Dokkaebi Vicious spirits by Kat Cho

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This fantasy novel follows on from Wicked Fox and is best understood after reading the first book. This novel engrosses the reader in Korean mythology (focussing on Dokkaebi, Gumiho and JeoSeung Saja) having folktales interspersed between chapters. The reading pleasure is supported by a glossary and cultural notes.

Set in the present day, in Seoul, the novel explores the relationships between the four main characters (Somin, Junu, Miyoung and Jihoon). The story continues on from Wicked Fox with the main characters, Jihoon and Miyoung, grieving the loss of loved ones. In this sequel the characters of Somin and Junu are richly drawn as we discover the complex backstory that has formed Junu’s need to protect Somin, Miyoung and Jihoon.

This novel illustrates the ongoing effects of differing parenting styles as Kat Cho expertly integrates the mythology with the present day. These parental relationships are resolved and satisfy the reader who cannot help but be touched by the characters and their struggles. The threats of the supernatural to life, for individuals and the community, creates suspense throughout the story. The writing also contains violence. While most sits well within the realm of fantasy, one scene is graphically depicted and caution is advised for the inclusion of this book in school libraries.

The nature of love (romantic, maternal, paternal, platonic and unconditional) is linked to kindness and forgiveness. It offers the reader the opportunity to experience the various stages relationships as an opportunity to reflect on the attitudes taken between characters throughout the writing.

Trigger alerts: grief, death, violence.

Themes: Grief, Supernatural, Korean Mythology, Romance, Betrayal.

Linda Guthrie