I previously wrote a 6 paragraph review of this while at the airport but then accidentally deleted it with no way to get it back, but let’s try this again because I absolutely loved Wicked Fox and need to talk about it!
In Wicked Fox, Miyoung is half human, half gumiho. Every 100 days she needs to feed off the gi of people to live and keep her immortality. Because of this, she keeps to herself and has never made any true friends. Jihoon is a charming yet lazy high school student whose mother left him to his halmeoni when he was just a baby. He first gets involved with Miyoung when he gets attacked in the forest and Miyoung saves him.
Kat Cho’s writing is both accessible yet atmospheric and rich with Korean culture and mythos. Cho, a Korean author, sets her story in modern day Korea so we get a chance to experience Korean family dynamics, language, mannerisms, and customs. She also expands on the gumiho legend every few chapters which adds to the magical atmosphere. After the prologue, the pacing is a little slow for awhile, but I think it helps to set up the rest of the story.
I really like the exploration and execution of the themes. First, Kat Cho explores what it means to be alive through the lives of Miyoung and Jihoon. Miyoung is immortal. She may live forever, but she spends her life in isolation never making lasting relationships and never experiencing what most teenagers get to experience in fear of someone finding out her secret of being a gumiho. She wants for nothing because her mother, who is also a gumiho, has lived long enough to get her anything she wants. Yet her mother is old enough to know how to survive and is hardly around to make sure she and Miyoung keep on surviving. On the other hand, there is mortal Jihoon. He will obviously not live forever, but he’s had lasting relationships since he was a kid. He is also not financially wealthy, but has a close and affectionate relationship with his halmeoni and never has to worry about not being able to live his life to the fullest.
Next we see different expressions of maternal love through Miyoung’s and Jihoon’s guardians. First, there is Jihoon’s mother. She had Jihoon when she was very young and left him with his halmeoni when he was just a baby. Though in present time Jihoon has no relationship with his mother and even seems to resent her, he is also curious about her, and she seems to be curious about him, too. Next, there is Jihoon’s halmeoni. She constantly scolds and yells at Jihoon, but there is no doubt that she loves him. Miyoung even points out how her relationship with Jihoon is so comfortable they don’t even notice how easily they love each other.
“Jihoon and his halmeoni moved with such consideration for each other, a lifetime of learned behavior. She spooned some of her meat into his bowl. He nudged the cucumber kimchi closer to her before she reached for it… How could two people go from shouting in the street to sharing such a loving meal? They were so at ease with their love. They fought and laughed and adored each other so openly.”
Finally there is Miyoung’s mother, Yena. Yena is always on the move. She does not see her daughter often and also expects the best from her. Though Yena and Miyoung don’t have the most affectionate relationship, all Yena does is for Miyoung and she always reminds Miyoung that she is her daughter and that makes her “smart and beautiful and strong, and loved.” In return, Miyoung loves and is loyal to her. Yena is one of my favorite characters in this story because her relationship with Miyoung reminds me of my relationship with my mother before I reached adulthood. I consider my mom one of my best friends now, but she was incredibly strict while I was growing up because she wanted me to survive and succeed.
My only gripe and the only reason this book didn’t get 5 stars from me is the romance. I loved the slow-burn developing friendship, but I personally think the romance felt forced. Other than that I had such a fun 6-hour flight because of this book, and I’m definitely looking forward to the next installment!