The Fox Wife

an enchanting historical mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of The Night Tiger and a previous Reese’s Book Club pick

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Pub Date Feb 13 2024 | Archive Date Feb 02 2024

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'Vivid, enigmatic, enchanting' M. L. Rio
'Irresistible' Sunday Times

Some people think foxes go around collecting qi, or life force, but nothing could be further than the truth. We are living creatures, just like you, only usually better looking . . .

Manchuria, 1908: A young woman is found frozen in the snow.

Her death is clouded by rumours of foxes, believed to lure people into peril by transforming 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.

Snow is a creature of many secrets, but most of all, she's a mother seeking vengeance. Hunting a murderer, the trail will take her from northern China to Japan, with Bao following doggedly behind.

And as their paths draw ever closer together, both Snow and Bao will encounter old friends and new foes, even as more deaths occur.

The Fox Wife is a stunning novel about old loves and second chances, the depth of maternal bonds, and ancient folktales that may very well be true.


'Poetic and evocative' Good Housekeeping

'Magical, wondrous, transporting and illuminating' Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

'Rich and beguiling' Daily Mail

'Filled with wonder, mystery and folklore' Sue Lynn Tan

'Enchanting' the i

'A rich tangle of myth, mystery, and history' Alix E. Harrow

'Vivid, enigmatic, enchanting' M. L. Rio
'Irresistible' Sunday Times

Some people think foxes go around collecting qi, or life force, but nothing could be further than the truth. We are living...

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ISBN 9781529429756
PRICE £20.00 (GBP)

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Featured Reviews

This is a story of love, loss, myths, and a detective mystery all in one. If the whole thing feels like you're reading the diary of a woman who has lived an extraordinary life, well you kind of are.

From the first chapter I was hooked. As it went on I had some ups and downs with the writing but never in a way that was bad, just didn't always sit with me. There is a particular scene where Bao hears someone at his door and the writing becomes more like what you'd expect in a suspense novel. It's not bad, but it felt out of place to the tone of the rest of the story.

The weaving of the little details that hint at everyone's relationships together was brilliant. I really loved these little moments. They were done beautifully, fitting the melancholy tone of the book and air of reminiscence that surrounded what happened in the book's present times.

The ending felt completely right but equally I felt like I was looking through fog (maybe that's just the effect of foxes?), we get to see where things will go in the future for Bao and Snow, but I wonder so much about the other characters, like Bohai.

I loved this little dip into this world of foxes that was part historical fiction, part mythology and folklore, part mystery and heavy doses of lamentation.

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"I was very sad without you."

Oh, I loved this. The Fox Wife is a magical story about fox spirits, but also about a mother's love for her child, but also two love stories in one. I gasped when the lines between the two POV characters connected, and I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the reunion.

I loved the dynamic between the three foxes, and all the hints about their past that slowly forms a story, and the way the puzzle was gradually put together. I loved all the myths and magic around them, and the ending was just so soft and gentle, I won't quote it here because everyone should experience those final lines themselves.

My only complaint is that the three foxes didn't end up polyamorous like they absolutely should have (in my mind).

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The Fox Wife is a compelling fusion of folklore and historical fiction that resonated strongly with me, given my appreciation for Chinese and Asian folklore. Set against the backdrop of Manchuria in 1908, the narrative immerses readers in a world where ancient myths take on a tangible and literal presence.

I found the incorporation of the folklore elements into the story to be a particularly noteworthy aspect of this novel. The author adeptly interweaves these cultural myths, resulting in a narrative that blurs the boundaries between reality and folklore while still providing a cracking page-turner.

Having very much enjoyed the author's prior works, The Ghost Bride and The Night Tiger, my expectations were high for this book and fortunately, it did not disappoint. The story unfolds during the end days of the Qing dynasty, around 1910, with much of the action taking place in Manchuria and Japan which I thought was a really interesting time setting for the story.

The story unfolds deliberately, employing dual perspectives. Snow, a fox spirit capable of adopting human form, narrates her part in the first person, while Bao, an elderly investigator skilled at locating missing persons, recounts his role in the third person. Their narratives eventually converge, leading to unexpected revelations, particularly as it becomes evident that Snow is not the sole fox character in the tale, and Bao's life experiences significantly impact the narrative.

I liked the detective story elements of the novel (which is not usually a genre I particularly enjoy!), replete with intriguing plot twists and suspenseful developments that kept me firmly hooked until the story's conclusion.

I felt perhaps there was some room for further exploration of the romantic tension elements of the novel, and as usual I was rooting for the wrong guy, but this minor personal niggle did not diminish my enjoyment of the novel..

In short, another banger from Choo!

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I read an eARC of this book so thank you to the author, the publisher and Net Galley.

This book was such a beautiful blend of folklore and historical fiction. I found it absolutely fascinating.

We follow two narrators, Snow, a fox spirit who can take human form, and Bao who takes on investigations as he has a strange power that allows him to tell when people are lying.

Snow is on a quest for revenge against the person who killed her child. In this heartbreaking mission we see her going on a long and intense journey to find a photographer who was responsible for her grief using the limited means and contacts she has available. All against a backdrop of a fear of foxes and constant danger of being found out. Bao is following in her footsteps.

This book has everything you could possibly want, a compelling mystery, character growth, clear goals the characters are working towards, secrets from the past, folklore, magic, lost love. There was a moment when I realise how something would connect before it was announced and it was a serious wow moment.

I enjoyed this so much, I thought it was beautifully written and a thrilling story.

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It will probably come as no surprise (or at least will be a common enough story) that I picked up this book after having read - and quite enjoyed - “The Ghost Bride”, another well know book by Yangsze Choo. While the latter was an introduction to both the author an the cultural concept the book was about, “The Fox Wife” felt more like a return to a familiar voice and mythology that I have already read some about. Having said all that, this story surpassed all of my expectations and has easily become the best read of the year.

The story is told in two distinct perspectives - 1st person POV of Snow, a fox lady, who has set out on the road of revenge after losing her daughter, and 3rd person POV of Bao, an old man, who works as an investigator while using an indispensable skill - being able to tell apart lies. As these two make their own distinct journeys, we get to see their paths intertwine, past and present, wowing an immersive story that keeps the reader turning page after page.

There was so much to like in this book, it’s hard to pick only a few things. For someone with a short attention span and a busy schedule outside of reading, the short chapters made it easy to follow the story and with the ending of each chapter leaving me wanting for more, it quickly became a book I always had with me (easily done with and e-book) for filling in breaks at work. The characters felt so human (even if not all of them actually were, haha) and it made me root for them the whole way. And the story behind the story - the foxes and their mythology, their appeal, their (un)balanced realities - this is definitely a book worth reading if this topic interests you, even a little.

This year was filled with plenty of okay reads, but “The Fox Wife” was a breath of fresh air, and I cannot recommend it enough.

I received an advance review copy from Netgalley, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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The novel is an enchanting blend of historical fantasy and folklore, brimming with supernatural elements. Unfolding in the early 1900s in Northern China, it centers around the captivating tale of Snow, a young woman who is also a fox seeking vengeance for the tragic murder of her daughter. As she embarks on her quest for justice, Snow finds herself in the role of a maidservant to an elderly lady. Little does she know that this woman's grandson is involved with a revolutionary society, adding another layer of intrigue to the narrative.

Amidst this intricate web of events, we are introduced to Detective Bao, a man who possesses the unique ability to detect falsehoods amidst a sea of lies. Investigating a series of mysterious deaths, his path inevitably intersects with those of Snow and the elderly lady. It is revealed that all of them, the young woman, the revolutionary leader, and even an author, are connected as fox spirits. The elderly lady, in particular, owes her life to a fox spirit who rescued her in childhood, and similarly, Detective Bao was healed by one during his own youth. Their intertwined pasts create a deep bond between them despite the challenges they face in the present.

The story delves into the intricacies of a cursed family and the ethereal essence of fox spirits, seamlessly blending elements of charm, history, and romance. Throughout the narrative, the author skillfully intertwines folklore and historical fiction to create a delightful tapestry of emotions and imagination. The ancient reverence and fear associated with foxes are explored, from their origins as divine celestial beings to their reputation as cunning tricksters capable of assuming human form. While the presence of fox spirits is largely believed by peasants, the impact of their supernatural powers cannot be ignored.

In the northern regions of China, the fox holds significance alongside other creatures like the hedgehog, weasel, rat, and snake, collectively known as the Five Great Households. Within this belief system, foxes are often perceived as luring people to their demise. Consequently, those who pray to the fox gods are sometimes dismissed as charlatans or simple villagers. However, for characters like Snow and Detective Bao, the creatures hold a mystique that extends beyond mere superstition. Bao, burdened by his innate ability to hear truth, is haunted by the enigmatic connection between foxes and his otherworldly powers. Illuminating the role of foxes as both feared deities and spirit-stealers, the novel uncovers a rich tapestry of shadows and dichotomies.

What sets this book apart is its lyrical prose and masterful characterizations. The story is meticulously crafted, resonating with readers on a profound emotional level. As we immerse ourselves in the main character's sorrow and her unwavering determination to avenge her child's death, the narrative takes us on an epic journey filled with intertwining layers. The author's extensive research shines through, evident in the numerous translations of Chinese and Japanese texts, and the exploration of traditional tales of fox folklore.

In conclusion, I wholeheartedly recommend this beautifully written novel to any reader seeking a captivating and emotionally charged experience. With its multidimensional characters and richly imagined world, it is sure to leave a lasting impression and evoke a range of emotions.

Discover the supernatural allure of fox spirits, as they navigate the delicate balance between darkness and light within the intricate tapestry of this extraordinary book.

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