Published by Blink on August 14, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Fairy Tales & Folklore, Young Adult
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King Midas once had the ability to turn all he touched into gold. But after his gift—or curse—almost killed his daughter, Midas relinquished The Touch forever. Ten years later, Princess Kora still bears the consequences of her father’s wish: her skin shines golden, rumors follow her everywhere she goes, and she harbors secret powers that are getting harder to hide.
Kora spends her days locked in the palace, concealed behind gloves and veils, trying to ignore the stares and gossip of courtiers. It isn’t until a charming young duke arrives that Kora realizes there may be someone out there who doesn’t fear her or her curse. But their courtship is disrupted when a thief steals precious items from the kingdom, leaving the treasury depleted and King Midas vulnerable. Thanks to her unique ability to sense gold, Kora is the only one who can track the thief down. As she sails off on her quest, Kora learns that not everything is what it seems—not thieves, not pirates, and not even curses. She quickly discovers that gold—and the power it brings—is more dangerous than she’d ever believed.
Midas learned his lesson at a price. What will Kora’s journey cost?
Once upon a time, a little girl helplessly watched as liquid gold spun a web across her tiny frame, racing to wrap her up in an icy cocoon.
And with that opening line, I was captured.
A Touch of Gold takes the myth of Midas and continues it with his daughter’s legacy, Kora, who has to deal with the consequences of Midas’s curse. For those of you who don’t know, King Midas wished for the ability to turn anything he touched into gold, and he ends up regretting the ability after accidentally turning his daughter into gold – essentially killing her. In this story, he begs the god Dionysus to undo the spell, but it only goes partly through. Now, Kora has a sheen of gold on her skin and dangerous skills that keep her locked in her castle, sheltered from the rest of the world. When important items are stolen, however, she must break out of her shell and find a way to recover those items on her own.
While A Touch of Gold uses some familiar fantasy tropes, I still really enjoyed Kora’s growth from sheltered and scared princess to someone who is willing to fight for her kingdom and people. She goes onboard a ship with a suitor who also has his own secrets and sails towards the treasure, which was taken by an evil pirate who collects the skulls of his enemies. He’s pretty one-dimensional, as far as villains go, but he also makes it a challenging journey for the characters. Their route is rife with adventure and betrayal, intrigue and magical beings. It’s a well-organized plot that makes it feel like a lighter fantasy, but overall delivers a fun story.
While Kora was an awesome character to follow, I really enjoyed the twist with the love interest. It’s not a twist that’s new in fantasy, but I honestly didn’t expect it and appreciated how much of a turn it made for a previously mundane romance. While I didn’t get onboard with anything going on in that front, I’m excited to see some of that progression in the next book following this one. I also enjoyed seeing Kora grow into her powers and learn to use it for her advantage instead of fearing it. The brief father-daughter dynamic we got to see in this book was super lovely and heartwarming.
I also love the crew that Kora becomes friends with! They’re very hesitant with her at first – even more so when they find out she’s the daughter of a king they don’t really like – but they grow as a community and come together through shared losses and new foundations of hope. They bring great banter and cunning dialogue to the story.
A Touch of Gold is a lighter fantasy with familiar elements that readers will recognize, but it’s still enjoyable and an adventure to read. Kora displays great character growth and I can’t wait to see the next adventure that Sullivan has in store for us. While the ending of this book was pretty solid, the author leaves a few strings loose for future installments. A spectacularly placed twist in the middle kept me gripping until the end. I would recommend this to fantasy fans that are compelled by the blurb, because it delivers on the epic journey that you think of when you read it. If you’re not quite sold based on the synopsis and what I’ve discussed, it might be a fantasy you don’t need to put at the top of your TBR.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Content/Trigger Warnings: mild violence, blood/gore
Thank you Blink for the review copy!
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