Book Review | Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

Genre : YA Fantasy
Date Published : June 15, 2019
Publisher : Putnam Books

In her debut novel, Wicked Fox, Kat Cho centers her story around a classic Korean Folktale, but places it in the contemporary setting of modern-day Seoul. Gu Miyoung is a seemingly normal eighteen year old girl, except for, you know, the fact that she’s really a gumiho – a nine-tailed fox demon that needs feed on the gi – life force – of men in order to survive. If that’s not enough to immediately hook you in, Cho complicates Miyoung’s life even more when she stumbles across a human boy – Ahn Jihoon – during a routine hunting night. In a surprising twist, Miyoung saves the Jihoon from a goblin, but loses her yeowu guseul (her fox bead, aka her soul) in the process, and ends up linking herself to Jihoon when he picks it up and discovers what Miyoung is. And that’s just in the first 30 pages of the novel! Throughout the rest, Cho weaves together an intense and emotional story that follows these two characters as they learn to navigate the new challenges that face them after this fateful meeting. And I had such a great time following them on that journey!

Understandably, being a nine-tailed fox demon brings a lot of angst to Miyoung as a character, but what I really love about her is the compassion and silliness that breaks through her seemingly rough exterior from time to time. We learn that she binge watches Korean dramas, and knows the tropes of them so well that she can predict what will happen in almost every episode of one. She likes the reprieve they bring from her day-to-day life, because, let’s be honest, her life is pretty stressful. She’s had to move from place to place to keep her true identity a secret, and the fact that she has to kill in order to survive keeps her from wanting to form attachments to people. Even her relationship with her own mother is cold and distant for most of the novel. Cho does an amazing job of showing how detached Miyoung needs to be, while also showing how much she craves companionship and connection – all of which she finds in Jihoon.

Cho gives Jihoon his own chapters, alternating them with Miyoung’s, which is a choice that I loved! Getting into Jihoon’s mind was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the novel! Jihoon has a tight-nit friend group made up of Somin and Changwan (two amazing side characters!!!), contrasting Miyoung’s solitary life, and his relationship with his halmeoni (grandmother) was the relationship that got me the most teary-eyed. But even with this seemingly charmed life, Jihoon is not without his own demons (metaphorically speaking). Jihoon is kind and funny and so naturally open and caring with those he values, but he’s also such a typical teenage boy who makes stupid mistakes and holds grudges. I am so so impressed by how well-crafted he and Miyoung are, and their relationship throughout the story was definitely a strongpoint.

“Miyoung didn’t like how Ahn Jihoon talked to her. Like he was her friend. He’d fallen into the casual speech of banmal without her permission. She wondered if he even realized it. But more important, she wasn’t sure why she hadn’t put an end to it.”

Chapter 12, page 113

What I loved most about Miyoung and Jihoon was how Cho flipped the typical trope of “angsty boy and the girl who changed him”. In Wicked Fox, it is Miyoung who is mysterious and detached and complicated, whereas Jihoon is goofy and kind and often takes on the caretaker role. What’s even more impressive is that Cho also managed to steer clear of the manic pixie dream girl trope by making Miyoung a main character and giving her a voice, and making sure readers know that, despite being a gumiho, she is still a person. While Miyoung and Jinhoo’s stories certainly center around each other and their growing relationship, Cho also creates space for each of them to tackle their own problems. We get to see them both struggle with wanting to chase after their own desires, while at the same time wanting to stay respectful towards their families and honor the bonds they already have formed.

The plot of Wicked Fox overall is fantastic! There are unexpected alliances and betrayals, and the perfect amount of plot twists that keep the story exciting without it ever feeling Cho is tricking the reader by hiding facts from them. Cho also does an amazing job of slowly piecing together the pasts of the characters so that, when the time is right, everything clicks into place in a satisfying conclusion. My only complaint is, at times, it felt like issues/conflicts got resolved a little too quickly. Without spoiling anything, Miyoung and Jinhoo experience events and losses that would definitely leave lasting effects, but not enough time is given to working through them. While I really did love the book (so so much!), I think the pacing towards the end was a little rough, and I found myself wishing that Cho had split this book into two so that more time could be spent on some revelations that occur towards the end.

The good news is, there will be a sequel! The second book in this series is slated for summer 2020, and I already can’t wait! Cho sets up a nice cliffhanger at the end, and I know that I will definitely be in line to grab the sequel as soon as it comes out. I recommend this book to anyone who loves fantasy, but who wants something new and exciting from the genre.

My rating:

8 Fox Beads out of 10.


June Bookshelf



  1. Stronger Than A Bronze Dragon by Mary Fan – The title itself was enough to grab my attention, especially since Emory has been on a dragon binge with her books. This one promises not just your every day dragons, but mechanical dragons! Sounds like a cool twist, and I can’t wait to read it!
  2. Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson – This book sounds like it has everything – evil sorcerers, magical books that transform into monsters made of out ink and leather, unlikely alliances, and sabotage! It already has great reviews on Goodreads, and I’m so excited to get it!
  3. Wicked Fox by Kat Cho – Out on June 25th, Cho’s debut novel takes on the Korean myth of the gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour men in order to survive. I mean…do I need to say more? (No, but I will!). The protagonist, Miyoung, is one of these gumihos, hunting in secret in modern day Seoul when she decides to spare the life of a human boy – Jihoon – and loses her fox bead (her gumiho soul) in the process.
  4. The Girl in Red by Christina Henry – This book is right up my alley. It’s a post-apocalyptic twist on the classic fairytale of Little Red Riding Hood. Desperate to get to her grandmother to ensure her safety, Red braves the dangerous forest that is packed full of monsters (wolves and humans).
  5. The Outside by Ada Hoffman – Ada Hoffman has been making strides to include more autistic characters in speculative fiction (check out her Autistic Book Party). The Outside features Yasira Shien, an autistic physicist whose work on a space station backfires when it explodes, throwing her into a confusing set of events that includes cyborg servants of God, her long lost mentor, and traveling beyond reality itself.


  1. This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone – A novella co-written by two of my favorite authors! Out in July in the US, but I managed to snag an eARC on NetGalley! I started reading last week and it is truly breathtaking!
  2. Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells – Bisexual dragon-stealing ladies! Need I say more? (Apparently I really do like dragons now!!)
  3. New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color ed. by Nisi Shawl – A brilliant anthology featuring work by some of my favorite short story writers (Jaymee Goh, Rebecca Roanhorse, and Steven Barnes to name a few!). And, of course, an intro written by THE Levar Burton!
  4. The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi – A reimagined 1880s Paris feat. a gang of unlikely friends (a hotel owner, a engineer, a historian, a dancer, and a fighter). I can’t wait to start reading!
  5. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke – As I embark on my journey to read every Regency fantasy novel out there, I must confront the fact that I only ever read 1/4 of this book and then watched the TV series instead. Time to dive back into this delightful brick of a book!