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Gumiho #1

Wicked Fox

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A fresh and addictive fantasy-romance set in modern-day Seoul.

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.

429 pages, Hardcover

First published June 25, 2019

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About the author

Kat Cho

7 books1,795 followers
Kat Cho (she/her) used to hide books under the bathroom sink and then sneak in there to read after bedtime. Her parents pretended not to know. This helped when she decided to write a dinosaur time-travel novel at the tender age of nine. Sadly, that book was not published. She loves to incorporate her Korean heritage in her writing, especially if it involves describing food. She likes anything that encourages nerding out, including reading, K-dramas, K-pop and anime. She currently spends her free time trying to figure out what kind of puppy to adopt. Kat is the New York Times and international bestselling author of the YA contemporary fantasy duology Wicked Fox and Vicious Spirits (Putnam/Penguin). As well as the K-Pop webcomic, Free Hexel, and the YA romcom, Once Upon a K-Prom (Disney).

Find her online at: KatChoWrites.com

To stay up-to-date on my books and author life you can sign up for my newsletter, READICULOUS MUSINGS

***I'm not on Goodreads that much, but if you have any questions you can always reach out to me through my website***

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,604 reviews
Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews153k followers
February 18, 2021
My excitement over this book glowed within the few first chapters, then flamed, then just as quickly, fell as ash to the ground somewhere around the halfway mark. Afterwards, I was crawling across every sentence with the peak of each hard-won page unveiling but another page beyond, unable to worm free of the yoke of that most dreaded mire of the human emotions: boredom. Frankly, this whole experience is but a handful of broken moments scattered through my mind—the story seemed to slid off of me like rainwater from a tin roof the minute I finished the book.

It goes like this: Miyoung is half gumiho, a nine-tailed fox demon, and her hunger for gi—“the energy that emanated from all living things”—was a death drive that demanded more to feed its fire. She and her mother have made the road their home; living their lives in fits and starts, stops and goes. xx had spared no effort in impressing on her daughter how vile and perilous humans are, and thus Miyoung hardened her heart, convincing herself that she is legion—needing no one’s company but her own—and clinging to the reminder that she only siphons gi from evildoers, whenever her conscience struck.

Miyoung met their move back to Seoul with a scowl, knowing it would be yet another cold and tedious stay, but when she meets her careless and affable high school classmate, Jihoon, her mother’s tight face—always louring over her—flakes away and Miyoung forgets—temporarily at least—that the shining ideal she’d only dreamed longingly of from afar was out of her reach.

When Ahn Jihoon stumbles upon Miyoung—in her gumiho form—killing a dokkaebi in the woods, he’d almost convinced himself it had not happened, that it had been a vivid dream, drawn from his grandmother’s descriptions and too much imagination. Soon, though, the incident ceased to seem a thing of the imagination and took on a horrible life of its own. There was darkness in Miyoung, and treachery, that much he knew. She is teetering on the brink of something that will unmake her and he might just be unlucky enough to be standing in the blast zone when it all went off.

While Cho offers an original set up for the first book of her urban fantasy series—dazzlingly expanding the YA scope by introducing a vibrant representation of Korean mythology that is rife with the supernatural, the unexplained, the mystical—she mostly skims the surface of her premise.

Cho’s story ping-pongs back and forth between Miyoung and Jihoon in brief chapters (some only two or three pages) that move the story steadily, granting each scene enough room to breathe, but the sometimes confusingly ordered narrative, cyclical plot elements, and repetitive language dilute the suspense instead of intensifying it, thus diminishing the novel’s impact.

Wicked Fox, ultimately, feels at once scanty and overstuffed: the author introduces a world that begs for more page time and leaves plenty to explore, she paints her characters in shifting shades of moral gray that are no less sharp because of it but a bit more poison in the pen would have helped drawn them more and made their viewpoints more engaging, moments of frantic action and violence crop up here and there, together with flashes of levity and camp, but many scenes don't serve any purpose other than to slam on the brakes, and, as freshly as they're approached, the author also doesn't always keep the clichés from falling like soft rain. I could feel my will to read leaching from me, bled away by the relentlessly slow build and lack of major plot movement, and the ending didn’t exactly inspire any spurt of giddiness in me for the next installment.

But I think the main quibble that drained away any remaining pleasure was how the whole story quickly lapsed into tepid melodrama after the romance overwhelmed the machinations of the plot and the characters. Maybe it’s just me—I am forever aggravated when the romance overtakes the story and eventually envelopes a fantasy novel. I grew dissastisfied with the lack of communication, the endless back and forth, and it's what really kicked me off the story.

That said, don't let my opinion discourage you, though. If you don't mind fantasy novels that are overly reliant on romance, give this book a try!

If you liked this review please consider leaving me a tip on ko-fi !

Profile Image for chloe.
242 reviews28.3k followers
September 6, 2020
2nd read: September 2020

1st read: May - June 2019
Reading this was a dream come true. A young adult urban fantasy set in Seoul? My heart 💗. And it was everything that I wanted a more.

I absolutely loved the Korean mythology and it was perfectly woven into the story. The characters? Amazing. I love them and the relationships that were formed. My heart also broke for them. I'll talk about it more in my wrap up, but GET EXCITED FOR THIS! This comes out 25 June!

Thank you so much Penguin Random House for providing me with an ARC! I am eternally grateful.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,533 reviews32.3k followers
December 18, 2021
where in the world have i been to not know that fantasy kdrama is the genre of the year?! the korean myth of gumihos is not one i was previously familiar with, but this story is making me want to book a one way ticket to seoul to sneak a peek at the little fox fiends.

for a debut, this has all the makings of a great story. its creative, it represents a culture that isnt as mainstream, it has likeable/relatable characters, and the writing is easy to read. i feel that kat cho has brought a lot to this story in terms of her culture and portrays it in a really exciting way. and oh my gosh. the food! the food sounds amazing!! every time a meal was mentioned, my mouth watered.

however, i do think this was drawn out a bit too long. i feel like it could have been condensed a little without comprising the story, although the few moments of slowness werent a deal breaker for me.

this a pretty solid debut and great representation of korean folklore set in a modern setting. cant wait for the sequel!

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Kat Cho.
Author 7 books1,795 followers
March 28, 2021
Wicked Fox Content Warnings: death, bullying, references to parental abuse

UPDATE 4/10/2019:

For anyone outside of the US and Canada, there is going to be an international export edition! AND (drumroll...) it will be under its original title of GUMIHO! (Well, technically GUMIHO: WICKED FOX). I'm so grateful that international readers will get a chance to meet Jihoon and Miyoung!

UPDATE 1/22/2019:

Cover is here! (follow the link for an exclusive excerpt): https://ew.com/books/2019/01/22/wicke...

Please show some love to my cover designer: http://mirandameeks.com/
UPDATE 12/20/18:
As some of you eagle-eyes have already noticed, the title was changed! I finally announced it on Twitter (along with pre-order links). Thank you for all the love you've shown GUMIHO now retitled WICKED FOX!
Also, yes there is an official date now of 6/25/2019 AND there will be a cover reveal very soon! Promise! K-drama hugs to everyone!
Can't wait for everyone to meet Miyoung & Jihoon! <3 <3 <3

Fun facts:

- It is told from dual POV
- Miyoung was a name my halmoni suggested my sister name my niece (which may or may not be because my niece is a gumiho O.o)
- It had 500% more food scenes, but I had to cut a bunch. Don't worry there are still a decent amount of food scenes.

To stay up-to-date on news you can find me at http://katchowrites.com/ or sign up for my newsletter here: eepurl.com/dqylFD


Profile Image for Angelica.
805 reviews1,121 followers
April 21, 2020
I think I might be broken. The part of me that loves reading and actively enjoys the books I read has been tremendously damaged this past year. No book I read is good enough. No book can quite pull me out of the slump I'm in. And just when I think that I'm making my way out of the hole a disappointing book like this comes along to kick me down again.

This book starts out pretty solid. The writing is pretty decent, the characters are likable enough, the story is building and the action starts right out the gate.

In the beginning, we actually have a plot or at least the building concept of one. We have an idea of the dangers of this world and of how it all works. We know what is going on and it all makes sense.

AND THEN... it all goes downhill, fast.

I thought I knew where this story was going. I was terribly wrong. Not because I didn't it coming, in fact, I called most of the big reveals. I was wrong because as it turns out, this story want going anywhere at all.

This book has a serious issue with pacing. The first part flows well. Then it stalls and goes nowhere. Then it's like an old car that you're hoping and praying gets you to your destination as it gives random little lurches followed by stillness and then accelerating at breakneck speed before coming to a sudden halt and then sort of crawling and awkwardly lurching the rest of the way.

The real climax of this novel came around page 250 of this 429-page book. Then we just sort of wander around for almost a hundred more pages before the book finally remembers it has a plot.

Then there were the characters.

I liked them. They were fun...at first. But, as the story went on I realized just how dumb Miyoung actually is. She made so many stupid/ questionable choices. She was also extremely indecisive, one day sticking to one plan before feeling some guilt and diving headfirst into some other convoluted idea.

This is all made worse by the fact that most of the problems in this book could have possibly been avoided if these characters communicated with each other. I died a little bit each time they decided to keep secrets from each other or lie or purposely hide the truth for whatever reason. If the characters had sat down and had a conversation so many issues could have been avoided and so many trees would have been spared because this book would have been so much shorter.

Then there were characters who weren't really characters at all, just two dimensional, vague ideas of what a character should be, despite their importance to the general plot (I'm looking at you, Nara).

All of that said, this book did have some good parts. I really liked Jihoon, he was pretty fun and likable. I like Miyoung's relationship with mother, Yena. It was complex and cruel and yet you could tell how they loved each other.

In the end, this book didn't completely suck, despite my low rating and negative review. Some people will like it. I ain't one of them and so I can’t in good conscience recommend this one. I don't think that I'll be reading the rest of this series. I just can't be bothered to care about that ending or anything else that happens to these characters.

**I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.**.

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Profile Image for Anissa.
67 reviews894 followers
February 6, 2019
So much yes! This was full of so many amazing surprises and twists. I won’t say anymore as I don’t want to give anything away but my heart cannot take the cuteness that is Miyoung and Jihoon. Love!!
Profile Image for monica kim.
202 reviews6,071 followers
July 8, 2019
i loved wicked fox so so much! it was such a rollercoaster of a story, and i especially think kdrama fans will ador it. but truly it’s a book for everyone, filled with so much korean culture that it made my heart soar. i also loved that even thought it’s part of a series, this feels like a whole story and not just an introduction. but i already cannot wait for the next!!
October 9, 2020

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WICKED FOX is the perfect fall read-- it's an urban fantasy novel set in South Korea that relies on Korean folklore, with shamans and demons, including the gumiho, a fox demon that's kind of like the Japanese kitsune/yako, only slightly more evil (they seduce men and eat their livers). Our heroine, Miyoung, is a gumiho who lives with her mothers but only kills evil men. But one day, she catches the attention of an ordinary human boy who ends up finding more about her than she ever dreamed, and makes her feel things she shouldn't. This is more than just a romance, though. Secrets and betrayals abound, and some of them might be deadly.

If you're a fan of the magical/spiritual girl anime, I think you'll really enjoy this book a lot. The pairing of a soft boy with a dangerous girl is a common plot thread in J- and K-dramas, and I loved the subtle nod to the K-drama, My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho. It also gave me Jigoku Shoujo and Vampire Princess Miyu vibes. Miyoung is the classic tsundere who starts out icy, aloof, and dangerous, but ends up being far more sensitive and vulnerable than she initially appears.

Jihoon was also a great character. He's sweet and ordinary, and his relationship with his grandmother was one of the best parts of the book for me. I like how both of them bond over their absent or neglectful parents, because it felt like a realistic connection to explain their need for intimacy and closeness. The Korean folklore elements were also really interesting and I loved learning about the every day life in South Korea, such as what schools are like there, what people eat, and what the social norms are. This is the first paranormal/urban fantasy novel I can remember reading that is set in South Korea, and I felt like Cho did a marvelous job bringing her settings to life.

I'm giving this three stars because it did feel a little uneven in terms of pacing. The beginning was wonderful but I felt like it began to drag in the second half. I liked the twist at the end, even though I suspected it, and I wasn't prepared for the emotional blow the author inflicted upon me. That didn't impact my rating negatively but I do appreciate when authors don't always take the easy, comfortable choice. I thought the plot of the story was good... I just wish I was more engaged in some parts than I actually was, and I thought the "legend" portions, told from omniscient narrator POV, were a bit too heavy on the exposition and actually ended up dragging me out of the story.

Overall, though, this was a really fun debut and has likable characters, an interesting story, and an exciting setting. I'd definitely read more by this author and I'd encourage anyone who's stick of the usual stock Western urban fantasy settings with the typical line up of vampires, werewolves, and witches to give this book a try-- especially if you're into supernatural girl anime and dramas.

3 stars
Profile Image for demi. ♡.
206 reviews277 followers
October 8, 2019
❥ 4 / 5 stars

대박! This is a real combination of Korean Drama and fantasy book. The Korean mythology about Gumiho, a fox with nine tails 🦊, and the story are absolutely interesting. The relationships between characters in this book are PERFECT.

P.S. I’m so excited for the sequel!!
Profile Image for Era ➴.
215 reviews520 followers
January 27, 2022
4 stars. The beginning was solid, amazing, totally 5 stars, and I knew I was going to love it. Then around the middle, it started petering out toward a 3 or 4 stars. I kind of just stopped being so invested and it got disappointing.

The plot - I loved the plot, Miyoung’s narrative especially. The synopsis sounded cliché – girl who has to keep herself hidden, a boy who sees her, they fall in love.

But. The delivery of this gumiho concept and the twists of the plot were completely unique. The yeowu guseul aspect was definitely different and really cleverly added in. It was so much fun to read, although I wish the character arcs had been a bit more defined.

I was expecting this to be a light read, the kind of thing that I can skim.


I got really interested in this book around the 25% mark, and from then on…it was pretty slow work, actually, but I enjoyed it. I couldn't speed through this book.

“A lot can happen in two months. You can meet a girl who seems angry and secretive and learn that it's all just a front for a kind heart that's been hurt too many times. I know what it's like to need to hide your bruises behind a facade.”

The writing. I wasn’t paying much attention to the writing style, mostly because it was fairly ordinary in the storytelling. There wasn’t anything in Kat Cho’s writing style that was super unique – not that that’s a bad thing, because it was still really good. It’s just that the writing wasn’t a major part of this book.

The characters. The characterization was really good, really fun to read and pretty layered.

Miyoung – a young gumiho (nine-tailed fox), who keeps her powers repressed and recently moved back to Seoul. She does her best to stay under the radar. She acts very cold and distant at school to avoid attracting attention, but is also secretly concerned about everyone else; as in, are they safe from monsters like her? She has low self-esteem in the sense that she believes she’s a monster.

Jihoon – an easygoing, lazy, not-exactly-studious human teenage boy. He comes across Miyoung when she saves his life from a dokkaebi (goblin). He is extremely persistent and friendly and does not leave Miyoung alone, despite her coldness. He unknowingly forms a connection with her on the night that they meet. (again, cliché, but it’s executed in a unique style)

Yena – a strict, cold, deadly gumiho; Miyoung’s mother. She is extremely intimidating when she needs to be, but also very good at seduction, deception, etc. she does whatever it takes to survive, screw anyone who gets in her way, and has no qualms whatsoever about killing. She is seen as the antagonist for a while, but her backstory is much more complicated.

“When you're constantly treated as a pariah and labeled bad, you might begin living up to that expectation.”

The romance. This was endearing to me, just because of how persistent Jihoon was. He would not leave Miyoung alone and it was adorable. I don't mean that in the creepy weird Edward-stalker "you-belong-to-me" type of persistence, I mean that Jihoon was being really nice to Miyoung and trying to be friendly even though she was trying to blow him off. He didn't make romantic advances - he was perfectly friendly and sweet.

Then Miyoung tried to deny her feelings for him and it was even more adorable. I can’t say I shipped them, but I loved them together. How they both tried so hard to take the fall for the other one was just so cute.

I’m not a romance person. I get so easily annoyed by clichés and tropes and the stereotypical romance writing that’s literally EVERYWHERE. But (like always) I have to admit they were cute.

“Thank you."
"For what?"
"For trying to protect me from Hana. And for lying and saying I'm your girlfriend. I know you hate lying."
Jihoon faced her. "Then maybe we should make it the truth."
His words scared her because she realized she wanted to say yes.”

The setting. Wow, that was amazing. I love Asian-setting books because they remind me so much of home – well, part of home (in a sense). However, I’ve never been to Korea and I don’t have that much exposure to Korean culture, but I still got a sense of what Seoul is like and I got a bit of knowledge on Korean mythology.

This book made me miss my “other” home in a way, because the setting was so vivid and prominent that I just loved it.

To finish. I really, really liked this book. I did. I can’t say I loved it, because I didn’t feel that strong a connection with it, but I liked it a lot. I loved the characters, the plot twists, the mythology, and the themes. It did leave me unsatisfied because of the massive cliffhanger which I am completely furious about, but in a good way. I liked it. But not enough to love it.

Besides, I’m a booknerd. I appreciate the torture of a good cliffhanger.
Profile Image for Lucy.
415 reviews610 followers
December 21, 2019

“Night and darkness made a believer of everyone.”

18 year old Miyoung is not your typical girl, she is part Gumiho- a nine-tailed fox who survives by consuming the gi (energy) of men. However, much to her mothers disappointment, she is also half-human, with empathy and soft spots for some humans. With the help of a local shaman who can see spirits, Miyoung only kills those who commit terrible crimes.

Both Miyoung and her Mother hide in plain site, Miyoung attends school in Seoul and tries to keep a low profile. However, one evening she crosses paths with a handsome boy in her class as he's being attacked by a goblin in the woods. She decides to help the boy and reveals herself and her nine-tails- to save Jihoon from certain death. In this encounter, Miyoung loses her fox bead, something which contains her soul, and without it she will die.

Both Miyoung and Jihoon are drawn to each other, and as much as Miyoung wants to ignore him, Jihoon is constantly drawn to Miyoung. As a relationship between the two starts to develop, it may be over too soon as Miyoung's efforts at restoring her fox bead sparks an old feud, forcing Miyoung to face some terrible choices with dire consequences.

Jihoon is a character who appears at first sight to be quite chilled out. He is lazy and a constant gamer with very little interest in academics or life after school. He is cocky in a lot of scenes and flirtatious with women- especially those who are older than him and are in some authoritative position in his life. However, it is clear from the book that he absolutely loves his Grandma and will do anything for her. Meanwhile, Miyoung is struggling to meet up with her mothers expectations and acting as a full Gumiho- Miyoung is prone to feel guilt and shame- something which her mother views as terrible human emotions.

Both characters have experienced severe loneliness and abandonment (however, Miyoung more so). This is a tale of two people finding each other and bringing a bit more hope and love to another's eyes. This also explored what it is like to be human and Miyoung explores this side to her.

This book was a great learning experience to learn some of Korean folklore as well as the differences in our cultures (for example, attitudes towards mental health).

It would have been 4 stars but in the last 1/4 of the book it seemed that the characters were making consistent bad mistakes and a revelation that seemed a bit too cliche for my liking. I am still curious as to what will happen in the next book.
Profile Image for Noura Khalid (theperksofbeingnoura).
505 reviews730 followers
August 18, 2019
"Gumiho," Jihoon whispered.
The girl's head whipped around, her eyes bright as fire.
Jihoon knew he should fear her, but instead he felt a strange fascination.

When I heard about this book I knew I had to read it as soon as possible. It was one of my most anticipated releases of 2019. I love books that delve into mythology, especially when it belongs to a different culture. In Wicked Fox we get to follow the adventures of Miyoung, a Gumiho (nine tailed fox) in modern day Seoul after she saves Jihoon (a human boy) from being attacked be a Goblin. Kat Cho's writing was amazing! I loved every page, and the excitement just seemed to build up the more into the story I got.

The book was like a Kdrama in book form and it just made the overall vibe so much better than it already was. There were also some 1 page chapters explaining the story of the Gumiho which I found really really interesting. I feel like it helped me connect more to the overall story. I also loved that we got to see the characters open up more. Miyoung was closed off for a while throughout the book which was understandable considering that she grew up with a strict and fierce mother. But I enjoyed seeing her connect with Jihoon and for her to finally trust someone. Jihoon was a complete sweetheart and seeing him deal with all that was uncovered just made me love him even more. The characters overall were wonderful, and enjoyed ever minute of this.

I honestly love this book so much! I loved the vibes I got while reading, and I can't wait for the next book to come out and reveal more of the hidden lies and plot twists. Would definitely recommend!
Profile Image for Althea ☾.
623 reviews1,951 followers
December 8, 2020
“Who are you?”
“Gu Yena’s daughter.”
“And what does that make you?”
“And loved.”

The tears flowed 💔

— overall thoughts: 3.25 —
*All of my reviews are as spoiler-free as possible unless stated otherwise*

Gonna start off by saying that this was enjoyable but I can’t get over the fact that the blurb and the tagline spoils about 75% of the plot of the book and I am bitter about it.

But it was generally an enjoyable story. I just think that it would have been stronger and more emotional if it focused on certain aspects a bit more than others. And you know... we weren’t spoiled by the tagline 🤡 (if you don’t know what I’m talking about just don’t read or think about the blurbs too much)

“Love and lies do not mix well.”

This read more like a contemporary kdrama with fantastical elements rather than an urban fantasy kdrama. However, the pacing felt unbalanced because our MCs spent 70% of the book “getting to know each other” and wondering if they cant trust each other rather than solving the issues.

Although I did enjoy the school setting don’t get me wrong. The highschool conflicts were amusing even though it’s not really something I can relate to anymore. I do wish that it was developed more.

The mother-daughter and grandma-grandson relationships were the ones I was most intrigued by though. And I so badly wished that it focused on those. If this book focused more on the mother-daughter relationship than the romance it easily would have been a favorite. There was so much potential there and the plot was set up in a way that if it did, I would have been completely destroyed #iykyk

I appreciated the representation of the korean culture. From the banana milk and the way characters addressed each other, however, the characters felt cookie cutter. Miyoung’s personality felt inconsistent and I wasn’t sold on the dynamics...

I also got really frustrated with the miscommunications towards the end of the book between Miyoung and Jihoon because... IT KEPT HAPPENING. I usually already can’t handle 1 big miscommunication fight but they had like... 3? or 4? maybe more?

In conclusion, this book is: lighthearted, doesn’t take itself too seriously, rich in culture and background, and overall a pleasant time. I would go into this with more contemporary expectations than fantasy though :)

...and perhaps be ready for drama and the up-down plots akin to kdramas. This book had a lot of potential.

PLOT: ★★★★☆
THEMES: ★★★★★
PACING: ★★★☆☆

well I cried 😹😹

give me a few minutes to gather my thoughts
Profile Image for Amy Imogene Reads.
926 reviews793 followers
March 11, 2023
I really enjoyed this character-driven urban fantasy steeped in Korean folklore.

Plot: ★★★★★
Pacing: ★★★ 1/2
Concepts/Lore: ★★★★★

It's been quite a long time since I've read a YA fantasy like Wicked Fox. It's like the mid-2010s fantasy genre where the beings were magical, but they still went to school and experienced everyday modern life. I'm a sucker for that urban fantasy feel, and hope that this is the start of a comeback for that kind of thing (i.e. Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely books, which I ADORE.)

Miyoung lives with her mother in Seoul, Korea. They live alone, they have no friends. Stunningly beautiful, they seem to exist in their own world of perfection. But that's only the top layer—it turns out that they're gumiho, or nine-tailed foxes. These mystical Korean folklore symbols eat the livers of men to stay alive for eternity.

Then there's Jihoon, the teenage boy who lives with his halmeoni, or grandma, in their restaurant. His mother abandoned him when he was young and now lives across town with her "new" family, and he's struggling to achieve contentment with his life while preparing for the next year of high school. His heart isn't open to new people, and he's okay with that.

One night, Miyoung's hunt for her next victim is witnessed by Jihoon. When a rogue demon attacks Miyoung mid-feed, Jihoon comes to her aid. There's a fight, a struggle, and now Miyoung's soul is externalized via a soul bead—which is dangerous for gumiho, because whoever controls the bead controls the gumiho. Fearing Jihoon's presence, Miyoung runs away.

The next day, Miyoung is the new girl at Jihoon's school. Things will never be the same.

Things I loved:
I loved that even though this was a romance-driven plot, the interactions with Miyoung and Jihoon focused on more than their feelings. I also thought the author did a devastatingly good job at writing complex and morally grey mother figures—both Miyoung's mom and Jihoon's are extremely well fleshed out, and it's rare to see negative mother roles in this context. (Ahem, also, the father figure representation was really well done and interesting.) Also, let's talk about the Korean references! This was grounded in Korean culture, particularly soaps, and it was awesome. I didn't know much about Korea at all, but after this introduction I'm excited to learn more. It felt natural, it wasn't info-dumpy, and the author obviously cares a lot for representing Korean slice of life. (With a bit of fantasy angst mixed in, which just adds to the perfection.)

Things I didn't love:
I did think this novel was oddly paced. The first half is very slice of life—each chapter picks up either hours later, same time, or next day—but then once we hit a certain climactic moment, the pacing abruptly shifts to a different structure. Weeks pass by at the chapter break, maybe even months (who knows?), and so it felt like there was a "slow" part (the beginning), and a "fast" part (the end), and that was odd. I still enjoyed it, but it did throw me for a loop initially.

Also, I read most of this novel without realizing it was going to continue with another book. I was so sad, as this concept had room to grow. Thrilled to see we're getting another! Can't wait.

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Profile Image for sarah.
391 reviews262 followers
February 1, 2020
I was initially a bit hesitant going into this book as I had heard some mixed reviews- but I ultimately thought it would be a fun, fast paced, romance heavy fantasy.
It was, but unfortunately for some reason it didn’t completely work for me.

I was sucked in from the first few chapters. I loved the fantastical aspect, as Korean mythology is something I did not know much about prior to reading this. Learning about the different creatures, their stories and powers was super interesting to me. Additionally, we would periodically get a couple of pages of tales about Gumiho through history, which I loved.

“When you’re constantly treated as a pariah, and labeled bad, you might been living up to the expectation”

We learn a bit about Gumiho and Dokkaebi: Goblin like creatures that possess extraordinary powers and abilities used to interact with humans, at times playing tricks on them and at times helping them.
(As a side-note, there is a glossary at the back which was very useful to me in learning more about certain Korean words, phrases or customs.)

I would love to learn about more creatures in the next book and dive deeper into their histories, motivations and powers. I would also find it interesting to learn whether or not there is an aristocratical or political system that controls the mythological beings to stop them from revealing themselves to humans (think, volturi) I just thought that in such a rich world and culture, there was so much potential that wasn’t fully realised.

As for the real life aspects of this, I liked seeing life as a Korean teen in high school. Some things; like mean kids and bullies seem to be universal. It was also interesting to contrast the system I am used to to the Korean one. The writing was well done, especially for a debut novel. I marked a few quotes that I liked, and it overall flowed quite nicely.

I liked the characters, and how they subverted some typical fantasy tropes. Miyoung was the powerful, moody, strong one. Jihoon was still an important character, but he was the one who needed saving by Miyoung, and was of a more emotional and gentle nature than her.

“He’d wanted to see if she’d taste like rain. He suspected it was more likely she’d taste like lightning.”

The relationship dynamics were all very well done. I loved Miyoung’s relationship with her mother. It was complicated and messy- but it was clear that they loved each other.

My main issue with this was the pacing. It started off strong. We have the beginnings of a plot, likeable and relatable characters and we are just starting to get sucked into the world. But… It doesn’t last. About halfway through we reach a plot twist and the climax. For the rest of the book it meanders, wallows around and just seemed like it lost the threads it had set up. It felt much too long for not not much happening.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad book- I enjoyed the first half quite a bit, I just couldn’t stop thinking about how much better it could have been.
Profile Image for Kevin (Irish Reader).
274 reviews3,933 followers
September 12, 2019
I am obsessed! I loved this so much!

Going into this book I already knew I was going to love it. A book about a Gumiho, a nine tailed fox that has to consume the energy of men to survive. I love Kitsune’s so I knew I’d love reading about a Gumiho.

This book was a lot of fun. The characters were amazing and I fell in love with them instantly. I did a reading vlog where I read this book. You can check it out to hear more of my thoughts: https://youtu.be/81zW2nq1_v0
Profile Image for Amy Risner.
191 reviews751 followers
July 5, 2019

ARC provided by Penguin Teen in exchange for an honest review.

When I learned I was going to be on this blog tour, I may or may not have screamed. Wicked Fox was such an anticipated YA release of 2019 for me, and it did not disappoint!

This Korean-lore inspired tale of the gumiho (fox with nine tails) was so much fun to read, and I immediately fell in love with our two main stars: Miyoung and Jihoon.

Miyoung: A high school student who is half-gumiho and half-human. She must feed on the gi (or energy) of men in order to survive. Miyoung has a very strained relationship with her mother, who is a beautiful and ancient gumiho. She does not know her father and struggles with wanting a normal life. However, she isn’t good at making friends and tends to be a loner.

Jihoon: A high school boy who has a few close friends to whom he’s very loyal. He doesn’t have a relationship with his mother so he lives with his grandmother and works in her restaurant. Also, we must protect Jihoon at all costs.

Yena: Miyoung’s gumiho mother. She is incredibly strict and protective of Miyoung, and pretty much won’t show mercy to anyone.

I loved how this book is an urban fantasy that’s set in modern day Seoul. The story opens with Miyoung on her hunt for gi, but she ends up saving Jihoon when she sees a goblin attacking him. But then something strange happens in the process: Miyoung’s fox bead, which contains her gumiho soul, gets extracted from her body. And if the bead falls into the wrong hands, that person can control Miyoung.

What made me love this book so much was that we got to follow the budding friendship (and later romance) of Miyoung and Jihoon. Both teens deal with absent parents and it affects them both in different ways. And I don’t want to make things too personal, but I would die for Jihoon. He is so soft and caring, and his relationship with his grandmother was so similar to my relationship with my (late) Thai grandmother.

One thing that this book addresses well is sexism and misogyny. I appreciated how Cho included some chapters dedicated to the history of the legend of the gumiho. I won’t give away spoilers, but the legend of the “evil” woman who devours men’s souls has some underlying misogyny and it’s interesting how this type of story was told at bed time to scare children. But I really loved how Cho reversed the role of the gumiho; instead of being a seductive liver-eating monster, Miyoung fought temptation to feed, even if it meant potentially losing her immortality. Seriously, I loved seeing Miyoung’s character develop from the first page.

I highly recommend this book if you’re into urban fantasies with a twist on a popular legend. Not only is the romance cute and organic, but the mysteries and mayhem involved had me turning the page late into the night. I cannot wait to read the next installment!

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Profile Image for April (Aprilius Maximus).
1,092 reviews6,579 followers
July 4, 2019
Thank you so much to Penguin Random House for the review copy!

TW: gore, violence, death, death of a loved one, depictions of seizures, absent parents.

This was so much fun. Some of my favourite things about the book:

- the atmospheric, Korean setting
- the fact that the love interest was the PUREST cinnamon roll to ever exist
- the beautiful relationship between Jihoon and his grandmother <3
- the Korean mythology (Gumiho and Goblin galore!)

If you love K-dramas, I would highly recommend picking this up!
Profile Image for Ashley Nuckles.
190 reviews7,256 followers
July 26, 2020
Overall I enjoyed the story, the setting, and the main characters, but I felt like we didn’t get enough introduction into the antagonists so that when the final scene arrived and everyone came together, I couldn’t remember or got confused with who was who at times. I also felt like this could have been a little shorter, but I still liked it!
Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,402 reviews1,850 followers
July 4, 2019
This is a paranormal fantasy, with a heavy focus on Korean mythology, set in present day Seol. And boy did it hook me right away.

"My mother says gumiho are always women because we gain our power from the moon."
"And what is a man?"

Honesty, the first 1/3rd of this book was nonstop delight. It was interesting, refreshing, funny, thrilling.. I loved both our heroine, a half-human half-nine-tailed fox -- who chooses to siphon the life force from evil men to survive (unlike her mother, a full gumiho, who prefers to go straight for the liver) -- and our plucky, clumsy, devil-may-care hero, who has the good (or bad, depending on your point of view) fortune to be rescued by her.

[his grandmother] used to tell Jihoon stories about [goblins] tricking humans and nine-tailed foxes eating the livers of men. Horror stories camouflaged as fables to teach lessons. But those types of stories were supposed to stay in books, not come to life and almost choke him to death.

Both characters have endured the loss of parents and are variations of isolated or alone : Miyoung because she doesn't fit in, and her mother has taught her to not stand out so as to never give herself away, and Jihoon who, despite having two good friends, just tends to keep things light, and on the surface, so he can't be hurt by further loss.

"And your father is a gumiho, too?"
"He was human."
"Was? Is he dead?"
"How should I know? I've never met the guy."
"How dysfunctionally ordinary."

I loved that, without feeling heavy handed about it, these characters also put the more typical fantasy gender stereotypes somewhat on their head. Miyoung is the one with the power, the strength, and she's the one recusing the hero. But she's also the monster.

"When you're constantly treated as a pariah, and labeled bad, you might begin living up to the expectation."

Things get -- extra -- complicated when Miyoung's bead, her soul, is separated from her body, and there are shamans, secrets, and betrayals galore. I especially enjoyed events right around this time, when Miyoung is trying to solve her problem without crossing her stern mother, when she's trying to fend off Jihoon's attempts at friendship, and all the funny little exchanges they have. But this book did kind of falter shortly after most of that early action and things felt pretty dragged out. This is also a pretty long book (over four hundred pages) so a long book was made to feel longer because stuff just.. isn't happening?

"If I die, it's not for you. I'm dying for me."

That said, I found the world effortless to lose myself in. The writing, the mythology, the worldbuilding, the chapters that showcased and told us of past Gumihos, it was all fascinating. The characters, too, I really liked and it was, at times, really funny. And while the middle did drag, I thought the ending captured some of that early magic for me, so I'll definitely read on (not sure if this is a duology or a trilogy at this point).

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


This review can also be found at A Take From Two Cities.
Profile Image for Charmel.
179 reviews407 followers
February 9, 2022
3.5 ✨

The synopsis of the Wicked Fox is quite similar to some typical fantasy kdramas. There's a human, there's a creature in the form of a human. They met, fell in love, then the not-human encountered some problems involving the human. They will alsoooo prolly go through so much before the ending.

The Wicked Fox is exactly like that. Ahn Jihoon is a human, Gu Miyoung is a Gumiho. They met, fell in love, there were problems, and so on and so on.

I honestly thought this was going to be cliché and predictable. Fortunately, I was wrong and I was actually entertained. I liked both the main characters' dynamics, the plot was a bit confusing but still lived up to me, and lastly, the characters made an impression since they have some colors and aren't as plain as cardboards.

“I prefer fictional life. Things in the outside world are too messy.”

This book started strong, it piqued my interest and caught my attention. Miyoung was an interesting character and with her gumiho secrets and all, it made her mysterious. Jihoon was the laughter-is-the-best-medicine type of guy, you can't escape his witty jokes and eyes that sparkle humor. I really looked forward to their interactions and banters.

Everything started to get messy when I reached the 50% and the ~1st plot twist~ of the book. All of a sudden, things were happening. It's like the author tried to pack a lot of stuff at once but in the end, it was too much and jumbly and disorganized.

The mcs also went through some "character changes", which annoyed me. I understood how it added to the plot, though I really think that it was unnecessary and out of character for them.

Then there comes the ending, where it was satisfactory but at the same time insufficient. There are so many unanswered things, that's why I look forward to reading the sequel.

“Sometimes you need to stop thinking so hard about what you get out of life and have fun.”

I had mixed and conflicting feelings about this book. so in general, I loved the first part, didn't like the middle part, but enjoyed the last part.

Probably the main reason why I liked this book was that I am reading about Korean folklore/mythology and I was transported to modern-day Seoul, which set the mood and atmosphere of the book.

Transportive, entertaining, and a well-written debut. 3.5 stars!
Profile Image for Vicky Again.
595 reviews817 followers
May 30, 2020
need for book two: *intensifies*

I feel like a shaking chihuahua waiting for a sequel askksksks

Wicked Fox is not only a charming romance, but a story full of angst, mystery, and mythical creatures. From the vivid setting of modern Seoul to the beautiful brutality of a gumiho’s needs, Wicked Fox promises an exciting adventure with a highly compelling romance.

I read this in two sittings over the course of a day, and was completely charmed not only by the characters, but by the mystery and scintillating romance. Kat Cho makes 420 pages feel like a breeze, which is a huge feat given how many times I’ve dragged myself through 350 pages.

One of the most enjoyable parts of Wicked Fox was definitely the romance—for me, at least.
Not everyone is a fan of romance (and you can still enjoy Wicked Fox if you aren’t!) but I was completely ready to swoon, and swoon I did. From the first chapter from Jihoon’s point of view, I was swooning at his charm. And throughout the story, I grew to love the characters and their dynamic.

What really made me invested in the relationship was how the main characters just spent a lot of time together. Jihoon was gently persistent in his desire to become friends with Miyoung—someone who is generally closed off, because she and her mother move so often—and I love how they established that friendship before anything else happened.

It was sweet to watch the friendship develop and Miyoung warm up to actually becoming friends with people and not just spending time alone.

Plus, the romance continues to up the stakes for the rest of the story and make things a lot more intense.

Readers might not guess it at first, but there’s definitely a bit of a mystery/adventure going on, as the stakes involved with Miyoung losing her bead is very very high. Not only does a bead give the holder the ability to control the gumiho, but being separated from the bead has a lot of ill effects.

Through the story, Miyoung embarks on a personal journey as she struggles to understand what it means to be a gumiho and how her human & fox sides war. To stay alive, she must resort to murder, and Cho doesn’t just treat murder—even of bad people—lightly, like in other novels. She gives it the weight and thought it deserves, which I really appreciated.

Miyoung’s identity struggles play a big part in the novel, and Cho ties together this, the romance, the mystery, and the search on how to reunite Miyoung and her gumiho bead, really well in the end.

And she gives us a delicious epilogue to go off of two, whetting our appetites for book 2!
I especially loved the way Cho mixed in fable-like mini-chapters throughout the book which told stories about gumiho, mythical creatures, and the past. At first I was shaky on this element, but in the end (especially that last one!) I became hooked.

Overall, I think Wicked Fox really ties so many things together, all wrapped neatly in a fantasy romance bow. If I had to critique something, I would want more from the villains, but at 420 pages (which managed to speed right by!), I think Wicked Fox is pretty great already.

I’d definitely recommend to anyone who loves romance, a bit of myth and magic, and a hint of mystery! I’m keeping my eyes peeled for the sequel to come out!
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