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.
I have, once a, been bamboozled by what I’d hoped was a fun YA novel. I had such high hopes for Wicked Fox: gumiho/nine-tailed fox female protagonist, modern urban-Korean setting, super pretty cover. Unfortunately, I’ve instead been given an edgy edgy female protagonist with the personality of a rock, a male love interest who gets verbally abused by said MC and thinks to himself, man I bet she’s super nice, and a supporting cast of shitty people doing shitty things.
First there’s Gu Miyeong. Queen of, I’m a monster, I shouldn’t exist, my mother hates, my life sucks and I don’t deserve friends. Miyeong gets to join the club of edgy and depressed monologing YA protagonists who wax on and on about how they’re terrible people and no one should ever like them because they’re Bad™. I do like Miyeong a little better than the others because girl puts her money where her mouth is and actually kills people, but I have to suffer a chapter of her whining about it before and after. What does it take for an author to write a female YA protagonist who’s dark and slightly edgy, but takes pride in it?
Next, we have main love interest Jihoon, who spends his days at the PC bang to drown out the emotional sorrow that his mother ditched him for a new family. Oh, and this new girl Miyeong is transferring to his school, that’s pretty cool. You know, the girl he just watched commit bloody murder the night before? The best idea is to definitely try and friends with her, then get verbally abused every time you step within a 5ft radius of her. She’s probably suuuuuper nice on the inside. Jihoon, you deserve better.
The supporting cast I did like a little more. There’s more terrible characters like Miyeong’s mother who’s life missions is apparently to make her life living hell, but there are other characters like Junu, a dokkaebi it seems every faction turns to when they want some rare item, who’s life motto seems to be, “fuck you, pay me”. He was quite fun. The problem I had with the cast is that every “nice” plot-relevant character that gets introduced ends up harboring some dastardly secret that makes them actually super evil and they were only pretending to be nice to get what they want. The first time it happens? It’s a pretty interesting plot twist. The third time it happens? Not really a plot twist anymore. Junu gets the exception because he was always kinda shady and ended up being nicer.
The plot vehicles in this story were another problem I had issues with. Namely, every major plot point could have been solved within a chapter had the characters actually bothered to communicate with each other. There’s the classic, two people like each other but can’t communicate worth shit so everytime conflict happens they have a big fight over a small misunderstanding. Miyeong’s gumiho bead falls out and she can’t put it back in, but her mother won’t actually listen to her talk so she goes through sketchy methods and surprise! Sketchy methods don’t work. Etc. Etc. Seriously, this book could have been a novella if the characters bothered to sit down and listen.
Finally, for a book that’s supposed to emphasize the importance of family values and family relationships, all the families her are super shitty to each other. Miyeong’s mother has basically verbally abused her “for her own good” since the day she was born, yet at the very end, I’m supposed to believe Miyeong’s just fine with it? Jihoon’s situation with his halmeoni is actually caring, but only because his mom dumped him after her divorce, and by the end (after no real action from his mother), he’s suddenly chill with it again? Then there are characters who you thought were found family but (ohohoho) plot twist! They’re actually shitty people!
Overall, I rate this book a 2/5. This is only the second fantasy novel I’ve read that’s set in Korea (YA or otherwise) and I was really excited for the representation. Unfortunately, I didn’t like any of the characters and I found the plot contrived.
r/Fantasy 2020 Bingo Squares
- Novel Set in a School/University
- Romantic Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Publisher: GP Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers