If you're a fan of the magical/spiritual girl anime, I think you'll really enjoy this book a lot. The pairing of a soft boy with a dangerous girl is a common plot thread in J- and K-dramas, and I loved the subtle nod to the K-drama, My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho. It also gave me Jigoku Shoujo and Vampire Princess Miyu vibes. Miyoung is the classic tsundere who starts out icy, aloof, and dangerous, but ends up being far more sensitive and vulnerable than she initially appears.
Jihoon was also a great character. He's sweet and ordinary, and his relationship with his grandmother was one of the best parts of the book for me. I like how both of them bond over their absent or neglectful parents, because it felt like a realistic connection to explain their need for intimacy and closeness. The Korean folklore elements were also really interesting and I loved learning about the every day life in South Korea, such as what schools are like there, what people eat, and what the social norms are. This is the first paranormal/urban fantasy novel I can remember reading that is set in South Korea, and I felt like Cho did a marvelous job bringing her settings to life.
I'm giving this three stars because it did feel a little uneven in terms of pacing. The beginning was wonderful but I felt like it began to drag in the second half. I liked the twist at the end, even though I suspected it, and I wasn't prepared for the emotional blow the author inflicted upon me. That didn't impact my rating negatively but I do appreciate when authors don't always take the easy, comfortable choice. I thought the plot of the story was good... I just wish I was more engaged in some parts than I actually was, and I thought the "legend" portions, told from omniscient narrator POV, were a bit too heavy on the exposition and actually ended up dragging me out of the story.
Overall, though, this was a really fun debut and has likable characters, an interesting story, and an exciting setting. I'd definitely read more by this author and I'd encourage anyone who's stick of the usual stock Western urban fantasy settings with the typical line up of vampires, werewolves, and witches to give this book a try-- especially if you're into supernatural girl anime and dramas.
3 out of 5 stars
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