Goong, Volume 8 | By Park SoHee | Published by Yen Press – It’s one step forward, two steps back for Shin and Chae-Kyung, as the new openness shakily established between them is blown away by Shin’s resolve to remain Crown Prince–a reaction to the news of his mother’s pregnancy. Both Shin and Chae-Kyung fall back on their own worst habits, with Shin presenting the news as an irrefutable barrier to Chae-Kyung’s future freedom and Chae-Kyung rebelling with all her might. Taking advantage of the situation, Yul throws Chae-Kyung a lifeline, but will it really have the effect she hopes for?
Though Shin’s bullying and Chae-Kyung’s temper continue to be the real barrier to their happiness–both together and as individuals–it is the Queen’s pregnancy that exacerbates everything in this volume, putting Shin on the defensive (on behalf of both his mother and his wife) and making Chae-Kyung further aware of the gravity of her position. Having been asked to assume the Queen’s duties during her pregnancy, Chae-Kyung becomes more mired in tedious palace workings than ever, bringing a new desperation to the promise of divorce, though that promise has now been cruelly retracted.
That Yul finds a way to exploit this comes as no surprise (he is his mother’s son, after all) but it does shed some incredibly unflattering light on how far he is willing to go to get what he wants, even if it ultimately hurts the person he claims to love. “From the start, I had no interest in becoming King,” Yul says to his horrified mother as she struggles for his cooperation. “What I wanted was to take away the most important thing to Shin, because he took away everything important to me.”
Heavy tension and anticipation make this volume’s slow pace maddening to say the least, which is a real testament to author’s skill with consistent characterization. Though it might seem like it would be a huge relief to have these characters shake off their most damaging personality traits and just work things out already, the result would be utter destruction of everything Park SoHee has worked so hard to create. I, for one, am grateful that she has not taken that tempting, deadly road.
The one truly distressing thing about this volume is the re-emergence of Eunuch Kong, who remains this series’ most unfortunate trait. That aside, fans should find plenty to angst over and enjoy in the latest installment of Goong.
Review copy provided by the publisher.