Published by Indie/Self Published
Released on February 2, 2016
Source: Free Book
It’s Pacific Asian Heritage month so this variation on a few mystical Korean folktales grabbed my attention. The decision was all over when I spotted the dragon and the phantom references.
Eun Na and the Phantom is inspired by Korean folklore and set in a poor mountain forest village during Korea’s Joseon Dynasty (14th to 19th centures). It reads like a fairytale much of the time with the occasional modern word poking out, but also sprinkled with a few Korean words and cultural references as well.
Eun Na the logger’s daughter and Tae Kyung the Phantom are the main couple, but there is a secondary main couple, Miyu the shamanness and Min Jae the son of the local lord, Lord Park.
Long ago, Tae’s father was so filled with greed that he called down a curse on his own son to gain wealth and power. Tae’s soul cursing him to spend eternity as a phantom roaming the world alone in return for the father for getting what he desired.
But, the magical dragons took pity on Tae and gave him the gift of humanity by day so he only had to be a phantom by night.
Centuries later, another greedy man for wealth and power, Lord Park, is bleeding his villagers dry through impossible rents and dishonest dealings. Eun Na’s family are poor loggers and they are desperate to earn their living and keep up with the increasing rent and demands from cruel Lord Park. Then an injury to her strong father leaves Eun Na no choice, but to strike a bargain with the devilish Lord Park.
Meanwhile, the mysterious Tae is captivated by Eun Na’s strength in the face of adversity and she, with him for his kindness, support, and help. Lord Park’s idle son, Min Jae has his eyes opened to what others are suffering at his father’s hand when he becomes friends with Eun Na and the village shaman Miyu. Miyu is attracted to Min Tae, but knows its hopeless even if her young dragon companion predicts a different future.
I love reading fairytales, folk tales and variations on them so this magical story captivated me. The underlying tales were new to me even if the themes were familiar. I loved seeing the underdogs fight against a villain. It was not easy and definitely came with some tragedy.
The writing took a bit for me to adjust and felt awkward at first especially when it shifted from point of view quickly between the four main players and the indicators of the shift were tough to see. But, once I caught on, I was able to sink into the story and find it a delightful surprise. I didn’t get as much Korean culture as I was hoping, but there were bits and I enjoyed what I got and led me to look up details.
This was a heartfelt story with a strong finish. I can definitely recommend it to those looking for a story based on mythology or fantasy with a strong romance element and a humorous, whimsical dragon.
Mt. TBR #48
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