After the events of Wicked Fox, Somin is ready to help her friends pick up the pieces of their broken lives and heal….
We’re thrilled to share an excerpt from Kat Cho’s Vicious Spirits, a beguiling and addictive read full of otherworldly dangers and romance—available now from G.P. Putnam’s Sons.
After the events of Wicked Fox, Somin is ready to help her friends pick up the pieces of their broken lives and heal. But Jihoon is still grieving the loss of his grandmother, and Miyoung is distant as she grieves over her mother’s death and learns to live without her fox bead. The only one who seems ready to move forward is their not-so-favorite dokkaebi, Junu.
Somin and Junu didn’t exactly hit it off when they first met. Somin thought he was an arrogant self-serving, conman. Junu was, at first, amused by her hostility toward him until he found himself inexplicably drawn to her. Somin couldn’t deny the heat of their attraction. But as the two try to figure out what could be between them, they discover their troubles aren’t over after all. The loss of Miyoung’s fox bead has caused a tear between the world of the living and the world of the dead, and ghosts are suddenly flooding the streets of Seoul. The only way to repair the breach is to find the missing fox bead or for Miyoung to pay with her life. With few options remaining, Junu has an idea but it might require the ultimate sacrifice. In usual fashion, Somin may have a thing or two to say about that.
“You always did know how to make an impression.”
Junu winced at the familiar voice. He almost pretended he didn’t hear it, but knew it would be futile.
He’d been trying to avoid this. Ever since that dim-witted dokkaebi had arrived on his doorstep yesterday claiming “Hyuk” sent him. In fact, it had been an anxious energy that had caused him to leave his apartment today, seeking out company.
Turning, Junu took in the sight of the reaper. He was beautiful. Taller than even Junu with a lean build. Full lips with a perfect Cupid’s bow. Thick lashes. Alabaster skin that made him look like he was carved from marble. His beauty felt almost otherworldly. Though, Junu supposed that made sense, as Hyuk didn’t belong in this world. It’s what had originally drawn Junu to him, a being with the face of youth but an old soul. Someone that reminded Junu of his own predicament. Forever frozen at the end of his teen years but with the burden of eternity on his soul. Although Hyuk never seemed truly weighed down by his immortality, it was a balance that Junu used to seek, before he gave up on any kind of inner peace.
Hyuk was dressed head to toe in black with a black wool fedora to match. If he were a mere mortal, Junu would worry the guy would get heat stroke, but he knew that jeoseung saja felt things differently, even when they visited the mortal world.
“What are you doing here?” Junu asked, pasting a neutral expression on his face. Reapers weren’t known for being able to read human expressions; they were almost comically bad at it. But Hyuk had developed the ability to read Junu from their time together.
“I would have thought you’d be expecting me. You did get my referral, didn’t you?”
“Well, you’ve gone through a bit to get my attention,” Junu said. “What do you want?”
Hyuk gave a stilted smile, but Junu knew the awkwardness in the reaper came from being unused to expressing human emotion. “I want nothing from you, old friend. In fact, I am here because I want to help you.”
“How kind of you.” Junu made his voice so smooth you’d slip off it. His patience was wearing thin. And he knew Hyuk would take it for the subtle warning he meant.
“It seems there’s something affecting our worlds.”
“Something other than the normal, horrible ailments?” Junu asked with a lifted brow.
“There is something in the Between. Something that’s connected to the land of the living, creating a tear.”
“The Between?” Junu asked. He’d spent a lot of time with Hyuk, but even so, he had never fully understood the world of the reaper.
“The Between is where souls stay before they’re able to pass on to the afterlife.”
That did not sound good. “So, like a ghost realm? What could be connecting it to the world of the living?”
“That’s what I’m here to find out. It’s already affecting things. Ghosts are appearing in this world. And my abilities are not working the way they should. Earlier today, I was following one of these ghosts that slipped through and a mortal was able to see me when I should have been cloaked.”
“Ghosts have been able to come to the mortal realm before,” Junu pointed out.
“Yes, temporarily, and in places where the boundaries between the world of the living and the world Between are thin. But if a ghost spends significant time in the mortal world, they could have negative effects on the living.”
“So they have a little fun in the mortal realm, haunt a few people they hold grudges against. Why is that so bad?”
“If they stay too long, they could have undue influence on the psyche of the living. They could cause those in the mortal realm to go slowly mad, with fatal consequences,” Hyuk said. “It would upset the balance of life and death.”
Junu didn’t like the ominous sound of Hyuk’s words, but still, he had no idea what this had to do with him. “Why are you coming to me with this?”
“I don’t know much, but I can tell that the source of the tear is currently coming from near here. It’s like a thread of energy connecting the two worlds.”
A thread of energy near here. One that had ties to someone who might have recently entered the ghost realm. Junu’s heart dropped as his mind went to a certain former gumiho who’d recently lost her mother and her fox bead in a horrific incident. But he kept it to himself and just shrugged. “Sorry, I haven’t seen any thread of energy lately.”
“You forget, I know you better than most. I can tell you know something.”
Hyuk had never played along with Junu’s games. Something he’d never really liked about the reaper.
“I suppose I could offer my services. After all, I’ve been living in Seoul for a few years now and it’s my business to find out information.”
“You should of course tell me anything you hear,” Hyuk said. “But in the meantime, you should be careful. There are things in the Between other than ghosts and restless spirits. Supernatural souls that are trapped.”
Junu’s heart skipped a beat. He sucked in a sharp breath. “She’s trapped by multiple forms of magic. There’s no way for her to get free.”
“If there’s a way into a trap, there’s always a way out. No matter how completely you believe you’ve sealed it.”
“She won’t get free,” Junu insisted. “I was promised.”
“I hope so, for your sake. I’d hate to have someone like that free, knowing they’d come after me the way she’ll most definitely come after you.”
“I’ll handle my own problems,” Junu said. “I don’t need your advice.”
“You didn’t use to think that.”
“Well, times change, as you well know.”
Hyuk nodded, accepting Junu’s rejection in stride. Something that was equal parts admirable and frustrating about the reaper. “I hope you take this as I meant it. For old times’ sake.”
“Sure,” Junu said before turning away. “Do you really think—” he started to say, turning back again, but the reaper was gone. He was talking to no one.
Excerpted from Vicious Spirits, copyright © 2020 by Kat Cho.