Book Review: The Last Fallen Star

By Gracie Kim

Riley Oh is super-excited that her sister Hattie is about to turn thirteen which means she will be fully initiated into the Gom clan, a Korean gifted clan of healing witches. Hattie will therefore be able to work her magic unsupervised as a fully fledged witch. Although Riley is only a month away from her thirteenth birthday, because she is adopted, she won’t have an initiation ceremony. Riley is a saram, a person not gifted with magic. When Hattie decides this isn’t good enough and casts a spell to share her magic with Riley during her initiation ceremony, everything goes terribly wrong. Now Hattie’s life hangs by a thread and Riley must somehow find the last fallen star before time runs out for her sister.

This is a fast-paced exciting read with lots of twists and turns that kids will love. I loved the idea of the six gifted clans with their goddess patrons, and the different magical abilities of each clan. Riley has always felt an outsider among the clans, despite belonging to a very loving family, and her desire to share Hattie’s abilities is really a desire to gain acceptance, to feel she belongs. Best friend Emmet, classmate Noah, enemy-turned-ally Jennie, and Taeyo make a good supporting cast. The sisterly bond between Riley and Hattie is endearing, and one of my favourite aspects of the book, despite Hattie being necessarily absent for a large part of the story. I also particularly loved how Riley stuck to the Gom clan’s approach as healers, their motto Service and Sacrifice, even as she discovers more about her background.

I can’t say I was a fan of the Horangi clan. Spoiler alertskip this paragraph, if you plan on reading the book. The fact that the Horangi clan were banished from the clans, cursed to no longer wield the power of their goddess and yet could use technology to be just as magical and powerful as the other clans made the goddesses irrelevant. A story about magical technology harnessing the power within is fine, but I was expecting a story about Korean mythology where goddesses were real, so I was disappointed that, to paraphrase one of the characters, ‘the divine was no longer required’. I also found the Horangi attitude to the inmyeonjo (Korean bird woman, a bird with a woman’s face) quite disturbing, though Riley stayed true to form and her Gom upbringing.

Other than the above, and Riley’s deal with the dokkaebi, a Korean goblin (how can Riley trade something she doesn’t own?), the story is really good, the resolution satisfying, the action and twists enjoyable, the characters likeable, and the Korean mythology a delightful and fascinating backdrop. TOTP and I award The Last Fallen Star 8 out of 10 Diamonds.

14 thoughts on “Book Review: The Last Fallen Star

  1. This was one my favorite reads last year. I loved learning a bit about Korean Mythology. The sequel was good, because readers gain an understanding of the Korean beliefs about the afterlife. but I loved the first book the most. I have also read some other Korean Mythology and am learning more about animal spirits. Think there is a book 3 coming out.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m enjoying the various fantasy books with cultural connections, but they are starting to get a bit samey. I struggled with The Last Fallen Moon. Your dog, on the other hand is ADORABLE. Those eyes! Thanks for including that picture.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll be very interested in your thoughts! The book ticks a lot of fantasy tropes so I don’t know if not reading much fantasy will make them look fresh or make you not enjoy it! 🙂


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