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.
Warnings: death of family member, bullying, violence, mention of sexual predators
Wicked Fox centers its story around gumiho folktales, and a lot of that has to do with how they need to consume human lives to survive. Miyoung is a young gumiho who has been taught from a young age that she is apart from human beings, and as she has only had her mother all her life, she is quite aloof as a person. Jihoon, meanwhile, comes across as a friendly, affable person but he has a lot of scars hidden in his bright persona. They meet when he is being hunted by a goblin and she surprisingly saves his life, leading to the loss of her bead. As she seeks out help to get it back, there is also a lot going on in the supernatural world, and they both are unaware of how much they would get dragged into it.
The vibe of Wicked Fox is part Asian drama cuteness and part dark urban fantasy, so it makes for a delightful mix of a read. Miyoung isn’t that fond of humans, but she only kills predators which she picks with the help of a friend whose family are shamans. She has characteristics of having to mature at a younger age, mostly because of the way her mother raised her in a cold manner. When she is bullied at school, Jihoon intervenes and they become sort of friends (he is, after all, the only one who knows her secret and he happens to have her bead). The first half is about us getting to know them, and their story and some details of the world and the gumiho stories; intermittently, we also get an old story about a gumiho that plays into the plot and explains a certain character. The second half flounders a bit without direction, I feel, as the whole bead thing gets prominence and then there is betrayal and loads of stuff going on. It comes together well enough in the ending, which was still a bit underwhelming, but it resolved stuff nicely.
The writing is good, and the description of the characters and the world around them was done quite well, and it switches between the emotional moods of the story nicely. The audiobook narrator, Emily Woo Zeller, is awesome as always in narration and voices; I, in fact, picked the audio because she was narrating it! Overall, it is an engaging, and interesting start to a series.
Is it diverse? Set in South Korea, and has a South Korean cast of characters