Wicked Fox is a complete story, but you’ll still want a sequel


Kat Cho’s debut novel will lure you in without any trouble, but it’s impressive that Wicked Fox could be a complete story without an already-planned sequel.

We’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but gosh, Wicked Fox looks pretty from the outset. From the pink-and-purple palette to the details of Miyoung’s tails and her name in Hangul on her school uniform, you can tell that this is a story about her — but Jihoon, her love interest and main character in his own right, is right there with a playful smile on his face. In fact, he looks more tricky than Miyoung does, but he’s not the gumiho at the heart of this story.

Miyoung is, and she’s caught between what she wants to be — something of a merciful gumiho who only feeds off the energy of bad men, killing them slowly — and what her mother wants her to be. Enter discussions of family, more than a little romance, and mythology, then set it in Seoul, and you have a recipe for a fun read that should have YA enthusiasts hooked.

Perhaps the most important thing is, though, that the book ends on a note that would have left this reviewer content not to come back to Jihoon and Miyoung. Not because I don’t like them, but because they’ve closed this chapter in their lives — no spoilers, but that’s even with the epilogue. Of course, Goodreads notes that there’s a sequel in the works, and that’s more than fine, too. In a world where serialized novels are what feels like the norm, it’s refreshing that this book can be at once the first in a series and yet also settle things so well.

Moreover, neither Jihoon nor Miyoung are static characters. Cho occasionally falls into the telling side of things when it comes to what their flaws are, with characters like Jihoon’s halmeoni saying things straight-out, but it’s a minor issue, all things considered, especially when there are some strikingly good passages, like the opening of the very first chapter as well as the interludes. In short, the issues seem more like a first-novel sort of thing rather than a hallmark-of-Cho’s-style thing, at least for now.

In other good things, the entire cast is quite strong, with distinctive voices, motivations, and clear lives outside of what they do in terms of their roles in the story. That’s not an easy thing to do, so it’s a point in Cho’s favor.

As for the romance, it’s adorable and admirably slow in terms of how long it takes for things to really get going. For all those who like a slow-burn, you’re in luck here, and it’s nice that the attraction isn’t instant. It’s both sweet and intense, never forgetting either side of that equation.

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All in all, this is a very solid debut, and a story that has a lot of crossover appeal. It’s pretty perfect for whiling away a summer’s day and even learning some mythology in the process.