‘A Touch of Gold’ Shines Bright | A Spoiler-Free Review

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★★★★☆

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You have never read a fantasy retelling like this. 


I was vaguely interested in A Touch of Gold because it was a retelling of the story of King Midas from the point of view of his daughter. It seemed like something I haven’t come across before, and I’m glad I didn’t do any more research into it. In fact, I didn’t even finish reading the summary — which isn’t particularly bad, since I don’t think the Goodreads summary is very indicative of the huge amount of adventure, pirates, betrayal and, of course, gold that you’ll be seeing in A Touch of Gold.

Then again, there are quite a few twists and turns, so maybe that’s a good thing.

I’m not going to painstakingly craft another summary, but I will give you guys some spoiler-free notes: 

If you like sword fighting, training montages where the leading lady doesn’t magically become a master swordsman in five seconds, magical gold, curses, sea ‘Temptresses,” and some light romance… This book is for you. Bonus if you’re into re-tellings, especially since the story of King Midas isn’t your usual fairytale re-telling.

If you aren’t intrigued enough, I’ll get into what I loved about this book. 

It flew by. I started it over the weekend and stayed up until 4:00 AM Sunday night reading. I read every spare moment during work Monday and finished the book on my walk home. It was so worth it. Annie Sullivan may not be a household name (yet?) but she absolutely knows how to keep readers turning pages. Even if you don’t totally identify with the characters, the plot will still reel you in and keep you invested.

I feel like I’m on the fence about the characterization in this book, though. It was very plot-driven and there wasn’t much time for characters to really settle into themselves. I would argue Royce and Hettie have the most personality out of anyone else, perhaps including the main character, Kora. I see why Sullivan chose to write this way, but it left me feeling both exhilarated (because of the amazing story) and a little empty (because I didn’t feel super connected to the characters or the world).

My heart was pumping, and by the last chapter I was hoping I could just read this story forever, but when it was over I didn’t feel that strong yearning to be back in Kora’s world. I didn’t have a book hangover, as many bookworms refer to it. I absolutely stand by my points about its originality and the amazing plot, but I didn’t have that soul-level connection with the characters or the world.

So, as far as why I rated this book four instead of five stars… The lack of characterization or worldbuilding, coupled with a very strange and troubling portrayal of demonized female (non-human) beings who hate all men and blame men for all of their problems. It seems important to note that these beings were actually once human, but damned for eternity by a male god because he thought they were pretty but got bored of them, basically. They tried to remind Kora of all of the men who have let her down or hurt her and tried to get her to be swallowed by a hatred of men so she would join them, but Kora resisted. I can’t tell whether the scene seems anti-feminist or not, but it was a little disconcerting, dragged me out of the story a bit, and was just overall weird that the dialogue was so explicitly coded.

Honestly, though, none of the reasons I knocked a star off should prevent you from reading this gorgeous book! Sullivan’s expertly-crafted descriptions of what Kora is feeling at any time coupled with intense action sequences made this book a thrilling read. I would gladly recommend it to anyone remotely interested in Greek myths, fantasy re-tellings, magic or pirates. It’s a super fun read, and at 320 pages, it’s easy to blaze through.


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