Thanks to PenguinTeen for giving me a free digital copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Can we please take a second to admire this cover? The art is so wonderful and I love the fact that there is Korean writing on the cover!
Title: Vicious Spirits (Gumiho #2)
Author: Kat Cho
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Expected release date: August 18, 2020 (next week!)
Genre: Young adult, urban fantasy, romance
Length: 429 pages (hardcover)
Synopsis: (via Goodreads) “As Vicious Spirits begins, Miyoung and Jihoon are picking up the pieces of their broken lives following the deaths of Miyoung’s mother, Yena, and Jihoon’s grandmother. With the support of their friend Somin, and their frenemy, Junu, they might just have a shot at normalcy. But Miyoung is getting sicker and sicker by the day and her friends don’t know how to save her. With few options remaining, Junu has an idea but it might require the ultimate sacrifice and, let’s be honest, Junu isn’t known for his “generosity.” Meanwhile, the events at the end of Wicked Fox have upended the forces that govern life and death and there are supernatural entities lurking in the background that will stop at nothing to right their world.”
Lingering between a 3.5 and a 4 star rating but for now I’ll settle at a 3.5. I definitely didn’t love this as much as I did Wicked Fox, and I’m not quite sure if it’s because I went into this book without re-reading the sequel, which is something I like to do when a new book in a series comes out of if it’s the last book in the series. I mean, I read my review of the first book and remembered the general premise so I didn’t have any qualms about not re-reading the first book. Anyway…
I expected this book to focus mainly on Somin and Junu, which it did but I felt like going to Miyoung and Jihoon’s perspective really took away from the former two characters’ story. I liked how we got more of Somin and Junu’s backstory, especially how Junu came to be a dokkaebi. I liked the positive friendship between Somin and Jihoon (though I did feel Changwan got thrown into the mix for no reason whatsoever in this sequel. I want to say he wasn’t really needed overall but I don’t remember if he played a vital role in WF) and that Miyoung finally came to accept that she can have friends despite what she’s thought about herself in the past. I struggled with Miyoung’s feelings toward her mother, Yena, especially after the cruel things Yena did in the previous book. I think this also really threw me off from the story as a whole. Yena rubbed me the wrong way in the first book, so I had trouble connected with Miyoung’s feelings for Yena in this book.
In terms of the romance between Somin and Junu, I wasn’t wholly convinced until the last couple of pages. I feel like this makes me sound a bit shallow but the beginning of their romance felt forced. The simplicity and normalcy of the ending, though, made me reconsider my initial feelings about their budding romance as I felt like they were finally able to put the past behind them in order to move forward.
I also felt this book lacked the atmospheric setting of the first book. Maybe that sounds silly but personally I never felt truly immersed, and I simply remember being so compelled and in love with the descriptions and world-building of the first book that Vicious Spirits seemed to fall so flat. However, in terms of the mythology and fantasy aspect of the book, I liked it. Parts of the book reminded me a bit of the K-drama titled “Guardian: The Lonely and Great God” / Goblin / 쓸쓸하고 찬란하신 – 도깨비. It made me wonder if the character of the reaper, Hyuk, would play a more prominent role but he seemed to be in-and-out and I wasn’t given enough information to care about his role in the book as a whole.
Overall, not as a fun and enjoyable sequel as I thought it would be but if you definitely want to know more about Korean folklore/mythology, you don’t want to miss this.
There’s still time to pre-order this book and submit your receipt to receive a face mask. You can pre-order from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Book Depository, or through your local independent bookstore with IndieBound.