A fresh and addictive fantasy-romance set in modern-day Seoul.
Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret–she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt.
But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead–her gumiho soul–in the process.
Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl–he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to humans. He’s drawn to her anyway.
With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s.
Title : Wicked Fox
Author : Kat Cho
Series : Gumiho (book one)
Format : ARC
Page Count : 448
Genre : YA paranormal/fantasy
Publisher : G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date : June 25, 2019
Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★
Hollis’ 3 star review
This is a paranormal fantasy, with a heavy focus on Korean mythology, set in present day Seol. And boy did it hook me right away.
“My mother says gumiho are always women because we gain our power from the moon.”
“And what is a man?“
Honesty, the first 1/3rd of this book was nonstop delight. It was interesting, refreshing, funny, thrilling.. I loved both our heroine, a half-human half-nine-tailed fox — who chooses to siphon the life force from evil men to survive (unlike her mother, a full gumiho, who prefers to go straight for the liver) — and our plucky, clumsy, devil-may-care hero, who has the good (or bad, depending on your point of view) fortune to be rescued by her.
[his grandmother] used to tell Jihoon stories about [goblins] tricking humans and nine-tailed foxes eating the livers of men. Horror stories camouflaged as fables to teach lessons. But those types of stories were supposed to stay in books, not come to life and almost choke him to death.
Both characters have endured the loss of parents and are variations of isolated or alone : Miyoung because she doesn’t fit in, and her mother has taught her to not stand out so as to never give herself away, and Jihoon who, despite having two good friends, just tends to keep things light, and on the surface, so he can’t be hurt by further loss.
“And your father is a gumiho, too?“
“He was human.”
“Was? Is he dead?“
“How should I know? I’ve never met the guy.”
“How dysfunctionally ordinary.”
I loved that, without feeling heavy handed about it, these characters also put the more typical fantasy gender stereotypes somewhat on their head. Miyoung is the one with the power, the strength, and she’s the one recusing the hero. But she’s also the monster.
“When you’re constantly treated as a pariah, and labeled bad, you might begin living up to the expectation.”
Things get — extra — complicated when Miyoung’s bead, her soul, is separated from her body, and there are shamans, secrets, and betrayals galore. I especially enjoyed events right around this time, when Miyoung is trying to solve her problem without crossing her stern mother, when she’s trying to fend off Jihoon’s attempts at friendship, and all the funny little exchanges they have. But this book did kind of falter shortly after most of that early action and things felt pretty dragged out. This is also a pretty long book (over four hundred pages) so a long book was made to feel longer because stuff just.. isn’t happening?
“If I die, it’s not for you. I’m dying for me.”
That said, I found the world effortless to lose myself in. The writing, the mythology, the worldbuilding, the chapters that showcased and told us of past Gumihos, it was all fascinating. The characters, too, I really liked and it was, at times, really funny. And while the middle did drag, I thought the ending captured some of that early magic for me, so I’ll definitely read on (not sure if this is a duology or a trilogy at this point).
** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **