Prophecy is the first of three novels in The Dragon King Chronicles by Ellen Oh. The story is set in Korea and it features Kira, the only female warrior in the army and the protector of the prince of Hansong. The royals in other kingdoms are being killed by demons and Kira is forced to flee with the prince to keep him safe because he might be the key to a prophecy that can save the seven kingdoms.
This book has a story that could have been more enjoyable if three main factors had been addressed: the coherence, the amount of telling and the author’s hand.
The book has sequential problems in which sometimes a character is doing something and then the same character is doing something else without following a sequence. Other times, things are not explained so clearly as for the reader to be able to understand what’s going one. One example is a scene where Kira is watching an invasion; she is supposed to be watching from an archway, but this piece of information coupled with the description made the picture a jumble for me and I could not understand what I was supposed to be seeing nor where Kira was standing in relation to the oncoming army. Little mistakes like these are repeated throughout the book and sometimes makes events hard to follow.
The second thing that could have made the story more enjoyable was the amount of telling. I don’t mind if a book has a lot of telling; I’m in it for the story, and as long as I can connect with the characters and the story, I have no problems if the writer is showing, telling or doing a combination of both. However, in Prophecy, the telling goes beyond what I have previously seen in books. The narration just tells you what the characters are feeling (whether it’s sad, happy, or worried), but it doesn’t follow up on the emotion. Deaths occur in the book and the narrator just tells the reader that Kira is sad, but it seems like she forgets about her sadness and continues on with the story until another instance happens that reminds her that she is sad. This is alienating as a reader and retracts from the story’s power.
Lastly, the third thing that could have made this story more enjoyable was the inability to see the author’s hand steering the events of the story. Oh’s hand was visible in several instances of the story. For example, Kira is a very strong young girl; she is a demon slayer and she has the ability to smell and kill demons, an ability no one else has. She is terrific killing demons and other soldiers when it’s appropriate…but when she needs to realize something about herself, or when the plot needs to advance by, for example, having someone kidnapped, she fails in her abilities. The author is constantly guiding the plot even if it defeats the story’s characters and sometimes even logic.
The book, however, has some elements that may draw other readers. The protagonist, Kira, is strong in several instances, though her characterization falls a little flat due to the telling narration employed in the book. The world itself is interesting, featuring picturesque descriptions and fantasy elements not common to western culture, though sometimes it’s confusing. This would have probably been a more enjoyable book for me if it had had a little bit of more work before coming to my hands.
2 out of 5 stars
Mara is the Young Adult Book Reviewer for Girls in Capes. She is working on an MFA in Creative Writing with a concentration in Fiction.