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Thursday, September 10, 2020

Review: Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

 Wicked Fox 

by Kat Cho

Thanks so much to Penguin Teen for this copy! 

Publisher: Penguin Books
Publish Date: July 21, 2020
464 Pages
Series: Gumiho #1
Genres: Young Adult, Korean Folklore, Fantasy

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 men. He's drawn to her anyway. When he finds her fox bead, he does not realize he holds her life in his hands.

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 and reignite a generations-old feud . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon's.

My Review:

"Not all predators are monsters.  But if you beat them enough, they'll bite."

I Skyped with my parents today and asked my Korean mother if she remembered this lore about the gumiho and it took her a moment but then she realized this is something she remembers hearing about from her grandmother who heard it from her grandmother and so on - and that is how old this lore is.  Let me take a moment to mention that I didn't realize just what I was missing in reading Korean authors and now being gifted their books.  It has hit me in my heart in a way I never even imagined it would.  Or maybe this pandemic is just making me extra sensitive. 😉

This story is placed in my birth city, Seoul.  Miyoung is half human and half gumiho - a fox with nine tails who needs to feed on the life force of men at least every 100 days in order to survive.  But how do you do this and not be the monster you're truly afraid of turning into?  When her fox bead is released, she must now find a way to get it back.  Enter Jihoon - who not only makes her in touch more so with her human side, but begin to honor her gumiho side as well.  With a fierce and almost cruel mother, she feels almost completely alone.  And their relationship is extremely complex but absolutely relatable.  As a person growing up in two different cultures - it took me YEARS and a LOT of conversation for me to realize that it was my mom's way of showing her love for me and she ALWAYS has my best interests at heart.  So I FEEL YOU GIRL/FOX. (Also, I feel this 100 day mark is a nod to the Korean 100 day celebration that we have for babies as this is an important milestone because a lot of babies never made it that far due to illness and poor medical knowledge, etc.)

I could ramble about a zillion things here.  Listen, I wasn't sure how I would feel about this book through the first few chapters and there's certainly some critiques I could make but ultimately, I ended up glued to the pages.  I miss my halmeoni so much as she was such a staple to my childhood and this book honors her strong role in the family.  The story itself is compelling, addictive and beautiful to read.  I was so involved that I found myself gasping at certain moments.  I'm so happy I have book 2 waiting for me on my shelf.

Also, the next pet I get will definitely be named Dubu after the dog in this book (means tofu in Korean!)


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