Immediately after finishing a book is too soon to write a review, but I really need to stop waiting weeks to write anything down. Reviews are hard enough to write without the faultiness of memory to contend with. Oh well.
Vicious Spirits is the companion novel to Wicked Fox, but it’s more of a continuation with added perspectives. Instead of alternating between Jihoon and Miyoung’s viewpoints, we hear most often from Somin and Junu. As the characters mourn their losses from the first book and try to move on, Somin starts seeing ghosts and Junu is contacted by reapers who warn that Miyoung’s fox bead — which was never recovered — is causing a rift in the veil between worlds. Sanity is questioned, loyalty is tested, and another race against time begins.
I can’t decide if the change in focus from Miyoung and Jihoon to Somin and Junu was a negative or positive change. I did grow to love Somin and Junu, but I wanted more from Miyoung and Jihoon’s perspective. Since Jihoon was not-himself for a large portion of the novel, I was even more deprived. I also missed a lot of Miyoung’s Gumiho-ness that I fell in love with in Wicked Fox. Thankfully, there was a villain that was able to make up for that lack. The story also offered some redemption for Yena, Miyoung’s mother, that both surprised and pleased me.
The stakes were well established. The trouble started in the first novel by the loss of Miyoung’s fox bead causes a problem with farther reaching consequences. Her life is in danger; the reapers are concerned by the passage of ghosts into the mortal world and warn that killing Miyoung may be the only way to heal the rift. They offer Junu very little time in which to heal the rift himself. Junu was a little too willing early on to sacrifice himself for the sake of his guilt, but I grew to appreciate how much he wanted to be friends with the group. His friendship wasn’t limited to Lee Somin, his love interest, but extended to Jihoon and Miyoung. Strong friendships are a huge selling point for me.
One of the strengths of Wicked Fox was how the characters’ layers were pulled back slowly. Cho continued to do that with Junu and Somin, with the focus switching from mothers to fathers. Somin’s father died of cancer when she was young; her story was very sweet and well done. Junu’s side of the coin was more of a mixed bag. His father tried to kill him when he became a dokkaebi and ended up killing himself and the rest of his family. I don’t object to Junu’s strong reaction to abusive fathers, but the way Changwan and Jihoon’s fathers are written lacks subtlety.
Vicious Spirits has a few flaws, but I was swept along on the journey. It was exciting throughout. The finale was much stronger in this book than in the first; it didn’t have the lull that Wicked Fox did. I truly love these two books and am looking forward to revisiting them in the coming years, as well as following whatever else Kat Cho publishes.
Other Things I’m Loving
The Bane Chronicles — There are now six volumes in the Shadowhunter Chronicles that I haven’t read (Chain of Gold and then most of the companion/short story collections), and yet I continue to collect them. Why? Because Cassandra Clare has me under her thumb, okay? It took me forever to read The Bane Chronicles, but I ended up loving them. I’m not in the habit of reviewing short story collections, so I’ll just leave it at saying that this collection has something for every history lover, as long as they are also a lover of Magnus Bane. The stories set in Jace and Clary’s time had me snort-laughing. An absolute delight.
The Holy Rosary — I’ve been praying it a lot and I’m finding a lot of comfort there.
Buttered Toast with Honey — Seriously, I can’t get enough.
Sleep — Not enough, though. Never enough.
Millie — My newest niece was born on Labor Day! She’s beautiful and I’m going to see her on Tuesday when I go up for my first orthodontist appointment (ugh — and I’d like to complain that there’s not a single in-network orthodontist within 50 miles of my town of 190,000 people 😡 )
With that, I shall sign off. Look out for reviews of Yangze Choo’s The Ghost Bride and Lisa Maxwell’s Unhooked, as soon as I get around to them. Cheers!