As someone who’s part Korean and rarely gets to see that part of herself represented in books, I KNEW Wicked Fox was going to be my most anticipated read of the season. The wait was absolutely agonizing—I requested for the ARC, tried to pull all strings possible to get it, but came out empty handed. Luckily I got my own finished copy at ALA, where I got to meet Kat and thank her personally for writing about our culture. It took me a little while to actually pick the book up after I had gotten it since I felt like I was expecting way too much of this book, but it turned out to really fun!
Wicked Fox revolves around an eighteen-year-old half-Gumiho named Gu Miyoung. She’s a nine-tailed fox spirit that needs to readily consume gi to survive, but she doesn’t like to kill. Therefore, she only targets criminals and low-lives who she feels rightfully deserved their deaths. In one of these hunts, she meets Ahn Jihoon as she saves him from a dokkaebi—or goblin. In the process, she loses her yeowi guseul—or fox bead—which essentially is her soul. Anyone who has possession of her bead can control her every action and the loss makes her slowly get sicker and sicker. On top of all this, Miyoung also has to start school and Jihoon turns out to be the classmate that she can’t shake off. But she has to find her bead so she won’t die, and somehow Jihoon can lend her a helping hand with that.
I personally don’t like the way it was advertised as a book for fans of K-dramas since I’m a firm believer in the fact that a book about Korean culture doesn’t always have to be rooted in dramas, BUT I understand the need to showcase it that way to a mass market. I can’t say it reminded me of any dramas I know, though the characters are interesting and I found myself rooting for them pretty quickly. I COULD NOT, FOR THE LIFE OF ME, REMOVE THE IMAGE OF LEE JONG SUK AS AHN JIHOON IN MY HEAD. Which I’m not really complaining about but it definitely made me stop reading sometimes to just….think. Haha!
Moreover, the writing wasn’t bad, and the plot was interesting, I just found myself slightly bored towards the middle though that was definitely rectified by the end of the book. There was a lot of sections dedicated to unnecessary high school drama that I felt like could’ve been changed to exploring the mythology aspect of the novel more. Miyoung is also lowkey stupid for not being more careful about her secret identity, KNOWING FULL WELL HER MOTHER IS GOING TO GO ON A KILLING SPREE ON ANYONE WHO DISCOVERS THEM. Like, literally just…hide???? As another side note, the romance in itself is relatively dull. If you’re a reader looking for a character-driven story, this isn’t it, but if you want one with nice world-building and magical creatures, this is it.
Overall, this book would be a 3.5/5 for me. I’d definitely recommend it for fans of paranormal YA and urban fantasy, especially those who are looking to diversify their bookshelves. There are unexpected plot twists and even more unexpected betrayals, and that’s what makes Wicked Fox so fun. The story takes quite some time to develop, but it’s a surprisingly light read that has a satisfying conclusion.
Title: Wicked Fox (Gumiho)
Author: Kat Cho
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Source: FC via ALA
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
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