Our young adult subscription boxes never fail to disappoint, and 2022 was no different. Our monthly themed boxes filled with surprises were a resounding success, and our readers voted to decide their favorite. We are proud to announce that the 2022 best young adult subscription box was the incredible story by Axie Oh, The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea. It was a unique and captivating story that kept our readers enthralled until the very end. We are proud of the feedback we received from our readers and the enthusiasm they had for the story.
It was the star of our February's Mythical Sea Curse themed box, and our readers couldn't put the book down. They also loved the surprise gifts that brought the book to life in our unique Once Upon a Book club way!
Our gifts are always a highlight, and this box contained some of our favorites; a delightful stacking ceramic tea set that included two cups, a tea strainer, and a beautiful teapot, along with the perfect coin purse containing a lotus flower shaped tealight candle and a fabulous wooden hanging frame displaying an artistic print of a flying crane.
Who Is Axie Oh?
New York Times bestselling author Axie Oh was born in New York and grew up in New Jersey. Writing has always been her passion which she has successfully combined with her heritage as a first-generation Korean American.
Her studies include Koreag for Young People from Lesley University.
Her books are heartfelt and captivating, and aside from The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea, she has also written XOXO and the Rebel Seoul series. We are looking forward to her next novel, The Floating World, which will be released in 2024.
Axie is passionate about K-pop, anime and loves stationery supplies (a woman after our own heart), and happily lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with her dog Toro.
The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea
She describes The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea as a romantic young adult fantasy re-imagining the Korean folktale "The Tale of Shim Cheong." This beautifully written book is a story of family, love, sacrifice, and the strength it takes to control your own destiny.
The story centers around Mina, whose homeland has been devastated by deadly storms and floods for centuries, entire villages have been swept away, and now war rages as the villagers fight for what's left.
They believe that the Sea God, who once protected them, has turned against them and cursed them with death and despair. Their only option is to appease him by sacrificing a beautiful maiden each year to serve as his bride, hoping he will one day choose his true bride and end their pain and suffering.
But when Cheong, Mina's older brother's beloved, is chosen to be sacrificed, he follows her out to sea, knowing that he will surely be killed. Mina's only choice to save her brother is to sacrifice herself.
You immediately sense that she will risk everything for her family and her people and when she says, "Take me instead," you aren't at all surprised. Mina jumps into the sea and is swept away to the Spirit Realm, a magical city filled with lesser gods and mythical beasts; here, Mina must find the Sea God and end the curse.
But nothing is ever that simple, and she finds him caught in a deep enchanted sleep and must do everything in her power to wake him. Mina joins forces with Shin, a young man with no soul and an unorthodox bunch of demons, gods, and spirits to rouse the sleeping God from his slumber, but there are those who will do anything to stop the Sea God from waking.
Mina learns that not everything she has been told is quite true, and she must navigate the myths and learn the truth to save herself and her homeland, but she must hurry as humans can't live for long in the Spirit Realm, and her time is running out.
Axie took her inspiration from the whimsical young adult fantasies she grew up reading, like Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted and Diana Wynne Jones's Howl's Moving Castle. Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki also profoundly impacted her with his heart-warming films like Spirited Away.
She had always wanted to write a story with a similar sense of wonder and adventure but where the culture and themes were rooted in her Korean heritage, and The Girl Who Fell Beneath The Sea fits the bill perfectly.
Her writing style flows beautifully, and her whimsical descriptions transport you into the Spirit Realm. You can't help but feel it must be real as her vivid imagery brings the pages to life.
We love the small details she includes as a tribute to her heritage, like the skirt and short jacket the heroine wears inspired by the traditional hanbok. Her goal was for The Girl Who Fell Beneath The Sea to feel like a Korean fantasy and she has definitely accomplished that.
As you read the pages, her belief in family, its importance, and the bonds they carry can be felt throughout the book. Axie describes her mother as her biggest supporter and unsurprisingly dedicated the book to her, for Axie, family is everything. Even her main character Mina, whose love and determination to save her older brother, was inspired by her own devotion to her older brother, who suffered from a childhood illness.
The Girl Who Fell Beneath The Sea is an inspirational tale of irrepressible heroism, beating the odds and never giving up. There is a Mina in each one of us, for we all have challenges and obstacles to overcome.
It is one of those stories you can't put down and never want to end. If you haven't read this incredible book yet, it's not too late to order our Mystical Sea Curse Book Box!