Did Annie Sullivan write this book while watching Frozen?
I remember the first time I heard of A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan. at the time I was extremely excited to read it. I mean, I’m pretty sure there hasn’t been a YA King Midas adaptation ever, so this sounded like a wonderful reading opportunity. And I’ll be honest, A Touch of Gold did get off to a really nice start. Unfortunately, much to my dismay, it didn’t maintain that good throughout the course of the novel. And, in a weird turn of events, I found myself flashing back to Disney’s Frozen far too often while reading this.
So, A Touch of Gold is the story of King Midas’ daughter, after having been cursed to turn to gold by her father’s mistakes. Though he would go on to attempt to save her, his efforts were minimal and thus Kora remained half-cursed just as her father. While Midas can no longer turn objects to gold, he has grown entirely dependent on them to the point that he’s unable to be without them in his presence for long. Young Kora, cursed to have golden skin and a portion of her father’s power, has been hidden away in the castle nearly all her life.
With their kingdom in tremendous debt, it falls to Kora to marry a wealthy man in order to save it. Thus begins the parade of young suitors, all easily scared away the moment they see her golden skin. Then, finally, only one boy doesn’t run away. But when a thief makes off with the gold keeping her father alive, their introduction is interrupted. Suddenly, the only person with the power to find the missing gold, it falls to Kora to get it back. All at once, Kora finds herself facing the adventure she’s always dreamed of.
Anna / Elsa
I weirdly felt like Kora was a mashup of the two Frozen sisters. Give Elsa’s powers to Anna and that’s basically how you get Kora. She’s an isolated and miserable girl with a magic she can’t quite control. Her magic scares the hell out of her. She’s also got a penchant for falling in love easily. She desperately wants to get out of her isolated life and explore the world. A familial disaster begins her first experience outside of her palace.
And then there’s that plot twist.
All that said, I didn’t mind Kora. I get where some of the criticism of her comes from, of course. She’s certainly not the most empowered female character and this book…probably does not even pass the Bechdel test. But she was okay. And when I look back on this book I find that I’m honestly far more annoyed with the plot and execution than I am with Kora herself. She might have been great had she been written with better circumstances.
Hans / Kristoff
Does it count as a spoiler if it’s super obvious?
Let’s just say that the way certain characters were written made it incredibly clear to me that there was something off about the whole situation. And while, sure, the subtype plot that Sullivan was going for is great, when done correctly. But I was never once really duped here. And what’s sad is that I wanted to be.
I think the biggest problem with this plot point is that Sullivan was trying so hard to hide it. Then when the reveal came it was done in such an exposition-like way that it not only felt contrived but somewhat rushed as well. Also, despite how off he was at times, I liked that one character up to that point. So, I think, in trying to make this twist a surprise, Sullivan lost a huge opportunity to set up his motivations. Thus, we’re left with an info dump from a third character and it makes his motivations feel almost non-existent.
We don’t see the moment it all changes. We’re told.
And that’s a problem.
I’ve put this all under a spoiler tag — sooo:
Honestly, I was so disappointed in the direction this story took. I liked Aris in the beginning so much. Yet it becomes obvious the further you get that there’s something off about him. And I remember realizing I knew where the author was going and wishing that she wouldn’t Then, even when she did, she failed at that, too. And I guess, my thoughts here are that to have a Hans-like character in your novel, you have to do it well. Aris simply did not get the development he needed.
Also, the readers did not get to see the betrayal happen. Sullivan went with probably the laziest and most contrived reveal I’ve ever seen. There was nothing exciting about this moment in the slightest, nothing overly shocking or heart-wrenching. This emotional journey of betrayal that Kora feels is felt by the reader as well, except we feel betrayed by Sullivan.
Kora’s just told that Aris is a terrible person. What’s worse about this is the fact that Sullivan had the perfect opportunity for her to be betrayed. I’ll never understand why she didn’t have Aris take Kora away and reveal him that way. Not only could that have given Kora an excellent chance to show some strength as a character–perhaps by escaping?–but then we also would have been there.
Kristoff Sucked, too
Honestly, this is the part where I started to really hate A Touch of Gold. Kora insta-love attached herself to the only other male character who’d been developed (and wasn’t in love with her cousin). And he loved her for…some reason. And while, in theory, the idea sounds great. But Sullivan just couldn’t execute anything in a way that didn’t feel terribly contrived.
I did kind of understand why she liked him, but I could not for the life of me fathom why he liked her. And even though I understood her view, Royce overall was very flat as a character. He had an intriguing backstory, but that was about it. Not to mention the fact that Sullivan had to make him out to be a villain at first (this was dumb, by the way) in order to trick her readers with Aris. [/spoiler]
So, the overall plot follows Kora trying to get her father’s gold back. We spend a lot of time talking about this pirate, Captain Skulls, who apparently played some role in the war that helped bankrupt the kingdom. There’s this whole side plot that happened before the book even began and ties into the motivations of this first-boss villain. And it’s not terrible, exactly.
While not very deep or well-thought-out, he suffices as a villain. There’s a lot of action that he brought the story and, considering action is where Sullivan’s writing seems to shine, it helped. I definitely wasn’t impressed by anything, but I didn’t hate any of it. Which, I guess, is just where I’m at with this book.
So, the villain was over-the-top and the storyline was pedestrian.
But I don’t think I’d have cared much had it not been for the fact that the conflicts don’t really end with him. And I think we kind of get hints of this from the beginning of the story. I suppose, in my own way, I just thought Sullivan would drop it. Sure, she’d set up for it but after all the annoying plot twists, she went for it again and…
I’d probably have given the book three-stars–though even as I say so, I’m really not sure–had it not been for this idiocy. Sullivan really struggles with portraying her characters’ motivations. She struggles with the setup, largely because she’s trying to hide all these different plot twists that she wants to shock the reader with. Well, I’ll give her this much. She definitely shocked me with this last bit.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t in a good way.
I kind of just felt like the twist came out of nowhere. Which, ironically, is how I should have felt about the first twist. This one, however, should have gotten a bit more of a setup. There should have been something shown to let the reader know that this was a point of contention. Sadly, I didn’t even care enough about any of the characters to be emotional on their behalf. Instead, I just found the whole thing an annoying additive to the book that just didn’t need to be there.
For a book I was really excited about, I can’t believe how much it disappointed me. Suffice to say, I hope that there is another Midas’ daughter retelling in the future because I need one that’s better than whatever this was.