Book review by
Julie A. Carlson, Common Sense Media
Gilded Book Poster Image
Adventurous fantasy weaves Korean mythology, martial arts.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers will learn about modern and historical Korean culture, Seoul and its surrounding areas, and Korean words and their meanings. A guide is included at the back of the book. They'll also learn about tae kwon do, archery, ancient Korean myths, legends, and fairy tales and that the term "gilded" means "to be enslaved."

Positive Messages

Strong messages about friendship, being honest and forthright, helping others, putting others before yourself, antibullying, sticking to your beliefs, standing up for yourself, the importance of love and family, doing well in school, and being careful of your surroundings. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jae Hwa is one tough cookie. She's fiercely independent and a strong, likable heroine with a spunky personality. Jae values friendship and keeping her friends and family out of harm's way. She selflessly puts herself into dangerous situations out of concern for those she loves. She was close to her mother who died and misses her every day. Jae knows martial arts and gains more of an interest in Korean culture and her heritage as the story progresses. She also wants to do well in school. Other solid role models are Jae's crush, Marc Grayson, a studious boy who's kind, caring, and loyal and who wants to protect her. Her other friends also are dedicated to their studies and like Jae as a friend. Jae also has strong parental role models in her father, grandfather, and aunt. 


Hand-to-hand combat, martial-arts combat such as tae kwon do, archery (using it to hit targets and monsters), wild beasts attacking humans, monsters attacking humans and vice versa. 


Kissing, hugging, and tender caressing, such as on the face. 




Buying drinks and desserts at Coffee Bean. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Gilded is Christina Farley's debut novel and the first book in the Gilded series. It's about a Korean-American teen who lives with her father in Seoul, South Korea. She battles an evil demigod, Haemosu, who wants to take her soul and make her his princess. The legend of Haemosu is an actual Korean myth. Gilded has some violence: Jae battling Haemosu and other Korean mythical beings, and monsters using tae kwon do and archery. There's mild romance with a couple of kissing scenes and hugging. The only strong language is "crap." 

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What's the story?

GILDED is about a Korean-American teen, Jae Hwa Lee, who moves from L.A. to Seoul with her dad. She doesn't want to live there. She wants to stay in L.A. where she has friends and memories of her deceased mother. Jae also doesn't get along with her grandfather, or so she thinks. Once Jae discovers why her grandfather wants her to leave Seoul, her world turns upside down. Jae is connected to an old myth -- the legend of Princess Yuhwa, who escaped the evil clutches of the demigod Haemosu. He's said to take the souls of eldest living daughters, and Jae's next on his list. She must put her tae kwon do and archery skills to the test to defeat him, protect her family and friends ... and stay alive.

Is it any good?

Gilded is an extremely fun book that offers the perspective of a Korean-American teen living in a foreign country. It's also a twist on standard paranormal books, with new monsters and mythical beings. Jae Hwa is a great role model -- a strong fighter who's still unsure she can defeat Haemosu. She's real and believable. Gilded also has interesting locales, a romance, side characters, and Korean myth and history. After finishing the first book, readers will be eager to dive into the second one, Silvern

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the Korean myths and legends explored in Gilded. Does the novel make you want to learn more about the legend of the sun deity Haemosu and Princess Yuhwa?

  • Why do you think the author, a non-Korean, wrote about a Korean-American girl in Seoul?

  • Dramas in Korea are extremely popular. A K-drama was made about the legend of archer and warrior Jumong, the son of Haemosu and Yuhwa. "Jumong" was rated the highest drama of 2006. It's available online via DramaFever and Viki. Although fictionalized for television, it's worth checking out to learn more about Korean mythology and history.


Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy and romance

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