“Foolish man didn’t know beauty was the best camouflage for a monster”
TW/CW: Graphic Violence, Bullying, Depictions of Seizures, Death
Star Rating: ☆☆☆☆
The Wicked Fox is an immersive magical story that takes place in modern-day Seoul that pivots around Korean Mythology. I heard if you love K-Dramas, you’ll love this story. As someone who has never watched a K-Drama, I still found myself enjoying the story immensely and I’m excited to see where Cho takes us in future books. I have never heard of any Korean mythical stories so it was fascinating to finally read about the Gumiho tales and also learning more about Korean culture.
The story centers around two characters, Miyoung–a gumiho (nine-tailed fox)– and Jihoon–you’re average teenager. Miyoung feeds off evil men in order to maintain her immorality. However, after saving Jihoon’s life one night, she loses her fox bead (basically what fuels her) and both characters spend the rest of the story how to reunite with her bead. Love blooms while evil lurks and it’s a story that you can’t help but be enticed by. Cho devises such an atmospheric world and does a stellar job and pulling the reader into the story. I also appreciated that she does make the Korean culture heavy but also explains everything in an accessible way without making it seem to “teach-y.”
Miyoung is a strong-willed character who has a shell that’s difficult to break. She endures a lot of pressure from her mother, Yena, who wants her to overcome her weaknesses and urges her to keep feeding off men. Miyoung also experiences a lot of trust issues, especially from men, because her father left her when she was just one year old. Throughout the story, we also see her self-reflections on whether she’s a monster, even though the men she’s killing are bad men. I love these types of character arcs because you really see the nuances when it comes to good and evil.
Jihoon was a delightful character to read from. He’s a bit silly, apathetic about school but empathetic towards his closest friends and his Halmeoni (grandmother). He also has complicated family relations, notably with his mother who created her fairytale life without him. Because of that, he also has a lot of trust issues and tends to keep his tight-knit group of friends as tight as possible. Reading from Jihoon’s perspective was also interesting because he knows that Miyoung kills for a (literal) living but we see how he nonetheless falls in love with her and vice versa.
The relationship between these two characters really kept me invested in the story. Jihoon was already fascinated by Miyoung after she saved him from a creature and basically forced a friendship with Miyoung. Although Miyoung wasn’t really having it, their relationship really became something real and fun to read about. They both share common family dysfunctionalities but they also both have family members who they put first. Jihoon being his Halmeoni and Miyoung being her mother. Their loyalties with these two family members drive the story and also keeps the stakes high.
“When someone’s important to you, you’re willing to give up a lot for it.”
Yes, the story was a tad bit predictable and times, especially with some of the betrayals but the story and characters constantly gripped me that those things didn’t bother me as much. Although I enjoyed the story, my one gripe was one of the twists, in the end, was kind of random to me and didn’t really particularly make any sense. It took me out of the story for a little bit.
Nonetheless, Wicked Fox was a stunning debut and a great start to I hope an extensive series. The story weaves in multiple themes about love, loyalty, and sacrifices that make a story anyone can devote to. You should get your hands on the Wicked Fox because Kat Cho will transport you into a mystical, remarkable, contemporary world.