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This is a comprehensive recap that contains SPOILERS of Wicked Fox (Gumiho #1)
Gu Miyoung is hunting on the full moon as she is half-gumiho (an immortal nine-tailed fox that is disguised as a beautiful girl) and survives by devouring the gi (energy) of men. Even though her mother, Yena, disapproves of Miyoung’s hunting habits as Miyoung insists on slowly siphoning the gi from her victims in a painless (yet still fatal) way. (Yena encourages Miyoung to hunt the much faster and “efficient” way of ripping a man apart and devouring his liver). Miyoung also chooses to hunt “bad” men who she identifies with the help of a shaman named Nara who communes with wronged spirits. Miyoung tries to follow her rules, which include never getting caught and never revealing her gumiho identity. She’s usually really good about it. But on this night, after her hunt she runs into Ahn Jihoon…
Earlier that day…
Ahn Jihoon is a slacker who doesn’t try hard at anything except gaming, napping, and generally having fun. This frustrates his halmeoni (grandmother) who has raised him since he was four. It also annoys his best friend, Somin, while giving his other friend, Changwan, anxiety in general. But, since he can charm his way out of any situation, he doesn’t mind much. That night, in his neighborhood, his halmeoni’s dog runs into the forest and Jihoon has to go after her. But he eventually runs into a creature known as a dokkaebi (goblin). The dokkaebi is waiting for someone and attacks Jihoon. As he struggles a beautiful girl appears and rescues him. But when the moonlight hits her, he sees that she’s no normal girl, she is a gumiho! She saves him from the dokkaebi but not before a bujeok (talisman) is stuck onto her by the dokkaebi as he dies. It causes her to pass out and lose her yeowu guseul (fox bead). When Jihoon picks it up, the bead seems to absorb some of his gi and, in shock, Miyoung snatches it away and escapes.
That night, they share a dream, wandering through the forest. Miyoung finds this to be a bad omen…The next day, a policeman visits the restaurant that Jihoon’s halmeoni runs to warn about animal attacks in the area. Jihoon worries, that the policeman is talking about the gumiho he saw the other night.
Jihoon tries to forget the encounter in the woods, but that next week at school he has a new classmate: Miyoung! He tries to talk to her, but she seems to want to ignore him. After school Miyoung goes to visit Nara to see if the young shaman can help her reunite with her fox bead. Nara says that it is impossible for her to do, but maybe she knows someone else who can help. Nara brings Miyoung to see a handsome dokkaebi named Junu who sells talismans and other magical charms. They buy a Taoist talisman to use in a risky ceremony at the next full moon.
Meanwhile, Jihoon’s halmeoni asks him to run an errand and deliver homemade kimchi to his estranged mother in the rich area of Seoul. Jihoon is reluctant, but he can’t refuse his halmeoni. He hates seeing his mother as she abandoned him with his halmeoni when he was four so she could go off and marry a well-off businessman and start a new family without Jihoon weighing her down.
As Miyoung waits for the next full moon, she has to deal with a curious Jihoon who peppers her with questions and tries to befriend her. She is put off by his charms as she’s lived her life laying low so as not to attract attention. But when bullies start to try to bother her, Miyoung’s temper flares and she accidentally uses her gumiho super-human strength. Jihoon covers for her, letting her run away while he takes the blame for the property damage she caused. But as Miyoung gets home, her mother confronts her. Yena has found the Taoist talisman and is enraged. She’s told Miyoung not to experiment with that kind of magic. Yena rips up the talisman and forbids Miyoung from using it. When Miyoung tries to bring up the yeowu guseul, Yena dismisses it, saying that the fox bead is a myth. This confuses Miyoung and she is convinced that there is something Yena is not telling her.
That night, Miyoung has snuck out to buy another talisman from Junu and Jihoon sees her outside the neighborhood convenience store. She looks sad so he stops to talk to her. He tries to cheer her up by taking her up the mountain in their neighborhood to see the beautiful view of the city. There they have a heart-to-heart and he eventually takes her back to his halmeoni’s restaurant so that she can have a home cooked meal. Miyoung starts to feel conflicted. Jihoon is the first person to be so kind to her and she’s starting to feel something for him. But every time he gets close, her hunger for gi flares up. It’s worse because she doesn’t have her yeowu guseul inside her. So she rejects him, trying to push him away.
When the next full moon comes, Miyoung and Nara do the ceremony, but it gets messed up and Miyoung is chased by the ghosts of men she’s killed in the past. She’s so disoriented that she almost kills the dad of a classmate in a place where she could be easily caught. Before she kills him, though, she runs away, chased by the ghosts of her past victims.
Worried for Miyoung, who hasn’t come to school all week, Jihoon goes to see her at her house. But he sees that she looks unwell as she brushes him off. Miyoung goes to see Junu and purchases a talisman that helps to ward off the ghosts.
Back at school, Miyoung tries to keep a low profile, but unfortunately the other kids have found out that the reason she left her old school is because she accidentally pushed a girl off a bridge. Though the other girl survived, rumors are that it was attempted murder and Miyoung and her mother fled. Miyoung end up getting bullied, defended only by Jihoon. Eventually Jihoon’s friends, Somin and Changwan, also take Miyoung’s side, making her wonder if it was possible to have friends this whole time. As the next full moon approaches, Miyoung decides to come clean to her mother about the bead and her new friends. But Yena finds out that Miyoung has been working with a shaman this whole time and is furious. She storms out of the house, causing Miyoung to turn to Nara, desperate for a solution to fix her mistakes. Nara agrees to help Miyoung, if Miyoung trusts Nara with her precious fox bead.
Jihoon gets a visit from Detective Hae, the detective in charge of the animal attack cases. He says that he heard that Jihoon was out in the neighborhood during the full moon. He’s been tracking the attack patterns and he thinks that’s when the attacks are happening. Which means another will happen tonight. Jihoon denies knowing anything, but, feeling guilty about sending Detective Hae off alone, gives him one of his grandmother’s collection of talismans as protection. Jihoon goes off to find Miyoung to warn her that the detective is on her trail. But when he sees her, she is distracted and sends him away. Worried for her, he follows her into the woods.
Miyoung meets up with Nara, who has brought her shaman halmeoni along with her. They do a ceremony with Miyoung’s fox bead, but it soon becomes clear that they are here to hurt Miyoung, not help her. It seems like they will succeed when Jihoon appears, snatching Miyoung’s bead from Nara’s halmeoni before she can finish the ceremony. However, Miyoung has been reverted to a wild state because of the pain she experienced and she attacks Jihoon, almost killing him. She’s only stopped when Jihoon reminds her of their memories together. Nara comes to them and reveals that Yena killed Nara’s parents when she was only a baby. That this has all been about revenge on Yena. Just then, Yena appears, having tracked them. She confronts the two shamans and scares them away. But when Yena sees Jihoon has Miyoung’s fox bead, she tries to attack him. Miyoung tries to stop him, but is too injured and weak. She is convinced her mother will kill Jihoon, but he stops Yena’s attack by using one of his halmeoni’s talismans that he brought with him. Miyoung and Jihoon run.
They hide out at Jihoon’s apartment and confess their feelings for each other and kiss. Miyoung warns Jihoon that the reason Yena is so mad that Jihoon touched Miyoung’s yeowu guseul is because anyone who holds a gumiho’s fox bead can control that gumiho. She tells Jihoon he needs to run so Yena cannot find him. But he refuses. Yena does come and attacks Jihoon’s halmeoni to lure him out. She fatally injures Jihoon and leaves Miyoung to mourn him. But Miyoung ends up using her fox bead to heal him. Unfortunately, the bead alone wasn’t enough and Jihoon’s halmeoni begged Miyoung to use halmeoni’s gi to heal Jihoon. She does, but halmeoni falls into a coma.
When Yena finds out that Miyoung put her fox bead inside of Jihoon to heal him, she convinces her daughter to leave. Miyoung, believing that being close to Jihoon will hurt him with her bead inside of him, agrees.
One month later…
Jihoon is distraught. His grandmother is in a coma. Miyoung disappeared. And ever since the attack, he’s had mysterious seizures that have baffled doctors. On top of it all, he can’t stop having really intense dreams about Miyoung.
Miyoung is traveling with her mother and the dokkaebi, Junu. They are trying to find a solution to regain her fox bead without harming Miyoung. But, what annoys Yena is that Miyoung refuses to feed anymore. She’s worried that if she feeds while her bead is inside of Jihoon that it will hurt him. Miyoung has a dream of Jihoon where he tells her that his halmeoni is in a coma. This shocks Miyoung, who thought that halmeoni would have surely passed away after giving up so much gi. Miyoung realizes that she left Jihoon alone with no family and decides to go back to try to save Halmeoni.
While Yena goes off to try to find answers, Miyoung convinced Junu to help her sneak back to Seoul. Once there she doesn’t get a warm welcome from Jihoon, but when she claims she can help his halmeoni, Jihoon reluctantly accepts her offer of help. Their feels soon start to surface again and just when Jihoon wants to try again, Miyoung admits that she is the reason halmeoni is in a coma and that she put her fox bead inside of Jihoon (thus causing his mystery seizures). Jihoon is so mad, but he doesn’t get a chance to be angry for long as Detective Hae arrives and recognizes Miyoung. It turns out Detective Hae is Miyoung’s long-lost father.
Miyoung, shocked by this revelation, gets drunk. And Jihoon finds her and has to take her back to his house to sleep it off. Once there, Jihoon realizes that he is no longer mad at Miyoung. He’s just sad because he felt abandoned by everyone he loved. Nara comes to see them and tells them that she is sorry for her part in Miyoung losing her yeowu guseul. She is afraid her halmeoni is being overcome by a need for revenge. So Nara wants to help Miyoung reunite with her bead once and for all to end this. She says that they can use the next full moon to try to take the bead out of Jihoon and put it back into Miyoung. Jihoon and Miyoung agree as it seems the bead is causing Jihoon to get sick and they worry that it might kill him if they wait too long.
But before the next full moon comes, Jihoon gets the news that his halmeoni has passed away. In despair, Jihoon has a seizure and ends up in the hospital. The doctors say his heart is so weak now that he is dying. Desperate, Miyoung says that they are definitely doing the ceremony to take out the bead. But the night of the full moon Jihoon is kidnapped by Yena, with help from Junu. Miyoung and Detective Hae go after them to save Jihoon. But it is revealed that Detective Hae is working with Nara’s halmeoni to kill Yena and Miyoung. Detective Hae believes that he is responsible for releasing the evil that is Miyoung and Yena onto the world. And therefore, it is his responsibility to stop them. As Nara’s halmeoni does the ceremony to destroy Yena’s fox bead, Nara appears and tries to stop her halmeoni. But it is too late. Yena’s fox bead is turned to dust. When Nara’s halmeoni begins to do the same ceremony on Miyoung’s bead, Miyoung tries to fight back but she is too weak. In the end, it is Yena, in her dying throes that stops the ceremony and kills Detective Hae in the process. Miyoung holds her mother as she lays dying. In a last-ditch effort to save Yena, Miyoung puts her bead inside of Yena, just like she did for Jihoon. But Yena dies anyway, fading from existence, Miyoung’s bead along with her.
Miyoung, convinced she’ll die now without her bead, is in mourning. But when she doesn’t die, she decides that she will learn to live this new life as a non-gumiho and embrace her love for Jihoon.
Yena’s ghost comes to Miyoung in her dreams, warning her that it is not over…
Find out what happens next in the sequel Vicious Spirits, out now wherever books are sold!