Hey book readers! I am excited to share with you my review of Kat Cho’s debut novel: Wicked Fox.
Debut novels are the entryway for writers into the book and publishing world. Your first published novel is all your hopes, dreams, fears, sweat, and tears. As an upcoming writer or a newly aspiring writer, you want your first novel to do really well. I don’t mean necessarily in terms of money (though that is part of it), but in terms of how readers receive the novel’s writing and quality.
Well, I can certainly say that Cho’s debut novel is refreshing and well written. There are lots of elements to the story that I believe worked really well for me. Before I get into the details, here is a summary of Wicked Fox:
Gu Miyoung is no ordinary eighteen-year-old girl. She is a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox from the stories of Korean fairytales. In order to live, Gu Miyoung must feed on the gi-energy- of men. In the busy city of Seoul, Gu Miyoung and her mother find the perfect feeding ground.
Then, one fateful night in the woods changes Gu Miyoung’s life. After saving a human boy, Jihoon, Gu Miyoung finds that her life is in his hands-literally- after losing a fox bead that happens to be her soul. Now, with her life out of balance, Gu Miyoung tries to keep her immortality admist her growing feelings for Jihoon. With her life in peril Gu Miyoung must choose between her immortality and Jihoon.
You can’t go wrong with a good modern day Korean fairytale. Ever.
Cho certainly knows how to keep the drama going in this addictive, refreshing, and hauntingly beautiful debut novel.
What drew me in to this particular book was the inclusion of Korean fairy tales and stories in modern day Seoul. I don’t often get to read fantasy novels based on mythologies from other parts of the globe. Greek mythology is a popular theme in fantasy and modern day retellings of mythologies.
So, when I saw that this novel was based on Korean fairy tales, I was intrigued.
The novel starts out right in the action and I was hooked from the start. Gu Miyoung, one of the main characters of the novel, jumps out at you (in a good way) from the page. Cho does such an excellent job presenting Miyoung’s dilemma with her humanity and the immortal side of herself in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the readers. Within the first few pages, Miyoung’s pain and confusion was pretty clear, but it also set up the plot for the entire book.
Cho uses the third person perspective in this debut novel, which is no easy feat for writers. First person is usually preferred by new writers, but Cho has certainly pushed past that and it was totally worth it. I also think switching perspectives between Miyoung and Jihoon paced the story so nicely, and allowed readers to take a breather from all the drama and tension going on. It also built up the tension as much as it released it, so kudos to Cho for being a gifted writer and amazing storyteller.
In between Miyoung’s and Jihoon’s narratives, Cho includes about 1 to 4 pages of excerpts of Korean fairy tales and some backstory about the characters, specifically the fairy tales concerning the origins of the Gumiho. I loved these parts because it was another way Cho slowed down the story, while also giving readers more information and context about Korean culture and mythology in relation to Miyoung’s and Jihoon’s story.
The excerpts were not just informational, but they told tales of the broken hearted, the wicked, the greedy, and sometimes the tragic lives of these fairytale creatures and humanity. Props to Cho for making learning about Korean culture fun.
There was a lot of drama in this story. Given Cho’s love of Korean drama, it is totally clear why the drama in this story was so palpable, and I loved, loved, loved it! I felt like I was in a soap opera, except for the gumiho, goblins, and shaman, but it still worked out in the end. I love a good drama.
The drama and tension between the characters didn’t feel forced or too much. Sometimes writers let things happen to their characters in order to create tension and drama, instead of having their characters do something that leads to tension and drama. Character action, not reaction is key to moving the plot in the story. Cho is a fine example of how to keep the plot moving so that readers stay entertained and enjoy the story.
The epilogue at the end had me thinking, “What the hell?” Not in a bad way. It was in a good way. I am looking forward to reading Cho’s next book in the Wicked Fox series coming out in Summer 2020.
I ate up this book like Gu Miyoung ate up men’s gi.
It was so good and I crave more of Cho’s addictive writing and haunting fairy tale romance. More to come next year. Until then book lovers, keep on reading!
Let me know in the comments below what your favorite part of Wicked Fox was!