Wicked Fox by Kat Cho (Gumiho, #1)
Family is fraught and friendships are complicated, especially when you're a gumiho. Wicked Fox is a romance with bite; negotiating with the past for the possibility of a future. A bit of mystery just might hurt someone after all.
It feels very high stakes but also languid at the same time. There's a time limit, a ticking clock for them to figure out a solution and work together, but also the time is long enough that a lot happens while they wait for it to run out. The romance is awkward and endearing, Jihoon’s earnestness is a great counterpoint to Miyoung’s standoffishness. There's a lot of negotiation of boundaries, both in healthy and not-so-healthy ways. It felt very earnest and messy, but good. I like that Jihoon has important people in his life, there's a lot of value placed on friends and family in a way that's positive and supportive. It makes for a great contrast with Miyoung, but without making it so stark that one of them has everything and the other has nothing.
I appreciate a good interstitial narration between chapters, and this example was very satisfying. I enjoyed these as an alternative to getting infodumps of the mythology from either of the gumiho. As for the pacing of the book as a whole, I was thinking of this book as kind of languid after a very dramatic opening, and I thought I knew where it was going. I successfully guessed one twist and then was almost immediately surprised by several additional layers that made a bunch of slightly confusing things from earlier click into place all at once. I like the twists and I love the ending. It was a really sweet conclusion as the first book in a series and I'm intrigued by the prospect of where it might go next.
CW for bullying, parental neglect, major character death.