Young adult urban fantasies are few and far between since I started getting into the genre (over 10 years ago) so I was super excited to read Wicked Fox. Set in modern-day Korea, it follows the story of Gu Miyoung who isn’t quite human and the boy she meets who most definitely is.
I think what initially drew me into the story was that it’s made quite clear early on that Miyoung is a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox from myth and folklore that must feed on the energy of men. There’s no dancing around this secret of hers, no making the reader guess what’s happening, and it hooked me instantly because I wanted to know why her story was being told. As the story progressed and Miyoung gradually came out of her shell, I found I liked her more and more (and thought that her character development was really well done too).
Jihoon, the human boy who leaves more than a lasting impression on Miyoung, wasn’t as interesting to me. Sorry, but he’s human, she’s a gumiho, it’s just how it is. But I think his character was well-placed with hers because they created a balance that the story needed. Where Miyoung kept to herself and was icy toward others, Jihoon was friendly with everyone, and quite talkative too. What I thought was really special was Jihoon’s relationship with his halmoni (his grandmother). There’s a strong family theme spread throughout the story that I don’t see as often as I’d like.
Wicked Fox initially intrigued me and I couldn’t put it down. Then, around a quarter of the way through, I hit a slow point and it took me a bit longer to pick it back up again. That happened a few more times before WHAM plot twist and I sped through to the end. The slower points, I realized, were focused around the sections of the story where Miyoung and Jihoon were getting to know each other and develop their friendship. These scenes were well developed and I really liked how both characters, each who has experienced loneliness and/or isolation due to family, came together and formed a bond with each other to offer peace from that.
Additionally, I really liked that Miyoung was relatable but not instantly likeable. I don’t think characters NEED to be likeable to be good and, at first, I was intrigued by Miyoung but I wouldn’t say I liked her. But I could relate to her and eventually I was rooting for her too. She’s written with enough complexity to keep me on my toes for most of the book. And her mother was both a character and a force of nature in the background, creating a really interesting character dynamic between them.
When I finished Wicked Fox, I couldn’t stop gushing about it. After letting it sit for a bit, I think it’s a great book and I will absolutely pick up the sequel (and any future work by Kat Cho), but it had a few issues to keep in mind. And if you enjoyed Wicked Fox, I recommend The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee which has a different cultural background but the same contemporary fantasy feels.