Prophecy by Ellen Oh

Prophecy has, in theory, everything I want in a fantasy: a female warrior protagonist, magic, political intrigue, romance. Unfortunately, the execution falls short.

Kira is a demon fighter, blessed (or cursed) with the ability to see the demons that have killed humans and overtaken their bodies for their own evil ends. To everyone else, though, it just seems like Kira is attacking innocent people, especially since the king, Kira’s uncle, has commanded her to keep the presence of the demons secret.

Due to her talents, Kira’s uncle has tasked her with protecting her twelve year old cousin, Taejo, the heir to the throne, from the demons and others who wish to do him harm. Her job not only puts her in harm’s way from the demons, but also from normal people, who don’t understand when she attacks people who resemble their friends. She also has yellow (or golden, depending on who you ask) eyes, which lead some people to think she is a demon herself. Unfortunately, all of her skills cannot prevent a traitor from striking the kingdom, and soon Kira is on the run with the prince and a few other warriors, hoping to eventually return and rescue their country from the traitor’s clutches – with the help of a mysterious and ancient prophecy.

The book is set in a version of Korea, which is interesting and makes it pretty unique in this aspect. Unfortunately, it still seemed a bit too much like the world of Graceling, a similarity that was enhanced by the plot parallels (warrior girl with strange eyes and special abilities must work for her uncle the king). 

I’m always kind of wary of books with a prophecy as a main plot point. Too often, it’s used as a lazy storytelling technique. Why must our brave heroes embark upon this journey? Because there is a prophecy that decrees it! I found that the prophecy in Prophecy fell into this category. It’s the driving force behind Kira seeking out a certain powerful item, a quest that seems a bit extraneous when the rest of the plot (demons, coups, etc.) is considered. The prophecy also involves a major secret that is rather obvious to the reader but takes ages to be revealed, making much of the book seem tedious.

Much of the story is told in dream/vision sequences, which often allow Kira to gain new information about the prophecy or a demon attack. I really dislike reading dream sequences (even the ones in Harry Potter didn’t make me a fan, and I’m a fan of almost anything Harry Potter). I tend to skip them, sometimes not even bothering to skim the text. I don’t think I’m alone in this.

So there were a few things that I didn’t care for personally, but I also felt that the writing was a bit weak, making this a below average book for most people. It tells the story, sure, but in a bit of a juvenile way, like the book is being written for a middle grade or younger audience (which it isn’t, considering the content and marketing). It couldn’t make up for the flaws in the story, as good writing often can.

I think Prophecy will still circulate among readers hungry for high fantasy, but it won’t be among their favorites.

Review copy received from the publisher. Prophecy will be available January 2.
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterestshare on Tumblr


  1. says

    Even before you made the explicit comparison between this and GRACELING, I was thinking that hmm, Kira sounds an awful like in Katsa, and not just in name. I guess that makes sense, given the success of Kristin Cashore's books, and in a way I'm pleased to think that maybe high fantasy YA à la Cashore could be an oncoming phenomenon (maybe to take some market share from paranormal romance?), but I guess this won't be a breakout book in that direction.

    On a related note, it could just be the professor I had, but I came away from my one and only creative writing class wary of both prophesies and dream sequences, and I'd hope that authors would at most pick one or the other. Both in the same book feels like over-kill.

    Then again, Tamora Pierce's Tortall books use variations of both, and I'll never get tired of those books. Hmm.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *