Prophecy by Ellen Oh
"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 she's also 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's prophecy, but the legendary lost ruby treasure just might be the true key to victory. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, an evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king."- summary from Amazon
First off, before I start my review, let me say that those of you looking at this and thinking "Oh, ANOTHER start to a trilogy.", take that thought back. This book reads like a stand-alone with series potential. I seriously thought it was a stand-alone until I saw the Amazon description (I left out that part because it's a blurb rather than summary) just now while making this post. Also, it makes me happy that there will be two more books because I really enjoyed reading this one.
It's been a while since I've read a fantasy and god, I've missed them! I relished every page of this book. Oh does a really good job setting up this world and taking the reader through it all. There's lot of journeying going on, which should be boring but isn't. Oh breaks up the monotony with revealing secrets, action scenes, and playful banter. The last part is mainly due to Jaewon, a traveler the group picks up while on their journey. I LOVED Jaewon and his interactions with Kira, and I really want a Jaewon of my own. But there's a lot of wit and sarcasm in this book, which made it fun.
The action scenes are handled with a deft hand and I could really see it happening in my head. The climax in particular has a lot going on, and there's a lot of jumping around, but I was never confused and also on the edge of my seat. When there's anything really bad happening in a book, I get a bit irrationally angry. They're only fictional characters, but I get so riled up when evil gains an upper hand (and not just in sci-fi/fantasy, it happens in contemporary too). It's a bit unsettling, but good for the author because it means they've done their job and made their characters seem real. It means I've connected with them in some way and I want them to come out of it all triumphing over evil; I don't like seeing them being picked on.
I also liked that it took place in an Asian-inspired setting. It's great to see non-white characters for once. I also like stuff like anime and manga, so that made it even better. In fact, whenever they mentioned the Seven Kingdoms, I kept thinking she was referencing an anime of the same name, but it turns out the anime is Twelve Kingdoms, not Seven. I was close though!
Overall, get this book now! It's really good and just a fantastic debut. I can't wait to see what adventures Kira and everyone get up to in the next two books! Also, if you're in the VA area, Ellen Oh will be doing a signing this Friday along with Beth Revis, Jodi Meadows, and Victoria Schwab at the Barnes and Noble in Charlottesville. I'll be going and I hope that if you can go, I'll see you there!
FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.