Book Reviews

Review: The Fox Wife by Yangsze Choo

This is only my second Choo book, but I’m more convinced I need to go read The Ghost Bride now. In many ways, this is a subtle book about revenge, ambition, and character. It feels quiet in this slow build up to the end. Keep reading this book review of The Fox Wife for my full thoughts.


Manchuria, 1908.

A young woman is found frozen in the snow. Her death is clouded by rumors of foxes involved, which are believed to lure people by transforming themselves into beautiful women and men. Bao, a detective with a reputation for sniffing out the truth, is hired to uncover the dead woman’s identity. Since childhood, Bao has been intrigued by the fox gods, yet they’ve remained tantalizingly out of reach. Until, perhaps, now.

Meanwhile, a family that owns a famous Chinese medicine shop can cure ailments, but not the curse that afflicts them―their eldest sons die before their twenty-fourth birthdays. Now the only grandson of the family is twenty-three. When a mysterious woman enters their household, their luck seems to change. Or does it? Is their new servant a simple young woman from the north or a fox spirit bent on her own revenge?


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

From the beginning, I was intrigued by this connection of foxes to beguiling women, bewitching presences, and this idea of a joyful moment in consumption. In The Fox Wife we mostly look through the eyes of Bao and Snow. I will say, this book is slow. It has an unhurried lead up to trying to get a good sense of who both these characters are. I will say that The Fox Wife is committed to character development and detail. But because of that, just be prepared for a slower lead up especially if you’re expecting more mystery and revenge.

While I wanted to love Snow, in The Fox Wife I ended up connecting with Bao. I think that’s due to some initial distancing. We see many of Bao’s memories and, in some parts, his accounts of Snow from others. It feels a bit like cat and mouse as Bao’s investigations begin creeping up on Snow. And this dynamic only works in The Fox Wife if we get to know each of them. The entire time I couldn’t stop thinking about what the role of foxes were in humanity, in our society.

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This clear difference in perspective, longevity, and ‘human concerns’. Who is your villain? The Fox Wife is perfect for fans of stories which build. It’s great for those who love character work and the foundation of characters wondering who the villain is, what their motivations are, and how they can move forward. Find The Fox Wife on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, & Blackwells.


What is your favorite slower build novel?

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