young adult books

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings by author Ellen Oh

A THOUSAND BEGINNINGS and ENDINGS

Star-crossed lovers, meddling immortals, feigned identities, battles of wits, and dire warnings: these are the stuff of fairy tale, myth, and folklore that have drawn us in for centuries.

Fifteen bestselling and acclaimed authors reimagine the folklore and mythology of East and South Asia in short stories that are by turns enchanting, heartbreaking, romantic, and passionate.

Compiled by We Need Diverse Books’s Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman, the authors included in this exquisite collection are: Renée Ahdieh, Sona Charaipotra, Preeti Chhibber, Roshani Chokshi, Aliette de Bodard, Melissa de la Cruz, Julie Kagawa, Rahul Kanakia, Lori M. Lee, E. C. Myers, Cindy Pon, Aisha Saeed, Shveta Thakrar, and Alyssa Wong.

A mountain loses her heart. Two sisters transform into birds to escape captivity. A young man learns the true meaning of sacrifice. A young woman takes up her mother’s mantle and leads the dead to their final resting place.

From fantasy to science fiction to contemporary, from romance to tales of revenge, these stories will beguile readers from start to finish. For fans of Neil Gaiman’s Unnatural Creatures and Ameriie’s New York Times–bestselling Because You Love to Hate Me.

King by author Ellen Oh

KING

King by Ellen Oh, founder of #WeNeedDiverseBooks, will be loved by fantasy and action fans of Kristin Cashore’s Graceling, Tamora Pierce’s Tortall novels, and Marie Lu’s Legend series!

This thrilling and romantic conclusion to the Prophecy series brings Kira her final quest. Girl warrior, demon slayer, tiger spirit of the yellow eyes—Kira is one captivating heroine. Author Marie Lu raved, “After finishing my journey with Kira, all I wanted was more!” Here is the much-anticipated final installment in the Prophecy series!

King by Ellen Oh, founder of #WeNeedDiverseBooks, will be loved by fantasy and action fans of Kristin Cashore’s Graceling, Tamora Pierce’s Tortall novels, and Marie Lu’s Legend series! This thrilling and romantic conclusion to the Prophecy series brings Kira her final quest. Girl warrior, demon slayer, tiger spirit of the yellow eyes—Kira is one captivating heroine. Author Marie Lu raved, “After finishing my journey with Kira, all I wanted was more!” Here is the much-anticipated final installment in the Prophecy series!

All eyes are on her. Kira, once an outcast in her home village of Hansong, is now the only one with the power to save her kingdom. Kira braves a sea of tigers and battles armies of demons as she learns to trust herself, the romantic feelings for Jaewon that are growing within her, and the destiny that must be hers.

Warrior by author Ellen Oh

WARRIOR

First an outcast, now a hero.

But her fight rages on.

Kira, the yellow-eyed demon slayer who fiercely protected her kingdom—and the crown prince—has been proclaimed the Dragon Musado of the prophecy. With the help of the first lost treasure, the legendary tidal stone that controls the seas, she defeated the evil shaman.

But it wasn’t enough.

Hansong is in chaos. The Demon Lord’s minions have infiltrated the city, treason is brewing among the military ranks, and Kira is buried by the overwhelming loss of her parents. She’s also plagued by the annoying feelings that blossom whenever she’s around Jaewon. But she is determined that nothing will stop her from finding the second treasure needed to fulfill the Dragon King’s prophecy. Not even the army of half-breed demons hot on her trail. If only she could learn to trust others . . .

Her father always said one person can change the world. Will it be Kira?

Click here for Warrior review

“Warrior continues the saga of Kira, the fierce demon slayer introduced in Prophecy (HarperCollins, 2013)–a fantasy adventure novel set within an alternate history of feudal Korea. In the previous title, the protagonist obtained the legendary tidal stone that controls the seas and defeated the evil shaman who had infiltrated her kingdom. However, she couldn’t prevent the deaths of her parents and her uncle, the king of Hansong. Without their leadership, the kingdom is thrown into chaos, and Kira must continue her quest for the two remaining treasures in order to fulfill the Dragon King’s prophecy and bring peace to her land. In this installment, the teen attempts to retrieve a legendary jeweled dagger from the clutches of a dragon while continuing to serve as bodyguard to her nephew, the crown prince. The female warrior remains a compellingly rich character who learns to follow her instincts, trust others, and forgive. Her conflicted feelings about the attentions from two very different suitors add an interesting romance plotline, without deterring from the main story. This is an action-packed adventure with a fresh batch of terrifying enemies, surprise attacks, and unexpected allies. Realistic dialogue and an exciting pace make this a page-turner. Warrior is sure to satisfy Prophecy fans and win over new devotees.”
– SLJ Review

Prophecy by author Ellen Oh

PROPHECY

The greatest warrior in all of the Seven Kingdoms… is a girl with yellow eyes.

Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope…

Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King Prophecy, but the missing treasure of myth may be the true key. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.

Intrigue and mystery, ancient lore and action-packed fantasy come together in this heart-stopping first book in a trilogy.

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“What an adventure! I fell in love with the lush, richly woven world of PROPHECY. Kira is truly a force to be reckoned with. When I finished my journey with her, all I wanted was more. Spectacular!”
– Marie Lu, author of the LEGEND trilogy

“Filled with ancient lore, political intrigue, non-stop action, and a fiercely determined heroine, PROPHECY is a rich and thrilling read—my favorite kind of book!”
– Robin LaFevers, author of GRAVE MERCY

“With betrayal, demon attacks, and the threat of war, Prophecy grabs you from the start and never lets go. Oh has written an exciting debut woven with Korean myth and lore, and sets us on a heroine’s journey with Kira that promises more fantastic adventures to come.”
– Cindy Pon, author of SILVER PHOENIX and FURY OF THE PHOENIX

“Gr 9 Up–Hansong is one of seven ancient kingdoms undergoing infiltration by imps and demons. Kira is a demon slayer, gifted with special abilities since birth. She’s sworn to protect her cousin, the crown prince of Hansong. Kira’s dreams, along with an ancient prophecy, point toward an all-out war, with only one chance for the survival of the human race. So when their kingdom is overtaken by a traitorous lord, Kira and a small gang of loyal friends begin a quest to discover the foretold savior and revenge their families, while saving the world they know. Since the townspeople have no knowledge of the demon threat, Kira is perceived as an assassin instead of a protector.  Being feared and hated has been a part of her life since she was a baby. The author’s exploration of Kira’s realistically complex identity is compelling, and the themes of self-acceptance and self-worth are strong. While clearly a coming-of-age story, at its heart, this is a true adventure novel. The characters are well drawn, the plot is both well conceived and fast moving, and the ending is just satisfying enough, while still leaving readers ready for a sequel.”
– SLJ Review

“Oh puts her knowledge of Korean history and her training in law to excellent use in crafting this high adventure featuring a female bodyguard who can see dimensions beyond our mortal realm. Kira has been an outcast in her medieval world, except to her father, a general; her loving mother and brother; and the royal family, whose young son she is assigned to guard. But she is an excellent, brave soldier and cannot be ignored when the king’s army is routed, and the prince must be taken to a safer place. Even as Kira pursues her certainty that there is a traitor in the king’s forces, she aches for her own mother and to be relieved of decision making that affects the lives of others. The supernatural elements here are more folkloric than fantasy-tinged. At the core of the story is the exploration of human traits, which leads to an exciting climax and an ending that clears the way for a sequel. Excellent for those who enjoy Lensey Namioka’s YA titles.”
– Booklist Review

“Newcomer Oh launches the Dragon King Chronicles, a fantasy trilogy equally grounded in Korean folklore and the epic Western tradition of quest adventure. Seventeen-year-old Kira, daughter of the top general in Hansong, calls to mind Robin McKinley’s Aerin Dragon-Killer—physically different from her kin, socially ostracized, psychologically insecure, yet stubborn. This heroine’s gift is the ability to literally sniff out demons and slay them, making Kira invaluable as a bodyguard to her cousin, the crown prince, but unwelcome among sneering court ladies and traditional townsfolk. Kira’s royal relatives are arranging a political marriage she does not want, monks are proclaiming an ancient prophecy about a hero, and treacherous assassins haunt her dreams. It’s a fraught existence, full of combat and touches of human empathy. With its historical setting and focus on adventure, the story should have a broad appeal, including to even younger readers, though there are some scenes of moderately graphic violence. With solid pacing and dialogue, it’s a promising start to this trilogy.”
–  Publisher’s Weekly Review

“In a magical ancient Korea, a demon-slaying princess defends her family and her kingdom. Kira may be the king’s own niece and Hansong’s lone female warrior, but that doesn’t make her popular. Her yellow eyes and demon-hunting abilities make the citizenry fear her; her male clothing and fighting skills make the nobility loathe her. At least in her role as bodyguard to the heir, her young cousin Taejo, she has a purpose in the court. Hopefully that purpose will be enough to convince her parents not to marry her off to the attractive but vicious nephew of the king’s advisor, Lord Shin. Despite all her suspicions, which are aided by prophetic visions, Kira doesn’t foresee treachery soon enough. Lord Shin lets Yamato soldiers into the castle—many of whom are possessed by demons only Kira can see. She flees with Taejo, and thus begins a prophecy-driven quest to take back their kingdom from the Yamato and avenge their lost. Muddling through on equal parts martial arts and stubbornness, Kira finds new allies and gains desperately needed magical skills. Fans of Kristin Cashore’s Graceling (2008) will be drawn to the despised warrior princess; fans of Cindy Pon’s Silver Phoenix (2009) will love the setting.”
Kirkus Review

Diverse Energies with author Ellen Oh

DIVERSE ENERGIES

The stories in Diverse Energies journey through many alternate histories and projections of the future, but all have one important element in common: the inclusion of people of color. At a time when some fans have criticized The Hunger Games for casting African American actors to play Rue, Thresh, and Cinna, it is more important than ever that science fiction and fantasy worlds include a truly diverse cast of characters.

“So often the future looks whitewashed in YA dystopias,” says Tu Books Editorial Director Stacy Whitman. “In general many authors, including Tobias, feel that there is a gap in which people of color looking for depictions of themselves in the future can’t find them, especially young readers. These outstanding stories show that even in a dystopian future, people of color have a place.”

Stories include Paolo Bacigalupi’s “A Pocketful of Dharma,” about a young boy in a futuristic China whose encounter with a Tibetan conspiracy changes his life. Malinda Lo’s “Good Girl” is about a girl searching for her brother in what they think is the last city on earth, a doomed, tightly controlled New York City. “It’s about manipulation and loss and the hope of possibilities,” says Whitman. Meanwhile, Ellen Oh’s “The Last Day” takes a second look at history and considers what might have happened had Nagasaki and Hiroshima not ended the Pacific Theater of World War II.

The title Diverse Energies comes from a quotation from John F. Kennedy that both Buckell and Monti felt encapsulated their desire for greater diversity in fantasy and YA: “No one can doubt that the wave of the future is not the conquest of the world by a single dogmatic creed but the liberation of the diverse energies of free nations and free men.”

Click here for Diverse Energies reviews

“Conceived in an effort to more judiciously represent ethnic and cultural diversity in YA fiction, this provocative collection, edited by SF author Buckell and literary agent Monti explores dystopian themes through multiple lenses. Instead of the usual white faces, the stories feature protagonists from a broader spectrum, all doing their best to survive in hostile or frightening settings. While there’s not a single misfire in this anthology, particular works stand out. Ellen Oh’s “The Last Day” takes place in a world torn apart by a decades-long war, while K. Tempest Bradford’s “The Uncertainty Principle” sees time travel constantly altering one girl’s surroundings. Malinda Lo’s “The Good Girl” is a prickly love story set against the desire for a better life, and Cindy Pon’s “Blue Skies” is almost painful in its longing for escape. Not only do these stories feature racially diverse casts, set all over the world or in space, some have gay and lesbian protagonists, giving readers plenty with which to identify. Happy endings are infrequent, but readers will eagerly immerse themselves in each vividly constructed world.”
– Publisher’s Weekly 

“In an afterword, coeditor Monti writes about a heated 2009 discussion (dubbed “RaceFail 09”) regarding race in fantasy and science fiction, and how his reaction was to put together a collection showcasing “this wonderful, blended, messed-up world.” Hence this book, which feels different than the usual fare—characters, settings, and authors come from all across the global spectrum—and, maybe more to the point, proves to be not that different at all. It starts off with a fabulous one-two punch: Ellen Oh’s devastating “The Last Day,” about a future global war and the horrific Hiroshima-like aftermath; then “Freshee’s Frogurt,” a wild, violent, and funny excerpt from Daniel H. Wilson’s Robopocalypse (2011). In general, the subsequent stories fall on the more thoughtful, brainy side of the sf spectrum. Two standouts are Paolo Bacigalupi’s “A Pocket Full of Dharma,” about the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama on a portable storage drive; and Cindy Pon’s “Blue Skies,” a wistful have/have-not tale from a smog-filthed future Taipei. A solid introduction to a number of highly talented writers.”
– Daniel Kraus, Booklist

WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS!

This map is my invention, illustrated by the extremely talented illustrator Virginia Allyn. It is my recreation of a mystical and fantasy version of Ancient Korea where there are seven distinct kingdoms. Because this map is based on my imagination, you will not find a map like this in any Korean history book. But then again, if you look for maps of ancient Korea, you will find that no two are exactly the same. I was amazed to find how different historians have interpreted the boundaries of ancient Korean kingdoms. The truth is no one can know for sure what a real map of Korea would have looked like during this time period.

When I first became interested in writing a fiction novel on ancient Korea, I contacted a famous professor of Korean history from Harvard University. I asked him what I could do about historical accuracy given my difficulties in finding sources of research for my subject. He stated that it was a good thing I was writing fiction because not a whole lot is known about this period! And he was right. This is a difficult period of time to research, but what is known about it is fascinating.

My novel is based on a time period between 300 and 360 A.D. in ancient Korea when there were many walled city states and warring kingdoms. Some of these city-states became famous kingdoms of ancient Korea. They were Koguryo, Paekche and Shilla – known as the Three Kingdoms. Kaya was also a walled city state of the time, but because it was more of a confederation of many walled cities, it was not historically referenced as one of the Three Kingdoms.

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While each of the Three Kingdoms developed into a centralized state at different times, this period can be said to have begun around 350 A.D. and ended in 668 A.D. Koguryo, the oldest of the kingdoms, began its monarchical rule with its first king, T’aejo, in 53 A.D. However, both Paekche and Shilla did not centralize until much later. Paekche consolidated its power in 369 when it destroyed the Mahan kingdom. Shilla evolved from a walled town state of Saro and became a large kingdom by 356 A.D. The armies of all of these kingdoms were always fighting against one another. These were violent and turbulent times.

The Seven Kingdoms of my historical fantasy:

Hansong Kingdom – based on the walled capital city of Paekche called Hansong. It is the location of modern day Seoul.

Guru – based on Koguryo, one of the Three Kingdoms.

Kudara – based on Paekche, one of the Three Kingdoms.

JInhan – based on Shilla, one of the Three Kingdoms.

Kaya – sometimes referred to as the fourth kingdom, Kaya is based on the kingdom of the same name.

Oakcho – a walled city state of the same name.

Tongey – a walled city state of the same name.

Cathay – located in what is now modern day China.

Yamato – the early island nation that we now know of as Japan. Because of the close ties between Paekche and Yamato, many historians believe that the Yamato descended from the ancient Korean kingdom of Paekche. Archeological evidence validates this claim, clearly showing the prevalence of Paekche culture incorporated in early Yamato history.

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