs a bit of romance in all her books!

  2. I felt really similar to you when I finished it– just, well, meh. I wasn’t a fan, so I wrote my review to reflect that, and I WISH that I could have loved it. That it could have been life changing, and that I just…I just really wish that I had loved it. My review probably sounds all sad and wishy-washy, LOL. But I didn’t love it.

    I thought that the characters needed a lot more development, that the romance needed to be more (I’m a romance kind of girl too. ;)), and that the action should have been better. And I’m glad to know that I wasn’t the only person that thought the timeframe was screwy, LOL. Anywho, fabulous review! I’m sorry that you didn’t like it. 🙁

    Megan@The Book Babe

    Megan@The Book Babe recently posted: Heartbreak River by Tricia Mills
    1. I wish I could have loved it too! I wanted to sooo much! I completely agree with you about the characters and the romance. I just didn’t feel for any of the characters. I really tried to get into them and love them, but it didn’t happen.

      Bummer. 🙁

      Also it’s kind of comforting to know that you had some problems with the timeframe too! Nice to know it’s not just me LOL! Sometimes when I have problems like that I worry that I’m just a crap reader and missed something obvious!

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  3. When first saw this post, I was so drawn to the book by its cover (I can’t help it, good covers just win me over everytime). But then, I started reading the review and I was dissapointed. And finally, the word Korean came up *-*
    It’s a shame you didn’t like it though. I love Asian culture and I haven’t really read any book set in Asia so I’m a little intrigued by this book.

    I might give it a try later on in the year when my TBR pile has slimmed down a bit.

    1. You should definitely give it a try! I have read a couple 4 and 5 star reviews for this book, so maybe you’ll end up loving it!

    1. Yeah, it’s a bummer! And Ellen Oh is suuuch a sweetheart. I wnated to love her book so much. 🙁

  4. I was really excited to read this novel, looks like it’s a total let-downer 🙁 I’ve always been a fan of high fantasy asian novels (like Eon *woots*), but one that lacks romance is just not my cup of tea >:(

    Great honest review, Ashley!

    Sel recently posted: Review: Tiger Lily
  5. I adore the concept of a fantasy world set in ancient Korea, but alas, I’ve seen too many negative reviews to anticipate this novel anymore. It sounds a bit like Eon/Eona by Alison Goodman, which is also an Asian fantasy book, but based on your review, much, much better than this. Anyhow, I recommend it if you haven’t read it already, Ashley. 🙂 Brilliant review!

    Leanne recently posted: This Week's Goodies! (#12)
    1. Thank you for the suggestion Leanne! I haven’t read Eon but I do have a copy sitting on my shelf! One question: does it have a romance in it? I’ll still read it even if it doesn’t, but I’d like to know before hand. 🙂 But I’ve heard so many great things about Eon! I think the only reason I haven’t read it yet is because I’ve been intimidated by the length!

      1. You’re welcome! 🙂 Eon is more focused on magic, action, and female empowerment with very little romance, however, Eona the sequel is apparently more romance centered. 🙂 I still haven’t read the latter yet but I plan to soon! Oh, and it’s quite engaging too so don’t worry too much about the length, haha. 😉

        Leanne recently posted: This Week's Goodies! (#12)
  6. OKay, yeah, so not a high fantasy person so this is a no go for me. I so get about changing the rating while you write the review. I do that often. When I get everythng down, I can better determine how much I really liked or hated it. I also like to give myself about a week after finishing a book before I write a review because often I either realize I liked it more or less than I first thought. It’s like my book high from finishing a book jumbles up my feelings. I need time to think about it.

    Jennifer Bielman recently posted: Review: Savagery by Emma MacKenzie
    1. I feel like if I took a week to think everything over, I would end up forgetting details or get things mixed up with the next book I start reading! 😀 I usually can’t take more than 24 hours or I start to panic! LOL!

  7. Yowch. I’ve heard really bad things about this one, and just THIS close to requesting it from the publishers and on Edelweiss until reviews started pouring in. This would definitely not be a book I’d like. And I feel like the odd character development – or lack thereof – and telling and not showing writing mentioned in other reviews would drive me up a wall, as would other massive plot holes mentioned in other reviews, such as the fact that the population isn’t aware of the existence of demons, yet they openly call Kira the Demon Hunter, or something similar to that. Um, okay…? Great review, Ashley! Unless I somehow end up with an unwanted copy of this, I’ll definitely be staying away.

    1. Well, if I remember rightly, the general population does know that demons exist, but they don’t know that they’re currently in the city. But yeah, there are quite a few problems with the book. 🙁 I thought I was going to love it!

  8. I’m glad to see I wasn’t alone in feeling the disconnect! There was just never a moment where I felt like I actually cared about the characters – occasionally I would get mad on Kira’s behalf, but since she never really did anything about it, eventually I gave up on that too. I WANTED to care, I just never could.

    Rywn recently posted: Prophecy by Ellen Oh

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