Title: A Touch of Gold
Author: Annie Sullivan
Publisher: Blink/HarperCollins Christian Publishing
Publication Date: August 14, 2018
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
(Digital ARC graciously provided by the publisher via Edelweiss)
The story about King Midas’ golden touch was one of the most memorable stories I’ve learned when I was a child. It was a warning against greed and its consequences when you let it take over you. The end of King Midas’ story was pretty much a done deal, one where you could easily imagine him living a happy and contented life with his daughter after having learned his lesson.
Annie Sullivan, however, breaks open that ending to bring forth an entertaining expansion of the old tale in her debut novel A Touch of Gold.
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?
I had a hard time deciding what I really think and feel about this book. I did like it – the thought of a book about King Midas’ daughter was an intriguing concept – but somehow it just missed the mark and settled for ‘good’ instead of ‘great.’
A Touch of Gold continues King Midas’ story, putting his daughter, Princess Kora, at the center of things in a creatively expanded world built upon the original myth. Featuring cursed royals, pirates, sirens, a quest to retrieve stolen treasures, deception and betrayal, the book is an adventurous, twisty read.
It starts out strong, opening the story with an attention-grabbing prologue. It has me eating it up. Then, the problems started to trickle in. The first half of the story moved too slowly especially for a standalone.
The story’s secondary characters, meanwhile, annoyed and bothered me. Hettie, Kora’s cousin, got on my nerves. She made getting into the already dragged out first part even harder with all her whinnying and complaining. I seriously wanted to reach into the story and hit her with a pillow (or something). The insta-love between Kora and Aris, the Duke of Wystlinos quickly made me wary, though, this one I understand for reasons I will later explain.
Still, I powered through, and was rewarded when I reached the last half.
Action-filled and twisty up to the end, the last half of this book definitely held the story’s most interesting parts. Pirates! Sea adventure! Fighting off sirens intent to drown you! Who could resist those?!? I definitely couldn’t. Even this, though I enjoyed it, is a little bit problematic. It was rushed and predictable. There were key parts that could have been explored better, like Aris’ betrayal and the immediate shift of Kora’s affection from Aris to Royce.
One thing I can’t fault this book for, though, is Kora’s character growth. Cloistered inside her father’s palace, only getting glimpses of the outside world through her books, Kora has grown full of fear and insecurity. She is scared of hurting people with her strange growing powers, scared of scaring other people away, and, most especially, she is scared of herself. Just like her father, she has let the curse define her and this is a blow to her self-worth, so when someone, a stranger practically, comes around and tells her all these nice things, she falls for it and later pays the price for her naivety.
But she admits her mistakes and, more, she learns from them. Kora starts to trust herself bit by bit as her quest to retrieve her father’s gold progressed, and by the end of the book, she willingly accepts the challenge of becoming the princess her kingdom needs her to be – a capable ruler who has her own agency.
Overall, A Touch of Gold was an interesting and enjoyable read so full of action and adventure. It just wasn’t compelling or engaging enough for me. I’d still recommend you guys give this a try especially if you’re craving for a pirate story with a bit of magic.