Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Review: The God and the Gumiho by Sophie Kim

The God and the Gumiho by Sophie Kim
Del Rey
Publication Date: June 4th, 2024
Paperback. 416 pages.

About The God and the Gumiho:

"Kim Hani has retired from a life of devouring souls. She is, simply put, too full. Once known as the infamous Scarlet Fox, she now spends her days working in a coffee shop and annoying a particularly irritating, if unfairly handsome, trickster god as often as she can.

That god is Seokga the Fallen. Exiled from the heavenly kingdom of Okhwang, he now begrudgingly resides in the mortal realm, working toward his redemption and suffering through his interactions with the particularly infuriating, if sneakily charming, gumiho barista at his favorite café.

But when a powerful demon escapes from the underworld and threatens to end all of humanity, Okhwang’s emperor offers Seokga an enticing bargain: Kill this rogue creature, as well as the legendary and elusive Scarlet Fox, and he will be reinstated as a god. Hani, however, has no intention of being caught. Seokga might be a trickster god, but she has a trick of her own that he’ll never see coming: teaming up. As Seokga’s assistant, Hani will undermine and sabotage his investigation right under his overly pointy nose. Sure, she’ll help him kill the demon, but she certainly won’t allow him to uncover her secret identity while they’re at it.

As the bickering partners track their case down a path of mayhem and violence, the god and the gumiho find themselves inescapably drawn to each other. But will the unlikely couple stand together to prevent the apocalypse, or will they let their secrets tear them—and the world—apart?"

The God and the Gumiho surprised me in the best way possible. I was admittedly a little uncertain how much I would enjoy this book, but I ended up really having a fun time with it and I loved the Korean mythology-influenced world.

The God and Gumiho
follows Seokga, a trickster god now exiled to the mortal realm where he works as an investigator; and Hani, a Gumiho who was once known as the infamous Scarlet Fox, but now works at a coffee shop that Seokga happens to frequent. Hani is not exactly in hiding, but she’s also not exactly broadcasting her past life in which she went on a bit of a rampage and devoured the souls of far too many men, leaving full for the many years since in which she has not devoured any more men. Seokga was exiled to the mortal realm and has been grudgingly living out his exile as an investigator while slowly fulfilling the terms of his sentence. The two cross paths when a demon from the underworld escapes and begins killing people, which leads police to a sticky situation that Hani was involved in. In order to prevent her and her friend from being found and Hani’s identity discovered, Hani decides to team up with Seokga as his assistant in order to sabotage his investigation and focus on finding the demon. And because that synopsis ended up being so much longer and more difficult and confusing that I expected: long story short– Seokga and Hani do not like each other, but are paired up to work together. Both are very sarcastic and sharp-witted, and everything you might imagine happens with that premise ensues.

Seokga and Hani's interactions and evolving relationship with one another is a bit cliche'd and definitely felt like a dynamic I've read many times before, but I don't necessarily think every book has to have something totally 'new' in order to be an engaging read. In fact, I think Sophie Kim took a well-loved and sometimes overused trope and really embraced it and made it something exceptionally fun and entertaining by bolstering it with a vibrant world and engaging dialogue that brought everything to life in a captivating way. 

Hani is a seemingly fearless and captivating character that I really enjoyed getting to know. Seokga is also a really interesting character to get to know and who has plenty of layers of his own that we as readers slowly get to learn more about. There wasn’t anything particularly groundbreaking that the author brought to Seokga's 'grumpy' character or the way the characters interacted, but the mixture of Seokga’s own backstory and vulnerabilities that we learn about over time mixed with the banter between Seokga and Hani and the wonderfully sharp, clever wit and dialogue brought everything together in the best way.

I found myself fascinated with Hani's background as the Scarlet Fox, as I think that brought a really interesting dynamic to the story, especially in relation to her own relationship with Seokga, since he himself is a powerful trickster god. Hani, however, is not just some random mortal, but is rather an extremely powerful Gumiho was her own long past that Seokga isn’t aware of, which I felt made the playing field a bit more even. In other stories with this general premise, there's often more of a difference in roles and power, but in this one each one has their own source of power from very different places that makes things a bit more interesting as they each add some unique elements to the dynamic.

One of my favorite parts of this book was simply the incorporation of so much Korean mythology that really made the entire world feel so much more vibrant and exciting. The author doesn't shy away from incorporating plentiful amounts of Korean lore into the story, for both background and current events and although it could at times seem like info-dumping, I actually found all of it captivating and didn't mind it at all. For instance, I loved learning more about Seokga's demotion because it allowed us to learn more about the different layers to the world and the mortal realm, and so much more. Everything made the world so much richer and added so much to the reading experience. 

This book is much bigger than I would have expected it to be, and when I look back on it part of me can't quite remember what exactly took up all those pages, but at the same time I never felt as thought the story dragged or had slow pacing. The entire book was actually a delight to read and I found myself always looking forward to sitting down with it and seeing what the characters would be up to. It's a longer book with a lot of information to take in at times, but Sophie Kim writes in such a way that it never feels like work and is always an enjoyable time.

Overall, I've given The God and the Gumiho four stars! Based on the ending, I desperately need and sequel and will look forward to it!

*I received a copy of  The God and the Gumiho in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating.*

Buy the book: Amazon | Bookshop.org

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