I love Eastern Asian mythology, especially the kitsune from Japan and was intrigued to read the Korean version. Gumihos are powerful foxes that have lived for a thousand years and have gained immortality and the ability to transform into a beautiful woman. They are evil creatures who eat human livers or hearts to survive and use a magical bead, known as a yeowoo guseul, to absorb energy. Miyoung is a half-gumiho, half-girl who hunts evil men every full moon and has just moved to the big city, Seoul, with her gumiho mother. During one full moon hunt she runs into Jihoon, a human boy, and rescues him from a goblin, losing her bead in the process. And now she’s broken her mother’s biggest rule; never leave a witness alive.
Despite witnessing her murder a ferocious monster, Jihoon can’t help but feels there’s more to this aloof and dangerous girl than the persona she is showing. From frequent glimpses, Jihoon sees the real Miyoung, not a monster but a teenage girl – yes, maybe she’s complicated but so is everyone. And though Miyoung tries to distance herself from Jihoon, she is happy to have someone to finally be herself around. Yet if Miyoung’s mother, Yenna, discovers Jihoon she will kill him to protect their secret.
Miyoung is strong, determined and still trying to figure out how to come to terms with the evil deeds she must do. Despite her independent and self-reliant nature she still longs for her mother and a friend. The author did a good show of a supernatural being that is still very human. On the other hand, Jihoon is a boy who takes life easy, hanging out with his friends, spending time with his grandma and all while covering the pain and resentment of being abandoned by his mother. Jihoon grows and develops over the events of the book and it’s a decent example of a somewhat lazy boy simply needing motivation to put the work in.
Both Miyoung and Jihoon have difficult family relationships; from Miyoung’s cold, affectionless mother; to Jihoon’s mother leaving him to start a new family. Neither of them has really had someone that truly understands the pain of being abandoned by their parents and instantly connect over it.
The Korean mythology was what intrigued me most about this book. While it was interesting, it wasn’t enough to keep me engaged and I even had to put it aside for a while. Despite the fact that there was some conflict – murderous mother, Miyoung’s need to feed, etc – the conflict wasn’t nearly as engaging as I’d hoped and only really happened in the last few chapters. There was a twist earlier on which made me think things were going to be more action-packed, but it was sadly easily resolved and didn’t come back into the story until much, much later. Instead the middle was practically all focused on the relationship and a little on their family and friends. Overall, it was a real romance book with a supernatural element and I personally hate romance book (I find them very slow and boring).
I found the concept and mythology interesting but found the actual story way too romance heavy and slow. I give it 3/5. While I was disappointed, it did get me more intrigued by Korean mythology and all the similarities and differences it shares with other Asian mythologies.