“‘I’m unwilling! I don’t want to flee like this. I finally decided to get back at them, to show those hunters and everyone else that I’m not just some cultivation resource. I want to prove that I can be just as strong that we also have dreams and feelings. If I go with you, an easy life will probably be waiting for me. But that is not what I want anymore. This is quite funny. If you had appeared a day before, I probably would have gone with you without a doubt.’” (Is that a Wisp?, Chapter Two)
“…any beast, wisps included, that haven’t achieved the human form is not protected in any way. That’s also why you find things like Demon Beasts meat in restaurants, demon cores for sale, and of course, wisps for absorption or for use in alchemy. Simply put, if you don’t look like a human, you are not treated as a human to start with.” (Is that a Wisp?, Chapter Fourteen)
On the world of Makui, cultivators can exponentially increase their power levels by absorbing the powers of wisps, though this process can be dangerous. Krune, one of the few wisps still alive, is trying to escape from the hunters who are pursuing him. Krune is saved by a young girl named Wang Feifei, who befriends the wisp and asks him to marry her someday, though she is scion of a powerful family. Empowered by his interaction with Wang Feifei, Krune learns a cultivation technique that allows him to increase his power and eventually take human form.
Krune continues to cultivate his power and battle different adversaries in a quest to show the potential and power of the dwindling wisps. He is able to defend himself against cultivators who want to harvest his soul, standing up for himself instead of running away. In his human form, Krune is not recognizable as a wisp, allowing him to enter the cities and continue his training. As he grows more powerful, Krune will achieve greatness and once again connect with the wealthy and influential Wang Feifei.
This is an incredibly creative and intriguing novel because it examines cultivation from a point of view that is not often seen in this genre. Krune is hunted and pursued because the absorption of wisps aid in the enhancement of cultivation skills. In any other novel, the story would focus on the brave and strong cultivator doing anything he can, including capturing a wisp, in order to increase his power. The wisp would not be given agency or free-will; it would be a creature solely added to the story for the benefit of the cultivating male protagonist. But Is that a Wisp? creates something a novel from a new perspective, immediately intriguing any reader who is tired of the tropes and patterns of the cultivation genre.
Krune is a great protagonist because he is so different from other leads seen in this genre. Krune is a non-human entity that possesses great intelligence. He does not have the support of family or friends (wisps seem to live solitary lives) and he is originally fighting to stay alive instead of working to achieve some great destiny. He does not need to reclaim his family’s honor or gain fame and fortune through cultivation; he is just trying to survive in a world fraught with danger. Krune is an extremely interesting character because he is both original and fascinating to follow.
My curiosity was piqued when the story introduced Wang Feifei. The young girl was visiting Makui before returning to one of the many planets under the control of her clan. She is wealthy, privileged, and influential, but she is not proud or overbearing. She has a heart of gold and a good sense of humor, asking Krune to marry her after their first meeting. She doesn’t want to marry one of her stuffy and boring suitors; she is intrigued by a wisp that has an expected lifespan of ten years. Wang Feifei leaves an important object with Krune, ensuring that readers will see this delightful young woman later in the story.
I wanted to learn more about the world in which Krune lives. Wang Feifei’s spaceship lands for only a few hours on a world that is not under the control of her family, though her clan rules large swathes of the galaxy. Do the different worlds vary greatly? Do the great clans battle each other for domination, or is there a tenuous peace amongst these magical realms? How did wisps come into existence? Is that a Wisp? does an incredible job at its detailed world-building. I was kept interested in the work because it kept presenting me with questions that I wanted answered.
The only problem with this novel is its lack of a clear villain at the beginning of the work. Krune is hunted by various cultivators, but there is not a particular man, woman, or beast that is clearly defined as a fitting adversary for the wisp. I would have preferred the work to establish a distinct villain/antagonist from the start to keep me from wondering which random character might reappear in a larger role.
Overall, this is an interesting work that balances action and story. Is that a Wisp? creates a story from a different point of view to create a great story. Krune is a great protagonist and Wang Feifei is an intriguing side character. This novel is perfect for fans of fantasy and adventure novels.